It is, in a word, gorgeous. Unlike so many compact and midsize designs that seem on the verge of breaking into a caricature, the Mazda6 midsize sedan is an integrated collection of smoothness, with one organic shape seamlessly melding into another. It’s as if one smooth line is interrupted only by the need to house a drivetrain and seat four or five passengers and their luggage. And yet it defies modern convention with its apparent convention. In short, this is a design that, in and of itself, could suggest a 1,000 (or so) words.
There’s more – obviously – to prospective ownership than just the sheetmetal, and in a somewhat delayed recognition of that I’ve enlisted the assist of an actual Mazda6 owner, Pat Dillon. Pat’s ‘eye on design’ influenced his professional course, his cycling pastime (some would dub it an obsession, but that might imply a cycling militia) and his automotive choices. Here, then, is Mr. Dillon:
My 2009 Mazda 6 was not my first Mazda. I had previously owned a Protégé, a 626 and simultaneously, a pair of 5-door Mazda3s. When I purchased my 2009 Mazda 6 Grand Touring I looked at the Nissan Maxima (which I owned and loved), also the Acura TL – while they were still attractive. The decision to buy the Mazda was relatively easy; to my eyes it’s the best looking and the best drive for my taste. In the 8+ years I owned the 2009 I never grew tired of the look, the handling and the sound of the smooth and powerful 3.7L V6. What didn’t I like? Like most Mazdas, there was a little too much road and wind noise for an otherwise excellent sport/semi-luxury sedan.
With 60,000 on the clock I was still loving the ‘09 when an uninsured motorist decided it was time for something new. There was no decision for me to make – I wanted another 6 GT, and purchased a previously-leased 2014. This one, now an all-Japanese car, offered every option I had in my 2009 and then some. I always thought headlights that follow the steering input were pretty silly, but in my 60s I have grown to really appreciate that feature. Sadly, the V6 is gone and in its place a 4 cylinder. The four is efficient, but noisy under load and with absolutely no soul. With that, it’s a small price to pay for 30+ mpg in our rural driving area.
Today’s Mazda6 (Pat’s ’14 is almost identical to our press vehicle – ed.) remains a great-handling sedan with a little too much road and wind noise. There were a few gremlins in the electronics but a software upgrade and new Bluetooth module are said to resolve those issues. And I like the TomTom Navigation much better than the DVD-based system in my 2009. And just like the 2009 GT, ditching the OEM tires in favor of a good set of ultra-high performance all-season tires dramatically changed the car’s personality and eliminated most of the road noise.
Although not without its nits, it is a car I would buy again without hesitation. An incredibly attractive sedan which I love to drive. Noise? That’s what the audio system is for.
And that’s Pat’s take on a Mazda6 approaching its third year – almost like a long-term review without having to beg Mazda execs for a long-term loaner! Our take on the new Mazda6 is almost identical to Pat’s: We love the looks, the handling and the comfort level, while wishing there was more under the hood. Both Honda and Toyota continue to offer a V6, while Hyundai and Kia supply – at an optional cost – turbocharged fours. We think Mazda should supply its showrooms with the latter, grabbing the turbocharged drivetrain from the CX-9, along with its all-wheel drive system.
Our test Grand Touring came in at $35K. If turbocharging added $2500 and all-wheel drive added another $2500, Mazda could market this Japanese equivalent of Audi’s A6 for some $20K less than a comparably-equipped Audi. It’d be a comfortable, composed, all-season traveler, with looks to die for and performance to drive for.
Mazda is reportedly intending to differentiate itself in the U.S. market with near-luxury features and content. Adding a turbocharger and all-wheel drive to this platform would check most – if not all – of those boxes. And – not incidentally – bring back the second ‘zoom’ to ‘zoom-zoom’.