Review: Mazda6

By Winding Road Staff

August 29, 2012

This is the Master Landing Page for the Mazda6. From now on, as we further review this car, we will be updating this page with whatever fresh content we create. Future drive reviews, updated specifications, videos, and other relevant information will all be found right here, in one convenient spot.
2014 Mazda6 Sedan
Mazda has unveiled the 2014 Mazda6 ahead of its debut at the 2013 Moscow Auto Show. The new mid-size sedan’s design is heavily influenced by the Takeri Concept that we saw at the 2012 New York Auto Show. This is a good thing.
It’s a striking piece of work, following the Kodo design language of the CX-5 CUV. Its taut sheetmetal gives it a sporting appearance which is particularly noticeable in the front wheel arches and rear haunches. Mazda’s five-point grille is present and accounted for, and looks more natural than on CX-5. The interior is less inspiring, but is no less attractive. A central display and three-pod gauge cluster dominate the dash, with a subtle color insert, running the width of the dash, adding some visual flair.
The only engine specs available at present are for the Russian-market 6 (details for the US/Canada are still being finalized). They include Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter gas engine. Mated to either a six-speed manual or a Skyactive six-speed autobox, it produces 134 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. Like previous 6s, power is channeled to the front wheels. A 2.5-liter Skyactiv four-pot is also available, generating a matching 189 horsepower and pound-feet of torque. Sadly, the 2.5 is only available with the slushbox transmission.
Mazda’s regenerative brake system, called i-ELOOP (arguably the most entertaining technology to pronounce in the entire automotive universe), makes its production debut on the 6. With a claimed a 10-percent improvement in real-world fuel economy, it should be a boon to fuel sippers, so long as the Japanese brand can work out the on-off nature of regenerative brakes. Additionally, the 6 is getting i-stop, Mazda’s start/stop system. With a claimed restart time of only .35 seconds, it looks to be one of the best start/stop setups on the road.
The 2014 Mazda6 should make its North American debut at the 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show at the end of November, with sales to begin in early 2013.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Mazda.
Mazda to Showcase Redesigned Sedan With All-New Technology and Safety Features
Aug 28, 2012
MOSCOW, Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- From design concept to final production, the all-new 2014 Mazda6 has been a feast for the eyes. Spawning from its TAKERI Concept beginnings, which made its global debut at the Tokyo Motor Show last November, the redesigned Mazda6 was adapted for more practical wheels-to-road use yet did not sacrifice style or its appeal of being a game-changer in the mid-size vehicle segment. The second Mazda to feature the full suite of SKYACTIV®[1] technologies, the Mazda6 will launch in Europe this year with an added slew of all-new safety features and fuel efficiency-improving technologies. The vehicle is expected to go on sale in the U.S. and Canada in early 2013.
Similar to TAKERI, the Mazda6 features a bold new front fascia with a five-point "signature wing." Part of the KODO "Soul of Motion" design language, this new family look evokes a tempered aggression, controlled yet taut beneath the three dominant character strokes that flow alongside the sculpted body. The Mazda6 sits on a 111-inch long wheelbase, allowing for a roomier interior and ample storage space. Compared to the previous generation, the front wheels have been pushed forward nearly four inches in relation to the A-pillar, resulting in reduced overhang while the rear deck has been shortened, further enhancing the vehicle's lower, leaner and longer stance.
Under the hood of the Russian-specification Mazda6 is a SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine that offers 134 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 155 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The SKYACTIV-G 2.0 can be paired with either the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission or SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission. A SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine also will be available in the Russian market and boasts 189 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 189 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. The SKYACTIV-G 2.5 will be available with the SKYACTIV-Drive transmission. Final specifications for other global markets, including the U.S. and Canada, will be disclosed at a later date.
To feed the rest of one's senses, the interior offers a driver-oriented cockpit with knobs and controls within intuitive reach. The luxurious interior overwhelms in its clean simplicity and quality materials. Cavernous but comfortable, the 2014 Mazda6 features a new instrument panel in two new metallic finishes – Bordeaux and Dark – as well as soft fabrics on frequently touched surfaces such as the door trim and along the instrument panel. The instrument cluster is presented with white scale markings on a dark spindle groove-and-honeycomb pattern to accentuate clarity and readability. An encircling metal ring provides a distinctive finishing touch.
Wrapped in an all-new "Soul Red" metallic paint finish, itself developed through a unique technological process that balances depth and shading while providing vividness, the Mazda6 rests upon 19-inch, five-double-spoke alloy wheels, which offer added stability to the dynamics of the vehicle's SKYACTIV-Body and SKYACTIV-Chassis. The SKYACTIV-Body structure utilizes more ultra-high tensile steel resulting in fewer materials used (and a lighter weight) while increasing torsional rigidity by almost 30 percent. The SKYACTIV-Chassis has a finely tuned front strut and rear multi-link suspension system, which deliver agile driving performance in the low- to mid-speed ranges and precise handling in high-speed driving. Engineering efforts also improved NVH performance to target class-leading quietness as well as optimizing the under-floor design to further improve aerodynamic airflow to a class-leading 0.26 coefficient of drag (Cd), which also contributes to increased fuel economy.
Additional environmentally-conscious, fuel-efficient systems in the Mazda6 include the production debut of "i-ELOOP," the Mazda-engineered, world's-first capacitor-based regenerative braking system. In real-world driving conditions, which feature frequent acceleration and braking, i-ELOOP will improve fuel economy by up to 10 percent. The "i-stop" idling stop system also is available and offers a class-leading engine restart time of 0.35 seconds. The accelerated restart equates to a smoother, barely noticeable pick-up as well as significant improvement in stop-and-go fuel economy. Also, an award-winning single-nanotechnology in the catalyst improves the exhaust gas after-treatment process and reduces the amount of precious metal required.
For the Russian-specification 2014 Mazda6, all-new safety features coupled with the brand's current array of advanced technologies offer an added sense of security and stability. Providing hawk-eyed vision in the moonlight, signature LED headlights paired with halo ring light guides are adopted for the first time in a Mazda production vehicle. With the available Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), the headlights beam and embrace curves on the road just as the vehicle does for added visibility.
Other featured safety systems include:
High-Beam Control (HBC): Uses a sensor to detect oncoming vehicles and automatically adjusts between high and low beam to avoid blinding other drivers at night.
Hill Launch Assist (HLA): Helps prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards while the driver's foot moves from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal when taking off on a hill.
Emergency Stop Signal (ESS): Causes the hazard lights to rapidly flicker on and off in the event of panic braking at speeds of 31 MPH or higher in order to warn vehicles behind.
Rear Vehicle Monitoring (RVM): Goes into effect at speeds of 19 MPH or higher and detects vehicles approaching from behind or driving in the blind spot area on either side, and alert the driver should s/he turn on the indicator signal to change lanes.
Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS): Uses a camera to judge the position of lines on the road and alerts the driver of unintentional lane departures, thus minimizing the risk of collision due to driver inattention or fatigue.
Smart City Brake Support (SCBS): Uses a near-infrared beam sensor to help prevent collisions and, in cases where prevention is not possible, reduce the impact of frontal collisions at low speed (up to 19 MPH) by automatically applying the vehicle's brakes.
More information on the 2014 Mazda6 will be announced during a press conference on Wednesday, August 29. All specifications and technologies disclosed will be specific to the Russian market.
Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. For more information on Mazda vehicles, including photography and b-roll, please visit the online Mazda media center at
2014 Mazda6 Wagon
The handsome Mazda6 will be getting a long-roof wagon when it goes on sale later in 2013. We like the design plenty. The new rear end looks natural and fits the overall design theme.
What’s more interesting is what's currently sitting under the hood. Rather than the standard gas engine, Mazda's new 2.2-liter Skyactiv diesel provides power. We don't have much info, except that the new diesel will be available in two power levels. There's no word on transmissions, but considering manual and auto options are available on the gas-powered cars, it's fair to assume the diesel will get the same gearboxes. Good looks, diesel torque, a manual transmission, and (probably) excellent fuel economy? All wrapped up in an ultra-useful wagon body? Sounds good to us.
If an oil-burner doesn’t appeal to you (what’s wrong with you?), the 6 Wagon will also feature the 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter Skyactiv gas engines. The five-door 6 will feature the same i-ELOOOP regenerative braking system, and the assorted Skyactiv fuel-saving features that we covered when the 6 sedan debuted last week.
The full-reveal of the 2014 Mazda6 Wagon will take place later this month, at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, at which point we hope to have complete information on availability and power.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Mazda.
World Premiere of All-New Mazda6 Wagon at 2012 Paris Motor Show
- Mazda to exhibit SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine model that complies with Euro6 emissions regulation –
HIROSHIMA, Japan—Mazda Motor Corporation will hold the world premiere of the all-new Mazda6 wagon (known as Atenza in Japan) at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. The new Mazda6 Sedan, currently making its debut at Moscow Motor Show, will be exhibited alongside the wagon. Both models displayed at the Paris Motor Show will feature Mazda's new SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine. Sales of the 2013 Mazda6 will begin in Europe later this year. The 2012 Paris Motor Show begins September 27 and runs through to October 14.
The SKYACTIV-D 2.2 diesel engine is available in either Standard Power or High Power versions. Both engine types comply with Europe's Euro 6 emissions standards. Additionally, the new Mazda6 will also be available with the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 and SKYACTIV-G 2.5 direct injection gasoline engines.
The new Mazda6 is the flagship model for a new generation of Mazda products. It incorporates the very best of Mazda's craftsmanship and technical expertise across all domains, from dynamic performance and design, through to environmental performance and safety. It is the second of Mazda's new generation of products which incorporate both the full range of SKYACTIV technologies and the new KODO - Soul of Motion design theme. It also features a range of advanced safety technologies and Mazda's unique brake energy regeneration system, i-ELOOP.
The official name of the motor show is Paris Mondial de l'Automobile 2012. Press days are September 27 and 28, and the show will be opened to the public from September 29 to October 14. Mazda will hold its press conference from 12:45 - 13:00 am on September 27, 2012 (local time).
2014 Mazda6
Engine: Inline-4, 2.5 liters, 16v
Output: 184 hp/185 lb-ft
0-60 MPH: 7.4 sec (est)
Weight: 3232 lb
Fuel Economy, City/Hwy: 26/38 mpg
Base Price: $29,495
On Sale: Now
2014 Mazda6 GT Sedan
There’s a divergence going on in the mid-size market. On the one hand, we have Ford, offering up a tech-laden Fusion that can be optioned out past $38,000, and offers all-wheel drive and advanced, turbocharged engines. On the other hand, we have Toyota. Its most expensive Camry barely cracks $31,000, uses front-wheel drive and an old-school, large-displacement V-6.
This marketplace differentiation is becoming more and more noticeable as new mid-size sedans have arrived on the market. Over the past few years, we’ve seen new entries from Toyota, Honda, Ford, Nissan, Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Kia. Mazda, meanwhile, sat on the sidelines, biding its time.
Now, for model year 2014 we’re seeing the all-new, third-generation Mazda6. It seems to skirt the line between expensive, techy cars and thrifty, traditional offerings.
Mechanically, Mazda did very little skimping on this new 6. It was designed with the Japanese brand’s Skyactiv philosophy in mind, which for those who need a remedial course in automotive marketing jargon, is the overarching philosophy that dictates how new Mazdas are designed and built. Skyactiv influences everything from the body structure, to the transmissions, to what’s under the hood. In the case of the 6, that’d be a new, 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
The aluminum engine uses an even higher-pressure direct-injection system (up to 2900 psi, compared to 1600 psi on the last DISI engine) and race-derived pieces like a large, 4-2-1 exhaust manifold allowing the 2.5 to develop its power more efficiently. Speaking of that exhaust manifold, it’s an exclusive Skyactiv item, and required the engineers to specially design the chassis to insure it had enough space.
That, in turn, results in the Skyactiv 2.5 offering up more torque than the 2.5-liter on the last-gen 6, while maintaining a similar torque curve to the 2.0-liter Skyactiv found in the Mazda3. Peak torque sits at 185 pound-feet, and is fully accessible at 3250 rpm. The 2.5-liter develops all 184 horsepower at 5700 rpm. Those aren’t stratospheric figures, but they’re more than adequate for a mid-size sedan.
And in fact, during our drive, there were only a few instances where we would’ve wanted more power (usually on extreme grades). If you live in a place that’s mostly flat, you’ll be very happy with this engine. The new four-cylinder is a sweet, sweet companion. It revs freely, developing abundant and accessible low-end power, all while eliciting a rather pleasant exhaust note. It avoids sounding buzzy or irritating, instead offering a smooth, distinctive character. That’s a rare trait for the engine of a mid-size family sedan.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Skyactiv-D turbodiesel. Mazda has been tight-lipped on the diesel, ahead of its launch in the middle of this year, but we’ve been told it’ll act as a suitable replacement for the second-generation’s V-6. The question is, will the public actually opt for a diesel over a gas V-6? We’ll find out.
As good as the Skyactiv engine is, it’d be nothing without a pair of excellent transmissions. Available on the 6 Sport and Touring models is a six-speed manual that wouldn’t feel out of place on an MX-5 Miata.
We spent the first half of our day on a basic Sport model (one of only two manual-equipped testers available) just so we could check out the gearbox in action. The clutch is difficult to get used to, with a rather low, abrupt catchpoint. It took us a few reps to really get a feel for it, but it wasn’t so bad that we’d consider it a hindrance.
Once up to speed, though, this transmission is a delight. The throws are short, and swinging between gears comes with a crisp, addictive action. There’s not a lot of weight in the shifter itself, which encourages frequent gear changes. The mechanical feel that comes at each gate enhances that quality further. We really can’t overstate just how much of a pleasure this transmission is.
As absurd as it sounds, though, the automatic gearbox is better. Wait, wait, wait. Put down your pitchforks, douse those torches, and hear us out. Where the manual transmission is simply a very good do-it-yourself gearbox, the six-speed auto is a legitimate accomplishment.
In choosing what sort of automatic would be fitted in the 6, Mazda’s engineers considered the three most prevalent transmission technologies: dual-clutch units, traditional torque converters, or CVTs. All three were found wanting. So what did the engineers do? Well, they just created an all-new transmission.
The system is one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that things. Much like BMW’s original biturbocharged engines used a small turbo at low speeds before switching to a bigger turbo at high speeds, Mazda built a gearbox that functions very differently depending on engine speeds. At low speeds, it’s a torque-converted auto. Get moving a bit faster, though, and it behaves like a dual-clutch transmission. The result is quite possibly the best, most responsive automatic transmission we’ve tested in quite some time.
This marriage of DCT and torque converter delivers a level of responsiveness that has no business being in a mid-size family sedan. It’s quick to get up and go off the line, while upshifts are rapid. More importantly, though, is the speed with which downshifts occur. According to the handy chart Mazda provided, dropping from fifth gear to second at 50 miles per hour takes under 0.15 seconds. On the road, dipping past the switch on the gas pedal drops a number of cogs very quickly. There’s no hesitation, just motion.
In manual mode, shifts are just as fast and responsive. There are paddle shifters on the wheel for a reason, and Mazda has engineered the car so that drivers will enjoy using them. The 6 will happily drop multiple gears with a few flicks of the wrist. As crazy as it sounds, an automatic transmission is really the triumph of this car.
Despite its sporty intentions, the 6 is still an economical car to run. It’ll net 25 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highways. The automatic transmission actually improves on those numbers, netting 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Those are hugely impressive numbers for a gas-powered, non-hybrid, naturally aspirated sedan.
While we had plenty of opportunities on our test route to work the 6’s new powertrain, we certainly spent more time putting the suspension and steering through its paces. We’ll get the bad out of the way first—the 6 uses electric steering. This is where we sigh and shrug our shoulders. Okay, so it’s not terrible, but there’s still not a huge amount of feedback through the wheel, and the steering is quick to the point of feeling slightly artificial.
Mazda claims the steering ratio of 15.5:1 is close to the MX-5’s 15.0:1. That’s great, until your realize that the 6 is, in fact, a family sedan and not a two-seat, rear-drive roadster. Having such a fast rack on the MX-5 is great because, by its very nature, the Miata is supposed to be a fast, darty, agile little car. On the 6, though, the steering tends to feel rather weightless and uninspiring. Moreover, the MX-5’s fast steering works because there’s a lot of feedback transmitted through the wheel. That’s not the case with the 6, which delivers much more of its feedback through the suspension.
Speaking of that suspension, it was decidedly more impressive than the steering. It felt good through the bends, with a flat, confidence inspiring handling character. Lateral grip levels were easy to gauge through the seat of the pants, while the overall balance between front and rear was also quite easy to interpret. Much like the CX-5, there’s an innate tossability to the 6 that makes it a lot more fun to push through the turns than one might originally guess. We got the impression that Mazda wanted us to think the 6 was some sort of four-door MX-5. It’s not. But it comes closer to that sort of fun-to-drive character than the vast majority of cars at this price point.
Changes for the third-generation 6 were not limited to mechanicals. Mazda has essentially taken the design from the Takeri Concept and tweaked it to work on a road car. This is a good thing.
It’s a very handsome car, and is a quite a departure from the trout mouth that’s been so well received on the Ford Fusion. Overall, we’re quite pleased with the exterior. It’ll look especially good at night, where the LED accents actually give the illusion of carrying the chrome of the grille surround into the headlights.
The cabin is a bit more of a mixed bag. It’s all quite logically laid out, and is easy to make sense of. From a driver’s standpoint, it’s really a great package, as well. The seats are comfortable and deliver plenty of support. Both the cloth and the leatherette options feel quite good as the miles pile on. The steering wheel is nicely sized, although the leather didn’t really inspire us to drive harder. We’d hesitate to call it cheap, but it certainly wasn’t what we’d call premium.
Our main issues with the cabin are the finish on the dash and the lack of different trims and colors. The dash itself feels quite rubbery and flagrantly artificial. It just feels odd, almost like someone melted a hockey puck and then molded it into the shape of the dash. It really is the worst part of a cabin that is otherwise largely on par with the competition.
The 6’s interior is available in either black or beige. Regardless of which is chosen, the dash is black with a dark chrome plastic that feels very much like actual metal. It’s just not hugely exciting, and does a poor job of conveying the excitable, fun-to-drive nature of this Mazda. While the car is very “Zoom-Zoom,” the cabin just isn’t.
The Mazda6 is available in three different trims. Sport is the base and volume model, and is available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Really, that’s the only choice to be made on the Sport trim. The manual-trans model starts at $20,880, while the automatic can be had for $22,495.
The next level up is the Touring, which is also available with either the manual or the automatic transmission. It also tacks on dual-zone climate control, nineteen-inch wheels, a power driver’s seat, leatherette upholstery, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Bluetooth, HD Radio, and a 5.8-inch touchscreen display. The manual-trans Touring starts at $23,445, while the auto starts at $24,495. A $2000 Touring Technology pack is available, which adds an 11-speaker Bose stereo, navigation, advanced keyless entry, Smart City Brake Support, rain-sensing wipers, and heated side mirrors.
Finally, the Grand Touring is only available with the automatic. It starts at $29,495, and adds a sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, wheel-mounted paddle shifters, everything from the Touring Tech package, and power seats for both driver and passenger. For an extra $900, the GT can add adaptive cruise control and forward obstruction warning. Tacking on a further $2080 adds the Advanced pack, which includes adaptive cruise, forward obstruction warning, Mazda’s i-ELOOP regenerative brake system (which wasn’t available to test), lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.
Were we plunking down our own coin, we’d be driving away with a Mazda6 Touring, with a manual transmission and the Touring Technology pack for the tidy price of just $25,445. Quite a steal we’d say.
The 2014 Mazda6 is exactly what we expect from a Mazda sedan: it’s fun without sacrificing comfort. It’s affordable, but still feels techy and advanced. It’s stylish without being in-your-face. We aren’t sure how it’ll fare in a world dominated by Camrys, Accords, and Fusions, but if Mazda can get customers behind the wheel, we think it’ll be a pretty easy sell.
2014 Mazda6 Sedan (Stock)
2014 Mazda6 Wagon (Stock)
2014 Mazda6 Sedan GT (On Location)