By: Candy Chung
My first car was a Mazda3 hatchback in orange. It was an awesome little hatchback. More than a decade later, Mazda has changed their slogan from ‘zoom zoom’ to ‘upgrade to a Mazda’. I had the opportunity to review the Mazda6 for a week. Is Mazda ready to move upmarket? Let’s find out!
Mazda6 competes with iconic names such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. My tester is actually the new Signature trim which is targeting the premium market. The Signature can be on the shopping lists of consumers looking at Acura, BMW, Audi and Volvo etc.
Why does Mazda think the Signature can move upmarket? Well, let’s start with its engine; it is a 2.5L turbo producing 227 or 250 hp (depending on choice of fuel) and 310 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters. It has quite a bit of torque for a front wheel drive sedan. The interior is really where the Signature shines. Equipped with Nappa leather, ultrasuede, Sen wood on the doors, aluminum accents and gloss black panels, the interior speaks premium. Fit and finish are very good. Everywhere I touch is either leather-wrapped or soft. Bose audio system elevates the experience. The exterior is also a strong point of the Mazda6. Wrapped in Soul Red Crystal paint and 19” wheels, my tester is simply beautiful with European flares.
Driving dynamics are better than the competition. It’s not quite as dynamic as say BMW 3 series, but it is dynamic enough for a mid-sized sedan. Most of the time I forget that I’m driving a larger vehicle. The ride feels solid, fairly planted and body roll is well-controlled. There is a bit of a turbo lag and is less obvious in Sport mode. The steering wheel is a nice thing to grip and is fairly precise.
The only complaint I have is that it struggles to put the power down. I have to be gentle with the gas pedal, if not the wheels would want to spin a little. The OEM tires are Falken SUV tires, so I would assume putting Ultra High Performance or Grand Touring tires would help with putting the power down.
The trunk of the Mazda6 doesn’t disappoint. It easily consumes the three pieces of suitcases I always use for the test. There’s plenty of room left for bags and other items. Other than the smaller-than-average center console, the Mazda6 has sufficient storage space throughout the car. If you are a passenger in the back of the Mazda6 Signature, you’re in for a treat. The center armrest can be folded down to reveal the two cup holders, USB ports and controls for the heated seats. There’s plenty of legroom in the back and the person sitting in the middle is fairly comfortable for a short ride.
Mazda6 is one of the best mid-sized sedans on the market, period. From the base model to the top trim, it offers a good variety of options at different price points. The Signature model starts from $39,150 and is definitely positioned to compete with the premium / luxury mid-sized sedans. While I don’t think the Mazda6 Signature can steal too many customers from the German makes, it can certainly compete with Acura TLX. However, the TLX can be optioned with AWD (all-wheel drive) and so is the all-new Nissan Altima. Does moving upmarket require AWD? We shall see how the Mazda6 Signature achieves in sales.
Don’t forget to check out the Mazda6 gallery.