A forgotten car gets rejuvenated Who would have thought that the most boring car class would come out with such polarizing designs?
The 2002 Mazda6 was the first car made by what I like to refer to as “the new Mazda”. While Mazda made some iconic cars in the 90s, with the last RX-7 being my personal favourite, they had a significant dry spell where they made cars like the bleak 626 and Protégé. In 2002, they introduced the classy yet sporty Mazda6, and for 2004, came out with the Mazda3. With the Mazda6’s second generation for 2009, I feel as though they lost their ways. The car was boring, average, and essentially a modern 626. The all-new 2014 Mazda6 GT that I drove for a week definitely confirmed that Mazda is back in action.
I personally adored the first-generation Mazda3. It was peppy, fun, and very competent for its class. The one segment that it didn’t excel in was fuel economy. Oh, and my 2005 manual GT self-destructed on the side of the highway. I’ve driven quite a few second-generation 3 models, and they’re all a serious downgrade. The new 6 GT is something absolutely brilliant though. Mazda has implemented the SkyActiv technology, so the 2.5L 4-cylinder now puts out a modest 185-horsepower, but gave me a combined 8L/100km on regular fuel. Luckily, where many other midsize sedans seem to lack soul, the Mazda6 still has a ton. It’s actually fun to toss around even despite its size.
I know I’m going on and on about Mazdas of the past, but bear with me here. When I heard that the new GT only comes with a 4-pot, I was a bit disappointed. Fifteen minutes behind the wheel and I was swayed. The car has more than an adequate amount of power, and the powerband is just great. There’s zero complaints from my part about the lack of power, and that’s something I tend to drone on and on about. There’s no reason to put a V6 into this car. The 6-speed manual is butter-smooth and dare I say, is Honda-levels of good. The shifter is just right, if not a tiny bit rubbery, and makes every drive comfortable. I believe that with shifter/clutch combinations like these, nobody really needs an automatic.
My personal favourite part of the 2014 Mazda6 GT was the styling. It’s just so… right. Who would have thought that the most boring car class would come out with such polarizing designs? The Kia Optima, the Ford Fusion, and even the new Honda Accord; they’re all so elegant and classy! Packaged right in the correct colours with the right wheel choices, these cars can out-style far more expensive vehicles. My GT tester was painted a gorgeous Soul Red Mica, and I received more than a few comments as to how great looking my car was. Oh, and in BMW fashion, Mazda wants an extra $300 for the special colour.
Sitting at the top of the Mazda6 lineup, the GT comes pretty well loaded. A Bose stereo with 11 speakers is standard, as are bi-xenon HID headlights, heated leather seats, a navigation system (using the TomTom software), and a sunroof. Unlike some other manufacturers, Mazda has not steered away from what their enthusiast buyers want and continues to offer the manual transmission on every single trim level. I recall shopping for a Sonata for a friend a few years ago, and you could only get a manual on the bare-bones non-turbo model.
I actually really like Mazda’s new multimedia system. I had previously used it in the CX-5 I drove last year, and I came out impressed. My particular Mazda6 however, decided to be prejudicial against my 160GB iPod Classic. In a week’s test, I wasn’t able to get my iPod working through the car system using the USB connector at all. I was saddened, but Mazda Canada confirmed by testing iPods in other Mazda6 models that it was my particular car that was glitchy. Perhaps being one of the first cars off the line, the car had a couple of niggles that needed to be worked out.
One other thing; why does every manufacturer now need to copy the likes of Audi and have LED daytime running lights? It used to be something unique that luxury cars had, and now with most mainstream manufacturers doing it as well, it seems overdone. Some cars pull it off beautifully (Honda Accord, BMW’s “Angel Eyes”), but the ones on this Mazda6 look awkward and come across as an afterthought. It’s a shame, really, because the bi-xenon projector headlights on the car are absolutely fantastic.
As the former owner of more than one Camry (family hand-me-downs; no enthusiast in his right mind would voluntarily purchase himself a Camry), my favourite car in the class up until now was the Kia Optima. This Mazda6 has one-upped it like Super Mario on a mushroom. It’s the perfect midsize car for essentially everyone. It’s not embarrassing for a bachelor to be seen in; you wouldn’t necessarily need to upsize after the ‘next steps of life’, and it’s even presentable enough for meetings. The bottom line is, the Mazda6 GT is boatloads of fun, and I have no doubts in my mind that it’ll be a class leader for years to come. With a diesel on the way, it’s inevitably going to sell like hotcakes too.
2014 Mazda6 GT Gallery