A good-looking car with a few quirks that won’t be the end of the world for most buyers.
It’s noted as being an alternative to the more popular selections in the mid-size sedan segment. The 2017 Mazda6 GT presents itself as the most luxurious variant within the 6 family. Though all models share the same DNA, surface materials differ in several ways. In a world where the Ford Fusion (reviewed here), Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord excel within the market, the Mazda6 must show its value to stay competitive. That being said, the slight 2016 refresh of the Mazda put forward a new face on an overlooked underdog, with the hopes of jumping ahead of its competition. The question is, how will the 2017 Mazda6 GT fare against its prosperous competition in 2017?
As far as visuals go, this iteration of the Mazda6 has a few minor detail changes that would go unnoticed if otherwise not mentioned. However, it would be an inaccurate to say that the Mazda6 is not striking at the least. The front fascia proves to emote and aggressive personality with a beefier stance. The grille was reshaped to match those of the larger Mazda crossovers. To stand apart from the crowd, an LED strip is covertly placed within the bottom seams outlining the grille, connecting both headlamp assemblies.
With the GT being the top trim version of the Mazda6, a handful of unique design elements are put in place that are not found on the cheaper variants. For instance, the grille on the GT sports horizontal chrome slats as opposed to the standard grill found on lesser GS and GX trims. Furthermore, chrome accents the LED fog lights. The brake lights on this car are also LEDs, while all turning signals are standard halogen bulbs. All together, the slight refresh on the Mazda6 improves the looks ever so slightly, pushing the car’s competitiveness closer and closer to its rivals.
Beauty is nothing without brains; that can be said with just about anything. The Mazda6 puts out a total of 184 horsepower at 5,700RPM, with 184 lb-ft of torque at 3,250RPM, which is a decent output from the SKYACTIV-G 2.5L inline 4-cylinder. Note that this is the one and only engine made available across all Mazda6 trims. Even at wide-open throttle, the engine seems to struggle a little bit, and no V6 or turbocharged-four is offered. Power delivery is linear and decently smooth, if not particularly exciting. The SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode and paddle shifters is adequate when left to shift itself. Utilising the paddle shifters simply isn’t gratifying as one would assume.
The ride in this car is something along the lines of tolerable. It’s a bit on the firmer side, part of which can be blamed on the large wheels on lower-profile tires, but the sporty suspension is a contributor too. The biggest problem with this car is how susceptible the cabin is to exterior noise, as well as engine sounds. For the forthcoming next-generation car, we’d love to see some added cabin insulation or even active noise cancelling like GM is using, to enhance quietness throughout the cabin.
Both front and rear independent suspension setups keep the passengers relatively comfortable on bumpy roads, all while minimizing the amount of body roll around corners. The steering on the Mazda6 is notably sporty, something very few competitors even bother with. Whether driving in Sport or Standard modes; the car feels nimble, with great response from the wheel and providing connectedness between driver and the road. The GT model is fitted with a set of 19” high lustre gunmetal alloy rims, mounted on 225/45R19 winter tires on our particular tester.
During me week with the Mazda6 I averaged a flat 9.0L/100km. This is not very far off from the manufacturer ratings at 8.9L/100km city, and 6.7L/100km highway. Most of my driving consists of rush hour commuting, so it makes sense that my average was slightly higher than rated, not to mention the winter tires and frigid temperatures. The 62L tank allows for roughly 600km total range on a full tank, depending on how heavy your foot is. The Mazda6 does not require or even recommend 91-octane premium fuel – 87 is all you’ll ever need.
In typical Mazda fashion, the interior ergonomics and design are both very well executed. The special order Pure White Leather contrasts well with the darker materials within the car. The media controls on the center console, specifically the HMI Commander in charge of infotainment, feels very solid and is, quite frankly, satisfying to spin around. The seats offer decent support within the midsize class, though they’re still on the harder side. If you have a broad shoulders, don’t expect much support on that front either, as the back portion of the seats become narrower towards the top.
A key feature on the Mazda6 is the unconventional heads-up display. Whereas most cars optioned with this technology project information directly onto the windscreen, the Mazda has a small display that folds up from your dash. The HUD info is projected onto this screen, and reflected into your field of view. Here you’ll see key information like current speed, speed limits, and blind spot warnings. Another interesting aspect of this display is the stop sign detection technology. That’s right, when approaching an intersection with a stop sign, a small digital stop sign will appear on this HUD. As cool as it may be, I find it slightly ineffective; chances are if you didn’t see the big, bright red sign outside in front of you, chances are you won’t notice a miniature one either.
Mazda offers the GT at a base price of $32,895. At this price, buyers an intelligent key system with push button start, Bluetooth, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, LED fog lights, rain sensing wipers, 19” alloy wheels, a Bose audio system with 11 speakers, and much more. It’s interesting to note that this car also comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, though buyers can opt for the optional automatic transmission at no extra cost. Our tester came optioned with two additional packages; the Technology Package ($2,800) and the Premium Package ($1,500). Once we include the cost of the optional extras, we’re looking at an as tested price of $36,795.
At the end of the day, the 2017 Mazda6 GT is a good-looking car with a few quirks that won’t be the end of the world for most buyers. However, it’s up against some pretty stiff competition like the Honda Accord (reviewed here) and the Toyota Camry, among other cars. Its lack of a more powerful engine option may be the Mazda’s sole limiting factor, but it’s easily the driver’s car of the pack. With all the development in the last couple years, it’s not difficult to see how Mazda now poses a serious threat to most rivals.