A true class-leader is available with a stick
Even though our highways are no longer blessed with the presence of their rotary-powered monsters as much as they used to be, it isn’t hard to notice that the company still has a huge following.
These last few years have been great for the average midsize sedan consumer. The modest yet demanding shoppers have been given a variety of brand new midsize sedans which are not only a treat to look at, they are no longer the beige-boxes of yesteryear. I’ve never denied the fact that the midsize sedans are a guilty pleasure of mine – the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and even the Ford Fusion are amongst my current favourites. Mazda gave me the 2014 Mazda6 GT with the 6-speed manual gearbox for the week, and I came away really surprised.
Complete with the Grand Touring package and painted in a stunning Snowflake White Pearl, my car looked great. The black leather interior looked upscale and definitely looked nothing like the outgoing Mazda6. The design of this car is easily one of its selling points; brought out by an aggressive front fascia, adaptive xenon headlamps, 19” alloys, and LED taillights.
One of the things I truly love about the Mazda6 is its interior – the simple layout is quite easy to navigate through and find whatever you’re looking for without diverting your attention from the road. The rotary controls for the climate control are the perfect mix between the modern and classic eras. The buttons for the heated seats are in plain sight, thankfully, since the autumn breeze has shown its true colours this week. The driver’s seat is 6-way power adjustable, and the surfaces are covered in leather with a great texture. One of my colleagues used to own a first-generation Mazda3 with the plasticky leather interior, so this is definitely a notable upgrade. The seats in my tester were surprisingly comfortable and supportive around the corners.
My GT features a navigation system developed by TomTom, which looks a bit dated. It also doesn’t really give you the feeling of a premium system with its similarities to the $150 units able at Future Shop. With this in mind, the system works very well alongside the Bluetooth integration and the 11-speaker sound system. The Bose system in the Mazda6 features a surround sound decoder which reproduces each and every audio note in a precise and enjoyable manner. Being the top-trim model, things like a sunroof, Bluetooth streaming audio, and fog lights are also on board.
Powered by Mazda’s SkyActiv-G 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, the 6 GT puts out 184-horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the 6-speed manual transmission, the engine feels graceful and comfortable. I must mention that this is one of the best shifters I have ever experienced in a sedan of this size. With every slip of the clutch and toss of the shifter, the shifts are so perfect and the throws are perfectly short. The clutch is extremely simple to get used to as well. It actually saddens me that Mazda opted out of offering the V6 engine as they did with previous models. While their competitors are offering either a turbocharged 4-cylinder or a V6, Mazda has decided to soldier on with their focus on maximum efficiency. A diesel engine is definitely on its way, but we will have to wait a few months for it to actually land on these shores. 50 more horsepower or foot-pounds of torque would make this car truly shine at the top of its class.
It took me a while to accept the lack of a bigger motor in the Mazda6, but after I did, I liked it a lot more. I put my ‘need for speed’ aside, and by the end of the week the Mazda6 GT taught me that power and torque numbers aren’t everything. It really does take a special and strikingly interesting technique to master driving a car balanced so perfectly between comfort and efficiency. Despite its size and weight, the 6 is just so effortless to drive. Tossing it around the corners is just as satisfying as it is in, say, the Acura ILX Dynamic. If you put the 185-horsepower number aside for a minute, the car is actually very good.
Speaking of Mazda’s emphasis on efficiency with the new Mazda6, my daily commute for a week allowed the SkyActiv technology to shine. No matter how quickly or slowly I drove, whether it was in the city or the highway, my fuel consumption was in the 7L/100km range. Combined with the fact that the Mazda6 takes regular fuel (and if anyone says otherwise, they’re lying), it is one of the most wonderful and satisfying cars to own. Fuel consumption was right in line with the four-cylinder Honda Accord and Nissan Altima models we’ve tested, but I found the Mazda significantly more satisfying to drive.
Mazda has always been well-known for the spirit and soul in their cars. Even though our highways are no longer blessed with the presence of their rotary-powered monsters as much as they used to be, it isn’t hard to notice that the company still has a huge following. With the dashing looks and the $32,000 price tag on the absolute top-level car, it’s not difficult to see why.
2014 Mazda6 GT Manual Gallery