We play with a new technology |
Mazda’s recently-redesigned and beautifully styled 6 offers respectable performance and great fuel economy.
In recent times, Mazda has undergone a complete overhaul of their entire line up of cars and crossovers. Their offerings, while always providing good bang for your buck, now look sexier, sleeker, and dare I say, far more desirable than what they offered previously. The reason for this, at least in part, has to do with the adoption of their new “Kodo” (Soul of Motion) design philosophy that emphasizes graceful energetic lines. While the last generation Mazda6 wasn’t by any means ugly, its replacement with the new “Kodo-style” Mazda6 provided insight as to what the new face of Mazda would look like.
My tester for the week was the fully loaded 2014 Mazda6 GT i-ELOOP model with the Tech Package (which adds Mazda’s i-ELOOP regenerative braking technology amongst other things too). Sitting on your driveway, with its swoopy roofline, curvy wheel arches, and 19-inch wheels, the 2014 Mazda6 GT is a stunning piece of design to look at. My tester came painted in Mazda’s Soul Red Mica paint (a $300 add-on), which really accentuated the striking and dramatic styling of the car, especially on cloudy days.
Apart from the 19-inch wheels, the fully loaded GT trim offers a few more creature comforts over the mid-tier GS model, including: auto dimming heated mirrors, bi-xenon adaptive headlights, and a Bose 11-speaker audio system. Springing for the $2,800 Technology Package gives you Satellite radio, radar cruise control, lane departure warning, and Mazda’s i-ELOOP. Perhaps this brake energy regeneration system is the coolest piece of technology in the car. The system works by reducing the stress on the engine when pressing on the gas pedal. Inside the car is a capacitor that discharges and powers all the auxiliary systems in the car (A/C, radio, etc,) when the gas pedal is pressed ultimately allowing for better fuel economy. Unlike other vehicles equipped with regenerative braking systems, the Mazda6’s i-ELOOP tech was very unobtrusive with very little noticeable pull in the car when letting off the gas.
As with all new Mazda’s, the fit and finish of the car has exceeded my expectations. The cabin is shroud in soft-touch materials with very few pieces of hard plastic to be found. Mazda also included a few very beautiful design touches too. For example, the dual-zone climate control features a piece of smoked plastic over the temperature and mode readings so when the climate control is turned off, it blends in with its surroundings in the center console. One thing that I didn’t quite like about the car is the 5.8 inch touch screen navigation system powered by TomTom. The system was slow to boot up, and much more confusing to use with the BMW iDrive-esque dial. Sometimes getting to a part of the menu required a push of the joystick, other times a simple scroll would suffice, the overall experience just wasn’t very consistent. Couple that with an overabundance of nav and Audio buttons (a set on the screen, and a set by the control dial) and the entire experience just felt rushed and unfinished. It’s not all bad news though as it is only a matter of time before Mazda updates the system in the 6 with the new one found in the 2014 Mazda3.
The 6’s drivetrain is the same as that found in the top of the line Mazda3 GT. A 2.5L SkyActiv inline-4 mated to your choice of either a 6-speed auto or 6-speed manual. My tester came with the 6-speed auto which, like the Mazda3, comes with a “Sport” button and paddle shifters. While the 184-horsepower engine was ample on the smaller and lighter 3, the same engine on the 6 felt like it needed a bit more juice to really hit the sweet spot between performance and fuel economy. In daily driving situations, the Mazda6 felt like it just needed a bit more of a push to get off the line.
As such, my fuel economy took a hit and at 8.6L/100km, was a bit higher than what I managed in the Mazda3 GT. One thing I did notice driving the 6 was the noise it made. For one reason or another, the 6 offered a throatier exhaust note than the 3 despite having pretty much the same drivetrain. My colleagues attributed it to a difference in cabin noise isolation. That being said however, I’m not complaining about the noise as the 2.5L actually sounds pretty good past 3200 RPM, where the car really comes alive. The 19-inch wheels surprisingly don’t interfere with the ride quality, as the car was still quite smooth even on bumpier roads.
Mazda’s recently-redesigned and beautifully styled 6 offers respectable performance, great fuel economy, and plenty of room for passengers. As mentioned, I did come away a bit underwhelmed by the infotainment system. With the recent release of the Mazda3 and its new infotainment system, we know what Mazda is capable of. In the meantime though, the 2014 Mazda 6 is still a great piece of kit for those looking for a stylish mid-size family sedan, and remains at the top of its class in my eyes.
2014 Mazda6 GT i-ELOOP Gallery