The Mazda6 is a serious looker in the midsize sedan class.
Mazda, being one of the sportier mainstream manufacturers in the market today, has placed an emphasis on driver engagement through their entire lineup. We have enjoyed the latest generation Mazda3, CX-5, as well as our perennial favourite, the Mazda MX-5 (reviewed here). This week we’re sampling the 2020 Mazda6 Signature, a top of the line offering in the midsize sedan segment, to evaluate whether it shares the same appeal as its smaller siblings.
The 2020 Mazda6 starts at $27,350 for the GS model with a base 2.5-litre inline four engine that pumps out 186-horsepower. Step up to the GT ($36,650), or our tested Signature ($39,150) models and you receive a potent 2.5-litre turbocharged SKYACTIV-G engine that produces 250-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque at 5,000 RPM. The turbocharged powerplant delivers plenty of low-end torque for city driving, and carries a level of refinement to it that is on par with some entry level luxury cars. It runs out of breath at the higher end of the rev range, but most will not be upset with the power delivery.
Mazda believes in a concept called “Jinba-Ittai”, meaning that when their vehicles can work as a team with drivers, full potential is unlocked. While the concept might sound abstract, the Mazda6 was able to deliver a cohesive driving experience. Its steering is engaging, and with the help of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC), it remains one of the better handling midsize sedans today. Understeer is evident if you push it to the limit, but in most urban scenarios, the Mazda6 is composed and enjoyable.
The Mazda6 Signature’s fuel economy rating is 10.0L/100km in the city and 7.5L/100km on the highway, putting it on par with the Honda Accord’s 2.0-litre turbo engine and the Toyota Camry’s creamy V6. Our observed fuel economy came in at 9.0L/100km, with a mix of highway and city driving in winter conditions. The turbo-four presents an interesting dilemma at the fuel pump; you get the full 250-horsepower with 93 octane fuel, but that number drops to 227 if you feed the 62-litre tank with regular gasoline.
Donning a Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint job, which has quickly become Mazda’s signature colour, the Mazda6 is a serious looker in the midsize sedan class. Even though the current third-generation model is now entering its sixth model year, it still looks fresh with fluid styling and balanced proportions. The LED head and taillights keep it looking fresh, but we do miss the unique front grille illumination that previously distinguished the top trim Signature.
The interior of the Mazda6 Signature is a class above most of the competition. The white Nappa leather seating surfaces and Ultrasuede trim all look elegant and upscale, however we have concerns about keeping it clean over many years of use. Mazda’s simplistic interior design is pleasing to look at, and usability is not as impacted as we expected thanks to physical climate control buttons including switches for the heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats.
Our only complaint with the interior lies in the infotainment. The layout of the infotainment system is overly simplistic, leading to convolutions within its menus as many simple commands such as radio presets and accessing Apple CarPlay or Android Auto would require toggling through submenus. We also would prefer to have the volume knob on a more prominent location up on the dash, rather than having to reach for it below the shifter.
Once you have set up the audio and your destination though, the rest of the journey with the Mazda6 is lovely. The seating position is excellent, with good interior space for front occupants. Taller rear passengers might find the sloping roof impeding a bit of headroom, but it is far from being uncomfortable. Mazda’s head-up display unit is vivid even in daylight, and we really enjoyed the nifty feature that displays a red stop sign ahead on the windshield. The upgraded eleven-speaker Bose stereo is great in enhancing the overall experience inside and I prefer this system over the upgraded ones in the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.
The Mazda6 Signature comes fully equipped with a full suite of proactive safety and driver assist features, including Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Radar Cruise Control with stop-and-go function, Lane Departure Warning, Lane-keep Assist, 360-degree view monitor, front and rear parking sensors, and adaptive front-lighting systems. The Signature model is unchanged from 2019, but the 2020 Mazda6 GT now gets the 360-degree view monitor and front and rear parking sensors that were previously exclusive to the Signature trim.
Despite getting long in the tooth, the 2020 Mazda6 Signature continues to be a competent player in the midsize sedan segment. It competes in a heated segment that includes the Honda Accord (reviewed here) and the Toyota Camry (reviewed here). Even though it does not come close to the competition when it comes to sales volume, the Mazda6 is closely matched in terms of driving dynamics and comes with a better-appointed interior. The Camry wins on ride comfort and interior space, and the Accord strikes a fine balance between the 6 and the Camry. Bonus points go to the Mazda6 Signature for its elegant styling, for sure.