Six Degrees of SkyActivation
Good looks count for a lot, no question (I mean, how else could you explain my incredible success? Beauty, that’s how) and Mazda is arguably turning out some of the best looking mass-market machines available.
You know what, it’s all in the grille. A few years back the company lost that odd ‘smiley face’ motif they had been using and adopted the pentagonal shape we seeing here, and it really did wonders for the appearance of all their vehicles; whether this, the MX-5 or one of my favorite compacts, the Mazda3
I’ve been a brand-fan for years, since long before ‘SKYACTIV’ became a weirdly spelled household name. The company has always offered a tight selection of practical and reliable automobilia across the board, from now-departed marques like the Protégé, the MPV minivan and their small pickups (previously a shared platform with Ford’s Ranger series, also now defunct) to today’s lineup.
I like sedans, too, even in the face of the encroaching popularity of small crossovers and utility vehicles; and so this one – the 2018 Mazda6 – while not necessarily the model I would choose from the company’s stable, is right up my alley.
A midsize, FWD daily commuter roughly comparable in dimension to, say, Kia’s Optima or the Toyota Camry, the 6 is this manufacturer’s Everyman car.
Updated for 2018 with styling tweaks and packaging changes, and in the case of the model featured here (the Signature trim) a newly-available 2.5L turbo engine; it’s a package that rivals much more expensive cars from snootier ‘premium’ brands with little tradeoff.
For those of us thinking ‘hey, it really doesn’t look all that different than the last Mazda6’, the company would draw our attention to a new front grille that has been sculpted to create the appearance of greater depth, new headlamps and a redesigned trunk lid.
Inside the car, Mazda boasts and all-new seat design, made more comfortable and in the case of the top-end Signature model, surfaced in Nappa leather.
Wood accents and something called UltraSuede give the cabin a premium look and feel.
The seats are comfortable indeed, and apparently the 6 is the first Mazda to get ventilated seats (in the first row only).
Naturally, I figure the best place to be in any car is behind the wheel, and the driver experience in the 6 is very good.
They’ve redone the instrument display, and the heads-up display in our Signature test model projects all the pertinent information right there on the windshield in a readily acquired at a glance placement.
Everything is within easy reach and the controls are pretty intuitive, there’s not a big learning curve with this car. It’s quiet inside and out, with a stable and smooth ride and frankly the car is fun-to-drive, as the children say.
I’m not saying it’s a blast to drive mind you (let’s reserve that kind of hyperbole for the MX-5), but the Mazda6 handles well and shows off decent handling and responsiveness.
That 2.5L turbo engine kicks out 227 horses and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, and brings the power without hesitation. Connected to a six-speed automatic transmission (with Sport mode and wheel-mounted paddle shifters) this Signature trim 6 outdoes a number of competitors.
And while fuel economy from this gasoline-only model (its not a hybrid, in other words) isn’t going to approach some the hybrids and plugin hybrids out there; the test car didn’t do poorly at all in my time in it. It’s rated at 7.5L/100km on the highway (and 10.0 in the city), and I managed to come in a little under that.
Overall, I like the car, its well-equipped at this trim level and the 6 lineup has a good track record for owner satisfaction and reliability; the only nitpicks I have are that the rear seats don’t have as much overhead room as some of its near competition, and of course the price.
Mazda 6’s start at $27,000 (Canadian) for a non-turbo GS entry, but the much better equipped Signature takes that to $38,800 and when optioned in Soul Red Crystal metallic paint (the only option on the test car, adds an additional $450) the car tops the 40K mark for an as-driven price of $41,045
Now, I know I always complain about prices, but remember, I said I was beautiful, not rich. You be the judge. Check out our Youtube video here: