Seemingly lost in the titanic battle of Honda versus Toyota, Mazda soldiers on. Vehicles coming from Hiroshima were dependable and perhaps a bit bland in the mainstream. Yet, examples like the MX5 (Miata) and RX-8 put Mazda out on the edge. With the release of the new CX-5, and judging how many seem to be on the road in a very short time, Mazda has struck a new imprint that should appeal to a wider audience.
In keeping with this theme, is the all new Mazda 6 sedan. Mazda used to take a smaller vehicle against the full-size offerings of their aforementioned compatriots, but with the last generation 6, Mazda up-sized to play in the same sandbox as Accord, Camry and Altima.
The new generation sedan echos the wave inspired Nagare concept that debuted at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. It’s found a home in the CX-5, the Mazda5 and now the all-new 6, in a more stately expression than the original show car. The entire silhouette suggests a wave breaking onto the beach. The cut lines in the front fenders swell to yield a power dome hood, which gives the suggestion of power while meeting pedestrian safety standards for Europe. The lower belt line sweep meets visually with the line below the fog light, harmonizing and emphasizing the front end. The front grille is massive, even though most of the cooling work is done by the lower inlet. The nose chin is reminiscent of a Formula 1 wing and splitter, and the shark-like face continues the nautical theme. The shape of the rear bumper includes two small waves at either end. The lower fascia with an offsetting colour breaks up the massive expanse of rear plastic found on so many of today’s vehicles. A splash of chrome accents the trunk and a rear spoiler gives the rear end a sporting touch.
Under the hood, the 6 has one powertrain; Mazda’s SkyActive 2.5 litre, dual overhead cam normally aspirated engine that makes 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm. More importantly, the torque rating is 185 lb-ft at 3,250 rpm, giving sufficient low-end grunt at stoplights.
Three trim levels offer a Mazda 6 for everyone. The entry level GX includes P225/55/17 tires on alloy rims, an available 6-speed automatic transmission, four wheel disc brakes, independent suspension with stabilizer bars, rain sensor controlled wipers, heated outside mirrors, a 6-way driver’s seat, air conditioning, heated front seats, sunvisors with mirrors and extensions, a power trunk release, keyless remote entry, auto drive-away locking, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free phone with audio streaming, and the full complement of safety features including six air bags, active front head restraints, battery saver and security system.
Move ahead to the GS trim, and Mazda adds leather on the steering wheel and shift knob, a sliding centre armrest, power driver’s seat (still 6-way), dual zone automatic temperature control, illuminated vanity mirrors, one touch up down on all windows, intelligent key, paddle shifters, a rear-view monitor and blind spot warning. Interestingly, Mazda has chosen the BMW route with the transmission: the 6-speed automatic is a no-charge extra over the 6-speed manual at this trim level and above.
The up-level GT includes larger 19″ wheels and tires, high intensity discharge headlights, auto dimming outside mirrors, leather seating surfaces, an 8-way power driver’s seat and 4-way power passenger seat, an auto-dimming inside rear view mirror, navigation, HomeLink, and an eleven speaker Bose audio system.
A Technology package can be added to the GT that gives intelligent cruise control, forward collision warning with mitigating braking, lane departure warning, auto-dimming headlights and satellite radio.
Let’s step back to the GS with Luxury trim level, likely one of the more popular iterations of the line. It borrows features from the GT at a lower price point, including leather seating surfaces that feel comfortable without a too-short cushion for adequate thigh support. Radio steering wheel controls, Bluetooth control for cell phones and Bluetooth music streaming are all standard at this level, plus navigation, power windows with one-touch up and down switch gear, a sliding centre armrest for elbow support that can be ‘just so’, a power trunk release prevents a fresh manicure from damage by a manual lever and rear seats that fold flat to carry extra long loads are among the thoughtful touches of the interior. This will be a very popular choice at just over $30,000.
Let’s see how the new Mazda 6 stacks up against the Accord. First, the ‘cost of entry’:
The differences in equipment:
The rest of the story:
The value advantage goes to Mazda6. However, all is not what it seems. Even though the Mazda has a slight advantage in total dollar value, the Accord carries a number of features that you can’t get on the Mazda until the fully loaded GT level with the Technology Package at $34,195. If forward collision warning, lane departure warning, satellite radio and active noise control are important to you at a lower price point, the Accord is for you. If you’re looking to make a statement with exterior style, look to the Mazda 6. Either way, the new Mazda 6 is a viable entry in the full-size sedan segment.