Auto Review: The SKYACTIV Mazda6

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Sep. 19, 2013
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

As you may have observed with Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” ad campaign, the company likes to explain its products in fun, evocative terms. A fresher example is how they describe the all-important midsize sedan class as “Not too big, not too small, but just right.” They’re certainly onto something here, for thanks to this quality (and other attributes), midsized sedans are some of the best overall vehicles you can get at any price. With leaders like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Ford Fusion to contend with at the head of the class, the Mazda6 would have to be something quite special to challenge the other guys. They have put great effort into sharpening the car’s abilities on pretty much every front, and when the finished product was revealed, the company was feeling very good about it – especially in terms of better fuel efficiency.

“As the second production vehicle to feature the full suite of SKYACTIV®1 technologies, the 2014 Mazda6 should not be confused with mythical creatures like the griffin, jackalope, Bigfoot or a freewheeling Pegasus,” said a press release. As whimsical as this characterization may seem, Mazda’s new midsize sedan is a tad magical, in that it really does do everything well, and manages to distinguish itself from the crowd while being unusually fun to drive.

SKYACTIV technology is Mazda’s name for a design and engineering approach that uses a variety of new strategies to improve efficiency and performance, with an eye on making the car more dynamic and entertaining for the driver and passengers alike. Our front-drive Mazda6 Touring package included the SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter Inline Four with 184 horsepower, and there is a choice of two SKYACTIV gearboxes: a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Both of these transmissions have been reengineered to maximize efficiency and therefore fuel economy, but in the case of our tester, the manual transmission also turned out to be very crisp and refined and ultimately a perfect match for the 6’s sporting side. This sort of sums up what a pleasant surprise this car was, for not only is it a roomy and comfortable midsize, but it also is really fun to hustle through tight bends and a genuine pleasure to drive. Acceleration is not neck-snapping, but the reward is exemplary fuel economy and the light weight of the chassis (thanks to extensive use of high-tensile steel) benefits both the handling and braking.

The dynamic, appealing styling of the new Mazda6 body is balanced by a roomy, well-furnished interior that is as traditional as it is efficient, with clear, familiar instrumentation and straightforward controls. The leatherette-trimmed sport seats are supportive enough to encourage aggressive driving, while the rear seat passengers get room to stretch out and a smooth, quiet ride. The structural enhancements that benefit handling also help keep the cabin quiet at speed, rounding out a very formidable competitor in a very impressive class of automobiles.

The 2014 Mazda6 Touring is EPA rated 25 MPG city/37 highway and has a base price of $23,445.


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