Ah, the Mazda6. It is the most misunderstood car in its segment. The car came out swinging in 2002 as a 2003 model year midsize sedan, hatchback, and station wagon. It replaced the lesser appreciated final generation 626 with a homerun. And then, it died.
The 2nd generation put out the sales fire thanks in part to Mazda cutting the hatchback and wagon and while auto critics typically loved everything about the car, consumers went elsewhere. The current 3rd iteration of the car has also failed to get the attention we all think it deserves. Mazda’s added a new turbocharged engine in the hopes of rekindling interest in the lineup, and that happens to be the one I drove.
Is the Mazda6 Turbo the one that will reignite the passion for the nameplate? Should the Mazda6 land on your shortlist? Read on.
Why you should buy a 2018 Mazda6:
• The turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5 T engine is potent and advanced. With its 310 lb.-ft. of torque, it has made the 6 one of the most powerful cars in its midsize segment
• This engine is available as an option with the GS-L package which makes it the second most affordable high-powered turbo car in the segment after the Accord Sport 2.0
• The Mazda6 is one of the most attractive and dynamically styled cars you can find. Painted in Soul Red Crystal Pearl, it is nothing short of stunning
• It sports one of the largest cabins and trunks in the segment
• Mazda Connect will be available with a full battery of connectivity options including XM travel link, CarPlay and Android Auto
Why you should not buy a 2018 Mazda6:
• For the GT and Signature and their 19-inch wheels, the ride quality suffers just enough to deter potential buyers looking for a plusher, quieter yet more high-end driving experience
• The overall lower level of refinement (NVH) compared to some of its competitors is evident. This was once a consequence of a sportier car but is no longer the case
• Typically for Mazda, brake pedal response is below average. The brakes work obviously but I’d prefer far more performance from the big pedal especially with the turbocharged engine’s potential
• However physically appealing, the Mazda6 simply does not have the clout or recognition as being a viable option in the segment. Resale values are weaker than average for a Japanese product
The Mazda6 no longer has it, sadly. As I’ve stated, the Mazda lost it nearly a decade ago. Yet, the build sheets, the specs, all the reasons to like and buy the car are there but no one’s watching. While I love the SKYACTIV-G 2.5 T engine, I think Mazda should be inspired by what Nissan’s doing with its Altima.
What’s hurting the 6 can be summarized as follows: The first element is AWD. If Canadian consumers hesitated between an Altima and a 6, Nissan’s sealed the deal with standard AWD. I’m convinced very few care about the big engine and so it’s not a selling point. Secondly, while Nissan may not offer a hybrid version like Mazda, Toyota and Honda do. With safety and fuel economy high on buyer want lists, the Mazda6 lands below the Camry, Altima Accord, and Legacy almost immediately.
In other words, it still does not have a chance to shine. And I’m not saying the Mazda6 is so brilliant that you should overlook the competition – in fact, I can’t and won’t say it because I don’t believe that it’s the case, at least not at the moment.
The Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima are lovely cars but the midsize sedan category is owned by the Japanese. And the Toyota Camry continues to reign supreme followed by the latest Nissan Altima.
I’m convinced that Mazda’s not done with the 6. When considering how good the CX-5, CX-9 and MX-5 are, the next Mazda6 will likely be impressive.