Last time I reviewed a Mazda6 a few years back, I said that it was often overlooked by intermediate sedan buyers and that it was one of those rare automobiles that could enjoy twice the usual four-year model run and still look good. Even so, the Zoom Zoom people have brought us an updated model for 2017 and the Hiroshima company has taken the car up another notch, partly to try and snare a bigger piece of the market in which it competes.
The first generation Mazda6 was introduced in 2004 - replacing the old 626 sedan - and was something of an instant success, winning the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada “Best Family Car” award when it first appeared. In 2014 when the current generation was launched, the Mazda6 took overall AJAC Car of the Year accolades against stiff opposition from key rivals.
Styling is attractive and athletic and many would argue that it outdoes some of its competition in this segment. It’s not a car that will draw gasps of awe from onlookers, but it does look “right” from every angle and epitomizes stylish good taste. There’s nothing outlandish or flashy about it. The 2017 car is the first Mazda to apply the new G-Vectoring Control (GVC) in North America. GVC is the first in a series of new SKYACTIV technologies that Mazda says provide integrated control of the engine, transmission, chassis and body to impart what the automaker calls “a horse and rider feel.” The end result is aimed at creating greater driver confidence and control in all kinds of situations out on the road.
Other 2017 upgrades include a wide-angle rearview camera, better sound insulation, improved door seals, a new (heated) steering wheel, head-up display, regenerative braking, radar cruise control and lots of other goodies, depending which trim package you choose – GX, GS or GT. All models sold in Canada use a 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G engine with 184-horsepower. The Mazda6 is one of very few cars in its class to offer both automatic and manual transmissions. Many rivals haven’t had a manual transmission option for several years.
The intelligently executed interior is available with leather trim and also piping in a contrasting colour, which looks very upscale. A well-optioned Mazda6 is very close in look and quality to similarly-sized models from rival automakers’ luxury divisions. Even the entry-level Mazda6 boasts an interior few would complain about and as with all products from this automaker, it’s very well finished with a high standard of component and trim fit too.
There’s no doubt that the 2017 Mazda6 is a sporty car to drive in any form and should be a very sound competitor for its main rivals, especially when it comes to price and also fuel economy, which is outstanding. It’s a pity that some buyers don’t look that much further than the top-selling midsize sedans when shopping this segment. No final purchasing decision for a car in this class should be made before subjecting the 2017 Mazda6 to an intensive test drive. It might surprise a few people who’ve overlooked Mazda before in this class.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: 4-door, mid-sized sedan
ENGINE: 2.5-litre 4-cyl, 184-horsepower
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, according to engine option
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 7-0-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 9.4-litres/100 km city; 6.4-litres/100 km highway (base car)
PRICE: Range $24,695 to $36,795 MSRP