2014 Mazda Mazda6 Road Test Review
By Bob Plunkett
The Pig Trail Scenic Byway -- twisty Arkansas 23 running through the Ozark Mountains with steep mountain grades and scary hairpin corners -- becomes our serpentine road track to sample the road-hugging agility and athletic manners of the 2014 Mazda6, Mazda's all-new mid-size sedan.
This next-generation iteration of the Mazda6 does not protest our aggressive treatment in the driver's seat. Actually, it seems to invite more action as we draw quick lines across apexes of so many curves and cruise neatly over whoop-de-do pavement heaves.
The redesigned Mazda6 of 2014 looks lean and aggressive, with swoopy exterior lines spread across a broad structure and bulbous arched fenders that protrude laterally beyond a curt roll of the front hood to articulate low-profile tires mounted on aluminum alloy wheels.
Behind the new sheetmetal, Mazda's front-wheel-drive sedan contains a rigid high-tensile steel structure with the wheelbase stretched to 111.4 inches and the track width at 62.8/62.4 inches front/rear. These linear expansions forge a broad and long footprint which enhances the vehicle's stability in motion and handling traits.
Roll over pavement bumps and the independent suspension -- MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in back with a stabilizer bar at both ends tuned to check excessive lateral roll of the body -- blips tires (base version 17-inch 225/55R17 or top-trim 19-inch 225/45R19) in exacting up-down motions and delivers a firm ride quality.
Turn the sporty steering wheel and Mazda6 cuts with direct action, thanks to a rack and pinion device with electric variable power assistance.
For keen stopping power, a disc brake mounts at each wheel with 11.7-inch vented front rotors and 11.9-inch solid rear rotors. All tie to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), traction control system (TCS) plus a dynamic stability control (DSC) anti-skid device and hill launch assist (HLA) program.
Muscle for Mazda6 flows from Mazda's new SKYACTIV engine with fuel-saving and performance-geared technologies.
The innovative plant -- an aluminum 2.5-liter in-line-4 with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and variable valve timing (VVT) -- features multi-hole injectors to enhance fuel spray characteristics and a high compression ratio of 13.0:1. It delivers 184 hp at 5700 rpm with 185 lb-ft of torque at 3250 rpm.
New transmissions work with the SKYACTIV engine -- driver's choice of a short-stick manual 6-speed transmission or a smooth 6-speed electronic automatic with manual shift mode.
EPA fuel economy figures tally to 25 mpg for city driving and 37 mpg on the highway with the 6-speed manual, or 26/38 mpg city/highway with the 6-speed automatic.
Later in the model-year, Mazda will roll out an optional SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine, along with a variant to the 2.5-liter gasoline engine dubbed i-ELOOP. The i-ELOOP kit adds a regenerative braking system to convert the vehicle's kinetic energy into electricity for briefly powering various electrical devices and ultimately elevating the fuel economy numbers.
Mazda builds Mazda6 with the 2.5-liter gasoline engine in three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Sport and Touring models stock the manual transmission with the automatic optional, while the Grand Touring model get the automatic exclusively.
Mazda6 Sport lists standard equipment like air conditioning, cloth fabric seat upholstery, driver's seat with 6-way manual controls, a leather-bound steering wheel with tilt/telescope controls, power tabs to work windows/locks/mirrors, a push-button starter and remote keyless entry device, cruise control and trip computer, folding rear seatback with 60/40 split and an audio kit with AM/FM/CD/USB and six speakers.
Mazda6 Touring carries more gear such as a 2-zone automatic climate system, driver's seat with 6-way power, leatherette seat upholstery, front console with sliding armrest, plus added electronic safety equipment like Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Mazda6 Grand Touring adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and 8-way power for the driver's seat, steering wheel paddle shifters, a power sunroof, bi-xenon headlamps, foglamps, LED daytime running lamps and adaptive front-lighting system.
Additional gear clusters in packages, such as the Technology Package which installs a navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto-dimming driver's side mirror and heated side mirrors, plus a Bose audio system with 11 speakers and Smart City Brake Support.
Mazda's 2014 MSRP list extends from $20,880 for Mazda6 Sport to $29,495 for Mazda6 Grand Touring.
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