The new Mazda6 front drive sedan has been remade for 2014. It sports a stylish, appealing appearance with a sporty flair. Same for the interior with its shapely, cozy seats.
But that’s not the entire story as the Mazda6 Sport we tested had a lot going for it in that it’s a compelling alternative to Camry, Accord and Ford Fusion, especially in price.
Mazda6 is offered in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels. It’s rare that a car company offers a base model for testing, as the norm is always a top end, fully loaded model.
Powered by a 184-hp (185 lb/ft of torque) inline 4-cylinder coupled to a standard 6-speed manual transmission, the combination offered spirited performance with EPA mileage estimates of 25 city, 37-higway mpg (29 mpg combined). Now that’s impressive mileage for a midsize sedan, even if it doesn’t meet those exact figures in real life driving. (Mazda is introducing a diesel version this fall that is expected to have 40-mpg highway mileage)
As for the clutch, it had light pressure for easy engagement. Most folks, however, will opt for extra cost 6-speed automatic that comes standard in the Grand Touring model.
What amazed me about this engine was its quietness. At idle it was so quiet it gave the impression it was a hybrid that goes into sleep mode. Most four bangers are noisy.
The Sport model came with grey cloth seats and a charcoal grey exterior. A combination mostly suited for members of the clergy. Despite its color, the interior was handsome and simplistic with no tricky gadgetry.
Although the Sport had space for an LCD screen, this space was dedicated to the radio. It lacked a GPS nav system and rearview camera system that comes standard when ordering the auto trans. It would have been nice if Mazda had embedded an inexpensive rearview camera system into the rearview mirror. Presumably, they didn’t include those two goodies to keep the base price down.
All HVAC functions are easy to decipher and use with large rotary dials. The radio sits atop the vertical stack in a pod-like assembly. This is where a GPS and rearview camera system could easily be situated if it had them.
The back seat, as are the front seats, is soft and comfy over the long haul. Ingress/egress is easy thanks to wide opening doors where there’s ample leg and headroom. Overall volume, however, is a tad smaller than in Camry and Accord; but still cozy.
Trunk space is rated at 14.8 cubic feet and is large enough to accommodate two large size roll-a-longs or a pair of golf bags if the 60/40 seatbacks are flipped, which is accomplished by pulling two handles in the upper portion of the trunk. There are also four assist handles above each door whereas most cars have only three.
As for handling, with electric assisted steering the Mazda6 parks easily and has precise tracking. With semi-firm suspension tuning, there’s a bit of sporty feeling when negotiating tight turns. As such, the ride on 17-inch Yokohama tires is on the firm side but not harsh. Over unimproved railroad crossings or really rough roads the sensation reverberates into the otherwise quiet cabin.
With a fair amount of standard features such as Halogen headlamps/running lights, keyless ignition, ABS with brake assist, traction control, hill launch assist, LED taillights and more, the Mazda6 carried a base price of $20,880 or $21,575 with delivery. Just looking at it, you’d think it would cost in the low 30s.
Now I ask you. Where can you get an appealing midsize sedan for this little money? There were no extra cost options, which kept the price extremely reasonable. Yet the car is not bare bones, just adequately equipped.
To test drive a Mazda6, stop by Scott Mazda on Lehigh St. in Allentown or Young Mazda on Commerce Park Drive in Easton.
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