The latest figures seem to indicate it was the right call.
Sales of the Mazda6 for last month were reported at 4,249 vehicles, a jump of nearly 167 percent over figures for August of 2012. That more than made up for the slight dip in the numbers for the company’s sales leader, the Mazda3, and helped the Japanese automaker to its best August sales report in 10 years.
Of course, the gross totals for the Mazda6 don’t approach those for Toyota’s Camry (44,713) or Honda’s Accord (38,559), or the Ford Fusion (24,653) for that matter. But they do indicate that Mazda is doing something right and consumers who like to shop out of the box are going to be rewarded here.
Though the engineers knocked two cylinders off the previous Mazda6’s power plant, the 184-horsepower four-banger they put in still provides an entertaining driving experience, at least when it is mated with a six-speed manual transmission (standard on Sport and Touring Trims), while offering fuel economy rated at 25 miles-per-gallon in the city and 37 on the highway.
A six-speed automatic transmission (standard on the Grand Touring model) bumps each of those numbers up a mile-per-gallon, but takes away the fun of driving a stick shift.
The Mazda6 is proof that a base model of a car doesn’t necessarily mean bare bones. The Sport trim includes such features as push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake (you do use your parking brake, don’t you, even with an automatic?), 17-inch alloy wheels, LED rear combination lights, and other features, some available only on models with automatic transmission.
The middle-of-the-lineup Mazda6 Touring model bumps the alloy wheels up to 19 inches and adds all the content from Sport AT models, which includes a 5.8 touchscreen display for audio and other functions such as the optional navigation system, Pandora internet radio capability, and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio.
Grand Touring versions add creature comforts like an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, driver’s seat memory, 4-way power front passenger seat, steering wheel-mounted shifts for manual selection of gears, a and SiriusXM satellite radio.
Price-wise, the Sport model stars at around $21,000 with the Grand Touring flirting with the $30,000 mark. In between and closer in MSRP to the Sport is the Touring at around $25,000.
The Touring model looks to be the best bargain with the kind of features most people want but without jacking up the price too high, especially if you can live without a nav system.
The Mazda6 is a pleasure to drive. It cruises on the highway well and with the right manipulation of the clutch, you can get the kind of performance out of manual transmission models usually found on cars with bigger power plants.
Still, if you want more torque than the 185 pound-feet the gas engine delivers and are patient, you can check out diesel versions. Originally due out in late fall, its introduction has been delayed until next spring. It sends 280 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels.