Still one of the best-looking and driving mid-size sedans.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2021 Mazda 6
Base price (Kuro trim): $37,950
Options: $200 Polymetal Grey Metallic paint
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $40,100
Long considered (in my books) the best-looking mid-size sedan, the Mazda 6 soldiers on with an aging but still stellar design.
It will take an educated eye to tell this new Kuro trim apart from the others – on the outside it gets the black metallic 19-inch rims and black mirror caps, as well as this outstanding optional colour – I love it!
LED lighting is found all the way around the 6 and looks awesome.
Otherwise, it’s the same body as we’ve seen before, and that’s a good thing. Swoopy fenders, sleek and sexy lines and cohesive modern yet emotional exterior.
Inside, there are again a few Kuro-related additions. You get the Garnet red leather upholstery on the seats, which are heated and ventilated, comfortable and aggressively bolstered for sportier driving. You also get door and dash pads with red stitching, and black trimmed front and rear door panels.
The simple and clean styling inside works very well. Mazda uses a very nice selection of materials – plenty of stitched soft-touch panels, etc.
The heated steering wheel is grippy and feels great. The instrument bin behind it contains 3 gauges – the middle “gauge” is a slick driver-configurable screen.
While the centre console is pretty wide, Mazda has seen fit to put upholstered panels on the sides that go all the way back, which is great for drivers like me that rest their knee against the console. Centred in the dash you’ll find an 8-inch screen jutting out of the dash. It functions as a touchscreen and can also be managed using the HMI rotary control knob on the console. It’s not my favourite user interface, and occasionally things feel a bit nested, but overall, it works fine. This handles all of your phone, navigation and sound functions. The BOSE-branded system with 11 speakers is, depending on the music source, good or great. I loved the wireless Apple CarPlay – that’s such a useful and convenient feature.
There is plenty of driver assistance technology – blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, adaptive head lights, 360-degree camera with front and rear parking sensors, an excellent heads-up display, traffic sign recognition, collision avoidance braking with pedestrian detection, a lane-departure warning and a lane-keep system.
I’m not sure what decade the back-up/360-degree cameras are from but they are, without a doubt, the worst and most distorted picture I’ve seen on a car’s screen in a long time. Absolutely terrible.
There is a small, standard-sized sunroof overhead.
Sitting in the back is comfortable, with good leg room and decent head room for me, at 5’10”. I think bigger passengers would be running out of room within short order though.
The middle seatback folds down to reveal a hidden set of features – there are two cupholders and an armrest, a carpeted storage bin, the seat heater buttons and two USB charging plugs. The downside of this is if you have a middle rear passenger, none of those things can be accessed. There are two sets of LATCH anchors for child seats.
I liked the rubberized open bin at the front of the centre console, as well as the scrolling lid that covers the cupholders. There’s also a small carpeted bin, as well as two USB ports and a 12V plug, under the armrest lid.
The trunk is spacious enough at 416L.
Under the Hood
The Kuro automatically gets the turbo engine, also standard in the even-higher Signature trim. It’s a 2.5L turbo 4-cylinder that kicks out 250 HP and 320 lb.ft of torque. That’s with premium fuel, but you can run regular gas harm-free – the only penalty is a few horsepower and a few pound-feet of torque.
The 6 is a front-wheel driver and has what seems like an ancient (in terms of how many gear ratios it has) transmission – it’s only a 6-speed.
Fuel economy is rated at 10/7.5 L/100 km – I averaged a higher 11.5 L/100km but almost exclusively commuted in the city during an extremely cold week, so that’s no fault of the car’s.
As expected from all Mazda products, the driving experience is excellent. While the turbo engine has more than enough jam to pull the 6 along in a hurry, I previously felt that it never quite made as much power as it says it does on paper. I can’t explain that, but 320 lb.ft of torque ought to feel like more, to be honest. It’s not a slow car, not at all, but I expected it to feel quicker. With that said, I didn’t have the opportunity to stretch this 6’s legs much at all – it was a bitterly cold week with plenty of fresh snow, and any tap on the go-pedal resulted in the traction control coming into play and nothing more. I yearned for a great all-wheel drive system and wish Mazda would put one in this car.
The transmission has a Sport mode which will hang on to gears a bit longer, and you can use the paddle shifters too, but they’re not particularly fast. Occasionally I wished for another gear or two, but overall, even though it’s only a 6-speed, it does a fine job.
Where the Mazda6 truly impresses is in the suspension department. The ride is sublime, quiet and supple, but still firm. But the real win here is the car’s handling. The Mazda6 is truly fun to drive. It turns in quickly and it stays remarkably flat. The well-tuned suspension makes this car feel playful and willing and I always enjoyed driving it.
The brakes are good. I found the Mazda6 to be mostly quiet, although on the highway, the road noise picked up considerably – I found that in the summer in previous 6s as well as now, and I suspect the winter tires don’t help one bit.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was high. She thinks it’s a good-looking car (for a sedan) and liked how it drove.
The Mazda6 is one of my favourite mid-size sedans because it’s a great driving experience. It manages to balance comfort and handling, and has ample power reserves when you need them.
This is such a great car, but as much as I’d like to see Mazda get rewarded by selling more of them, the competition is very, very strong in this category. Honda’s Accord, Toyota’s Camry, Hyundai’s Sonata…. yep, it’s a rough crowd.
But if you’re after a mid-size sedan that looks fantastic, and does almost everything very well, make sure the 6 is on your shopping list.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Mazda Canada.
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