By on February 7, 2013

Last year, carmakers sold more than 1.8 million midsize sedans in the United States.  That’s 155,000 per month; 5,095 per day; 212 per hour.  It’s 3.53 per minute, even when the dealers are closed, the lights are off, and the salespeople are fast asleep, dreaming of silk ties and customers who show up in rental cars.

The Toyota Camry accounted for 22 percent of those sales, totaling nearly 405,000 units.  The Honda Accord was 332,000 units, or 18 percent.  And the Mazda6, admittedly competing as production of its second-generation model was winding down?  Just 33,000 units.  Only 1.8 percent.

But if you talk to Mazda, that’s just fine.

Of course, “fine” doesn’t mean “ideal.”  Like all automakers these days, Mazda has its eye on sales numbers.  But just an eye – a refreshing change from some brands, who only remember pesky little things like profit when the finance department calls and reminds everyone that’s why a company exists in the first place.  To make a profit.

When you’re not hell-bent on sales volume, this funny little thing happens.  You no longer have to appeal to everyone.  Instead, you can do a pretty damn good job of honing in on satisfying your own customers.  Forget the Camry buyers and the Malibu crowd.  Mazda doesn’t even consider the Ford Fusion a Mazda6 competitor.  Instead, the latest Mazda6 is simply an effort to turn the kind of people who buy a Mazda3 into the kind of people who buy a Mazda6.

With that goal in mind, it’s a direct hit.

Our man Derek Kreindler already covered the things that make the Mazda6 a great driving car, so I won’t go into detail.  But beyond drivability, the Mazda6 is good for entirely different reasons.  Like the fact that it brings sleek style and sporty substance to a segment sorely devoid of it.  The last Mazda6 was a bulbous, rubbery effort to copy class leaders.  It was a volume brand play, complete with front fenders borrowed from the McDonald’s arches.

But that was a mistake – a fact that would likely be recognized by everyone except Enterprise, who was just happy to have sedans that weren’t the Chrysler Sebring.  Mazda cultivated its “Zoom Zoom” reputation on sportiness, and for once that car guy fantasy actually worked.  Witness the Mazda3, undoubtedly the star of the segment and Mazda’s top seller.  It turns out sporty can sell.

And using the Mazda3’s formula of sporty and stylish, the Mazda6 will indeed sell – especially among a group of cars that range from handsome to loathsome, but never sporty.  Even the much-lauded Ford Fusion, raved about here and elsewhere, is no Mazda6 under intense cornering.  Consider it: if even five percent of midsize sedan buyers prioritize “sporty,” Mazda has just tripled its market share.

But, you’ll argue, the Fusion has more power.  So does the Accord; the Malibu.  Even the Camry, which everyone knows is no excitement machine.  So why doesn’t the Mazda6 have a V6?

I have two theories here.  One: it doesn’t need it.  On the road, I’m consistently surprised that every Sonata I see is a 2.4-liter, every RSX is a base model, every Mustang is a V6.  The truth is, everyone loves the idea of a Camry that hits 60 in six seconds, but when it comes time to write the check, you’d actually rather save the money: at the dealer and at the pump; when trading it in, and when buying insurance.

My second theory is a little more comforting to those that actually do buy the Mustang GT, the RSX Type-S and the Sonata 2.0T.  You know, the automotive one percent.  To them, I say: Mazda will probably acquiesce to the pressure.  Maybe it won’t be a V6, but I’d expect a turbo four.  Either way, don’t be surprised if a more powerful Mazda6 is on the way.

But it doesn’t really need it.  Because even in its current form, the latest Mazda6 is good enough to capture a much larger chunk of the market than 1.8 percent.  Not that Mazda’s watching.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta.  One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer.  His parents are very disappointed.

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57 Comments on “2014 Mazda6: Take Two...”


  • avatar
    FordMan_48126

    Doug;

    Nice article, but I think your main arguement is a bit off the mark (i.e. if even 5% of midsize sedan buyers prioritized sporty, Mazada6 would triple sales).

    Midsize sedan buyers whom prioritze sporty aren’t looking at Fusion, Camry, Malibu or even Mazada6…they are called BMW/Audi buyers if sporty is their #1 priority.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree that maybe most people looking for “sporty” will look at BMW etc. But there will be many people, including myself, who need a midsize car (which a 3 series or A4 are not) and want to spend less than say $30,000. Ford have done this with the Mondeo/Fusion and Mazda have successfully done it with the Mazda 3 (the standard one) where by your logic people who want sport would get a 1 series or A3.

      So Doug has it right, there is a market, likely greater than 1.8%, for a sporty midsize car that is competitively spacious, fuel economic and priced. Mazda has fixed two issues they had – off putting exterior design and poor fuel economy. Their CX5 and 6 give great promise to the new 3 later this year.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Honestly… as a Mazda 6 owner, I can tell you that I find BMW/Audi as too “common”. Everyone has one. Its a sign of initial/infantile success. Make a few extra thousand this year??? By a Bimmer (and I pity the Audi fools)!!

      Being a previous Accord owner prior to the Mazda, I can honesly say that I’d MUCH rather be driving something that offers all of the driving dynamics (minus the RWD) of the BMW, in a MUCH rarer form.

      Case in point- most upper-middle class sprawlings will have a LARGE number of new Accords and Camry’s and BMW 3/5′s, and Audi A4/A6′s abound… but how many Mazdas do you see? Not many. The 6 went thru a rough few years from 2009-2013 but the 2004-2008 and the new model are well above and beyond anything that Toyota and Honda have come up with in that segment- as far as “enthusiasm” is concerned, and they cost half the amount of a BMW. Its a win/win. Spend less and enjoy driving just as much.

      • 0 avatar
        ldl20

        “Case in point- most upper-middle class sprawlings will have a LARGE number of new Accords and Camry’s and BMW 3/5′s, and Audi A4/A6′s abound… but how many Mazdas do you see? Not many. The 6 went thru a rough few years from 2009-2013 but the 2004-2008 and the new model are well above and beyond anything that Toyota and Honda have come up with in that segment- as far as “enthusiasm” is concerned, and they cost half the amount of a BMW. Its a win/win. Spend less and enjoy driving just as much.”
        +1

        That’s why I took a minor hit in transferring a 10 month old Jetta SEL lease last September in order to buy the car I should have bought a long time ago: 2006 Mazda6 wagon GT. I love wagons, but didn’t want to spend 30-50K for an A4, 3-series, TSX, etc, so I found a pristine example in dark cherry with every option except Nav, about 12K, and it only had 47K miles on it. I also like that you don’t see many of these cars (especially the wagon), and they are fun to drive, relatively speaking.

        Now, if Mazda brought along a new wagon…..I would think hard about snapping one up (lightly used, of course).

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Or, if they don’t want to spend the cash on a BMW or Audi, performance-oriented midsize sedan buyers end up with Acuras — especially if they want a manual transmission. This happened to me in late 2009. I care about performance, but for a variety of reasons the 3 Series didn’t work at the time, and I wasn’t about to try Audi’s “reliability.” I considered sport compacts — MS3 and WRX — but needed more room for family road trips, and their interiors fell a bit short. I considered the Mazda 6 with 6MT, but the four cylinder was too weak and the road noise was brutal.

      So I ended up with a 6MT TSX, which occupied an odd space between the mainstream sedans and BMW, Audi, et al. Less performance and luxury than BMW, but more than Mazda 6, Accord, etc. It’s a compromise on virtually every front, but excellent overall and an outstanding daily driver. I’d like to see Mazda move into this space by reviving the Mazdaspeed 6 with an efficient DI turbo four, perhaps without the heavy, fuel guzzling AWD this time around.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr D

      @ FordMan . . . The thing is, if you’re looking for “mid-sized” sedan from BMW, Audi etc… You’re looking at an A6 or a 5 series. That right there pushes the price well beyond what I want to pay. Even if a 3 series or A4 has enough elbow room for my family, to option it like a 6 GT will still push the price to $40K if not beyond. To get BSM, Lane Departure, Brake Support, Adaptive HIDs and more, you have to heavily option an Audi or BMW.

      If many buyers in the segment are like me, we know that a car in the family sedan segment won’t give us the ultimate joy of driving a real sports car but to even have the option of a roomy, well equipped sedan in the $25K – $30K price range that is actually entertaining to drive is a God send. Most other cars in the segment penalize buyers with ho hum styling and OK handling. But the new 6 is a huge breath of fresh air. While I can afford an Audi or BMW, I don’t really care to spend much more than ~$30K on a car anymore and the 6 hits the sweet spot.

      Done the road when I become and empty nester, a RWD 3 series might fit the bill, but right now, not so much.

      Icing on the cake is that the 6 will most likely be more reliable and cheaper to insure.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Yep.

        Comparing the “compact” 3 Series to the midsize Mazda6 isn’t really an apples to apples comparison; need to move up to the 5 Series to have similar amounts of passenger room and a well-equipped 3 Series is already a good bit more than a well-equipped 6.

        Having said that, the “enthusiast” buyer is a very small segment of the mainstream midsize segment, but if Mazda can get 3 owners to move up to the 6 when they need more room (growing family), that will be a victory for Mazda.

        Also, the new 6 will likely help Mazda increase sales in the midsize segment in markets where Mazda does well like Canada and Australia (granted, smaller auto markets).

  • avatar
    confuzdbycloudz

    I hope that the Mazda 6 sells well like the 3 and the Cx-5. Because Rotary.

  • avatar
    Nick

    There’s a 6 just like this parked out front of a local dealer. It really is a good looking, especially when compared to the rolling eyesores that blight the landscape these days.

    • 0 avatar
      nic_mach

      Right on. After the Fusion, this is the best looking car on the road – two family sedans!

      • 0 avatar
        Spanish Inquisition

        The Fusion is a massive miss for me. Squinty eyes, massive, uninspired front grill, high looking belt line. The 6, on the other hand, I feel is a much more cohesive design. It wasn’t an Aston, then bore’d down to Ford levels of design, but Mazda Kodo kicked up a notch. Muscular, with swages all in the right places. The rear end is kinda big looking, but the wagon neatly solves that problem. The belt line doesn’t look high, but I bet it’s at approximately the same height as every other car on the market.

        I think new cars could really do away with those flat sides on the end of the fender flares. I miss nicely flared fenders from the factory. Damn you, safety standards.

        I think these two cars need a vellum venom vignette article. Thankfully, the 6 is present on the lots of dealerships.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The Optima SX still takes the cake when it comes to sheetmetal in the mainstream midsize segment.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I hope this Mazda does at least 5% but I don’t want it to do too much better than that. I want to know that I won’t see them at every street corner… *cough*Camry*cough*.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I own a 2008 Mazda 6 GT. I should love the car as it has been very reliable. But I never have. The interior is just too uninspiring, the performance is just enough to remind that this is not a sports sedan and the gas mileage is mediocre. The next 6 cannot be afraid to stand out from the crowd of mid size appliances. A MS6 would do that nicely.

  • avatar
    StaysCrunchy

    When we went looking for a new(er) car for the wife a few months ago, we ended up with a 2010 Mazda 6. She isn’t a “car gal” so the beigeness of cars like Camry and Accord doesn’t matter to her, she just wants something that looks good (regardless of brand or model) and she likes driving, and the Mazda 6 won. We’ve really enjoyed the car so far, and this new redesign should be even better. I think shoppers who don’t consider the Mazda 6 are really missing the boat.

  • avatar
    readallover

    As the owner of a 2004 6 I remember the reviews saying the 2.3 four cylinder wasn`t powerful enough and you really should get the V6. They were wrong then and wrong now.

    • 0 avatar
      ccd1

      Problem is that the 6 is not that powerful. Always thought the turbo 4 would have been a better choice for the car.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Based solely on experience with the new Bimmer turbo4, and on Audi’s 2.0: Turbo 4s are the end of driving enjoyment, once and for all…..

        Honda and others manage to get equivalent efficiency out of 6s, which are simply soooooo much more endearing.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    I’m still not sold on the styling. Have yet to drive one but going on plain styling I prefer the new Fusion. I’m a design guy and style is going to play a role in my purchase decisions.

    My beef with Mazda is build quality. I had a 2004 Mazda 6 several years back. While it was a 5 speed and zoom-zoom with the V6 the fit and finish paled in comparison to my Accord. Simple acts like pulling the door shut gave a clunk of flimsy compared to the Honda. Fit and finish just wasn’t class leading.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I think there are a couple of buyers that could look at this car. One, as you basically describe, Mazda’s 3 could do for the brand what BMW’s 3 has done for them, get the buyers into the brand early and then offer them something to step up to (I’d be willing to bet that many of the older buyers of a 5, 7, or x5 started out in 3 series and bought bigger cars as their paychecks and brood got larger). Many of the Mazda buyers that I know tend to be pretty loyal to the brand. Of my 4 friends who have bought a Mazda in the past year or so, two were trading in Mazdas, and my Miata owning sister may soon be buying a new 3 as well. Giving them something to step up to as they outgrow their 3s makes sense.

    Mazda also has a unique opportunity in that many of the enthusiast brands are increasingly alienating their core fans. If Mazda positions themselves well as the last refuge for disgruntled fanbois (although I wouldn’t recommend that as your marketing slogan) everywhere, numbers of buyers that are a decimal rounding error to VW, Audi, BMW, and Honda could, as stated in the article, represent a meaningful increase in sales to Mazda. I know I have really enjoyed Mazda’s advertisements as of late, whether its the zoom zoom slogan (which I think has the potential to rival “ultimate driving machine” in the long run), or the “if it’s not worth driving, it’s not worth building” tagline. That, and Dodge’s Challenger ad in which they described the car as “Designed by people who really really love cars for people who really really love cars to drive past people who really don’t care about cars at all” have had a greater impact on me in terms of making me really want to buy that particular car than any add since BMW’s “Play” ads for the e46 coupes when they debuted.

    Many of us who like the driving dynamics of VWs are suffering the twin disappointments of the new direction of the Passat and Jetta as well as the frustration with VW reliability and cost of ownership. A car with European driving dynamics/pleasure and Japanese reliability remains the holy grail of enthusiast designs. You’ve also get increasingly disenchanted BMW owners like myself. The more BMW dumbs down the driving experience in their cars, the less willing I’m going to be to pay the BMW premium in terms of both acquisition and ownership costs. People who add Vtech juice to their smoothies are still smarting over the strut suspension and general blandness of the Civics and Accords, the impending death of the TSX, and the lack of any replacement for their Integras/RSXs.

    As far as turbo engines go, Mazda has the 2.3 liter that’s been in the Mazdaspeed cars as well as the CX-7, but that engine is getting old and is clearly behind the ball as far as fuel economy goes (consider the Focus ST’s city rating is the same or better than the MS3′s highway). Could one of the B&B from an engineering background opine on how the skyactive suite of engine technologies would adapt to forced induction? Perhaps Mazda might simply continue to purchase Ford 3.7 V6′s if needed. If Ford can get 31 mpg highway out of the engine in the Mustang, you’d think Mazda could get the engine to beat that in the ligher 6 with less horsepower and a more sophisticated transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I recall one of Mazda’s info packets on SkyActiv saying that it is not intended for forced induction, and they will not go the route of turbo-ing them in the future. I don’t know the history of the 2.3L turbo in the Speed3, so I don’t know where it came from or what can be done to it to improve it. They have said that there will be no SkyActiv V6s.

      The V6 in the prior 6 is the same Duratec 37 as the Mustang V6, so while it would be nice to keep it in the line-up, it may only appear in the CX-9.

  • avatar
    redav

    I do believe the styling & sportiness give this one an advantage in the market. However, that market needs to know that it’s there, because I think a lot more people would buy Mazdas if they were aware about them.

    Three points on the V6:
    1. Diesel hits later this year. It will be offered on only the Grand Touring trim, like the V6 used to be, so I fully suspect it is intended to be a direct replacement for the V6.
    2. I believe Mazda sold between 5% & 10% of 6s with the V6, which is similar to other brands’ numbers. Missing out on that for half a year shouldn’t be too painful, especially since it looks like many are willing to wait.
    3. Mazda execs confirmed that they were considering future options for the 6, namely a coupe and a MazdaSpeed version. I have no interest in a coupe, but a MazdaSpeed would be welcome. (I am also hoping that the Speed version–since it is a new model that would require all the govt testing no matter the body style–be the wagon. That would kill two birds with one stone.) If they did a Speed version, there essentially would be no need for a V6 in the non-Speed.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1
      Especially point 3 – there will be a MazdaSpeed 6 (body style still undecided from reports) and I would expect that engine would see service in the new MazdaSpeed 3 (current engine has terrible fuel economy) and the CX9 (again to probably increase fuel economy). If there is a MS6 then no need for a V6 model since the MS6 will have comparable performance AND suspension tweaks – Honda, Toyota etc just give their midsizers more power but not enhanced driving dynamics.

  • avatar

    I think it’s the best-looking sedan in the midsized category, at this point (second place would go to the Fusion, and third to the Optima). And I just love the proportions; Mazda must have had to work really hard to give it that longish-looking hood while still preserving usable interior space…

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    I am looking at the ST and the
    Turbo Verano because both can
    be had loaded with a stick…Mazda
    are you listening?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Why people will buy it:
    - fuel efficiency

    Why people will not buy it:
    - packaging. Specifically – 19 inch wheels, leatherette, no Bluetooth on MT cars.
    19″ wheels – shopper will think how much money new tires cost
    leatherette – this is not Europe. We want a good cloth
    I want only MT car. Well, my Mazda 3 has MT and Bluetooth. Why Mazda6 tries to deprive me of that? I’ll buy the “3″ again, if anything.

    • 0 avatar
      bziko98

      One thing enthusiasts always complain is how production cars are watered down compared to concepts. Mazda comes thru and offers the same big wheels that we saw on the Takari, but now everyone is unhappy because 19” tires will be expensive…

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        the base sport model has cloth, not leatherette, and 17″ wheels. the only main reason to complain is the lack of BT. I can’t get over how big wheels and tires have gotten. I remember being in awe of the 16″ sport package wheels on my dads e36 BMW. that a subcompact like a Sonic now is expected to have 17′s and a family sedan like a 6 comes with 19s is ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @tjh8402, heck that new Cadillac volt coupe comes with 20s standard on a car that is the same basic length as a Cruze! That is too much wheel!

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      This is exactly what I said, you can’t get a “6″ with cloth, 17″ wheels (better yet 16″), MT and BT. If you go up, where you can finally get BT, you get leatherette, 19″ wheels, no MT….. Forget about.
      I believe, this is going to sell better then 2013 but lot of people will turn away because of packaging. I didn’t buy Altima because it didn’t have folding mirrors, for example, on S trim.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Very nice looking car but having 2 Mazda’s in the family and dealing with their dealer network i will not buy anymore Mazda’s. Both our cars were poorly built and everything attached to the engine & transmission were cheap. I will admit the engine was great and the transmissions held up but when you have to rebuild the front wheel brake cylinders at 20,000 thousand miles and the dealer wants $75.00 for a rebuilding kit that was worth about $5.00 (3 rubber parts) i gave up. If it was just one of the cars what the hell but both cars! Nest was the radiators at 37,000 miles. Dealer tells me not under warranty. Purchase a new radiator on ebay for $35.00 to sell the car and it turns out to be the same manufacturer as the original radiator.
    I wish Mazda the best of luck but i would not buy their cars if they gave time to me. Just my 2 cents.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I wouldn’t be surprised if either the 2015 or later build 2014s end up offering stick shifts in the higher trim levels. On the 2012 3, the stick shift was not available on the skyactiv grand touring model, only the touring. Similar to Ford now offering a stick on the Titanium Focus, Mazda has changed this for 2013, and you can now get a Grand Touring Skyactiv 3 with a stick.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    If they want to go after Mazda 3 buyers, then they better offer a hatchback or, even better, a wagon. As modern trunk lids on sedans are useless when it comes for utility. For comparison look at mid-size sedan of 10-15 years ago.

    Second point being, last I’ve checked, insurance for a vehicle with larger engine is less expensive (i.e. Fusion V6 vs Fusion I4 or Mustang GT vs. Mustang V6) in the province of Ontario. Don’t ask me why, especially with our gas price around $5/gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Wacky. Maybe the smaller-engined versions tend to be owned by younger drivers, or simply poorer, less responsible owners, either of which would tend to crash more frequently.

      It’s not that way in Saskatchewan though. Here, the annual cost for insuring a 2012 model of the aforementioned cars is:

      Fusion I4: $1147
      Fusion V6: $1223
      Mustang V6: $1357
      Mustang GT: $1399
      Mustang Boss 302: $1444

      That’s the price for any new driver. You can get up to a 20% discount with a good ten-year driving record. I finally recovered from the poor decisions of my youth to get my discount up to the full 20% this year for the first time!

  • avatar
    Spanish Inquisition

    Guys.

    Guys.

    If the Mazda 6 looks this good, how awesome will the 3 look? Also, I hope the new Mazdaspeeds will have the original’s understated, near stock look. Sleeper ftw.

  • avatar
    davejay

    As of fifteen minutes ago, the web site has contradictory information about the 2014 Mazda6. Specifically, the Mazda6 Features section says the manual transmission is available on the Sport AND Touring models…but the Build Your Mazda tool only allows selection of an automatic on the Touring.

    Since I (like many of you) want a manual AND bluetooth — which is only available on Touring and Grand Touring — I called the Mazda customer support line (not a dealership) to find out the answer. The person I spoke with couldn’t get their internet working, so looked up the information in their printed catalog.

    The response: you CAN get a Touring with the manual transmission. Which means you can get a stick and bluetooth (even though you’ll have to suffer the leatherette.)

    This might be worth further investigation, yes?

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Mazda’s don’t offer the same driving dynamics of a BMW or Audi. Sorry but no.. You can’t fix physics – no amount of tuning will make a Mazda 6 feel like a BMW 5 series or even an Audi A6 with the 40/60 torque split.

    The peole who buy the more expensive cars are getting a better feeling and usually more dynamic car. The ‘fix’ for the torque steer that is a huge part of the FWD experience ruins steering feel. This is quite easily felt. Mazda and VW do fairly well with this (often incorporating low torque engines)..

    But at the end of the day they are still FWD – and not much different from a Honda or Nissan with different shocks/dampers..

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I’d like to hear more about this ‘fix’ for torque steer that ruins steering feel, because the FWD Mazdas I’ve driven have excellent steering feel. Like any FWD they’re no fun when exiting corners under power, but that’s not an issue of steering feel. You can still feel exactly what the tires are doing even if you are power-understeering wide of your apex. Under trail-braking, steady-state cornering, and turn-in, FWD Mazdas such as the Mazda3, MX-6, and MX-3 communicate just fine.

      I’m no FWD fanboi either. FWD is simply an economical compromise for RWD in summer and for AWD in winter. Its only redeeming qualities – stability, efficiency, cost, and packaging – are unrelated to performance and driving pleasure.

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        There are lots of things they can do..but they all have unpleasant side effects. Ford is doing something called electronic steering torque compensation. You need steer by wire for this – the downside is that steering feel isn’t as good. Ford Focus ST is a good car to test this out in.. Is there some fun in a Focus ST? Yes. Does it compare with a properly balanced 3 series. No.

        Again you can’t beat physics. Low powered cars can do okay with FWD. But as soon as you start ramping up torque (even the torquey 4s in BMWs) your feel starts to go out the window.

        This is why those ‘very fast’ Camry with the V-6s that everyone loves drive like crap. Its alot of torque in a FWD vehicle. It does not work well.

        Mazda knows this – hence the Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I see; you’re saying that attempts by certain manufacturers other than Mazda to reduce torque steer have also reduced steering feel. I thought you were speaking more generally with that statement.

        “This is why those ‘very fast’ Camry with the V-6s that everyone loves drive like crap. Its alot of torque in a FWD vehicle. It does not work well.”

        Maybe everyone who has no interest in directional changes! You can’t compare a wallowy Camry to a Mazda though. The design philosophies between Mazda and Toyota are even greater than those between BMW and Mercedes.

        What I’m getting is that you don’t like the feel of torque steer, and that’s fine. I don’t think FWD goes well with anything more torquey than a large unboosted 4-banger. Even my 2.3L Mazda will rip the wheel right out of your hands on a 1-2 clutch drop if you haven’t completely straightened it out yet. But it doesn’t mean that it won’t beat a lot of RWD cars through the corners and provide more feedback while doing it.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      I agree with RPN. I haven’t driven a 2014 6, but I have driven a lot of 3′s and 6′s of the previous two generations, and while they do suffer from many FWD handling drawbacks, bad steering feel isn’t one of them. It’s not like the EPS in new German cars is getting accolades for steering feel either. This was my point earlier though about potential conquest buys from the Germans.

      No, a FWD Mazda will not deliver the same ride and handling magic mix of the Germans. But, as the Germans continue to get worse and worse, someone like me who currently has an older BMW and is disgruntled over the direction the new ones have gone may in the future say why bother paying the extra cost to own a European car if the driving experience isn’t as special as it was before. I can buy a 2014 6 and an e46 M3 for the price of an F30.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Meh. BWM is getting some blowback for their steering not being as good as before. Its still much better then a FWD – same with the Audi. You can’t seperate steering feel from the drivetrain configuration unless you never step on the gas with the wheel anything but perfectly straight..

    If you want cars that cost less then a BMW but deliver similiar handling ablities you need to think like G37, Challengers,etc. People comparing these low torque FWD eco machines are kidding themselves..

    The difference between a Honda Accord and a Mazda 6 is way smaller then the difference between a BMW and a Mazda. And that’s because of the drivetrain configuration. They just are not comparable.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      This is probably more of a semantic argument than anything. I’m going to mentally replace “steering feel” in your posts with “chassis feel” and for the most part agree with you.

      But if the choice came down to a near neutral FWD chassis with a well-sorted suspension compared to an overly soft and understeery RWD chassis, I’d take the FWD car regardless of power output.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        exactly RPN. All other things being equal, yes RWD is clearly superior to FWD. But its not an automatic. I don’t think anyone rightly claim that a 70′s Lincoln outhandles a brand new Mazda.

        @CelticPete- Again, I’ve never driven a 2014 Mazda 6, so I can’t judge that. I have driven the last two generations of Honda Accords, the previous generation Civic, the last two generations of Mazda 6, the last two generations of Mazda 3s, and I own an e46 BMW. And I think you’re wrong. I will say that with the exception of the previous generation of 6, the difference between the Hondas and the Mazdas was bigger than the difference between the Mazdas and my BMW, as well as all the other I test drove when shopping. I’d also say more of that difference was attributable to difference between the 4 cylinders in the Mazdas vs the 6 in the BMW than FWD vs RWD.

        No, FWD is never gonna be as good as RWD, but a FWD car can still be fun to drive, and Mazda makes some damn fine FWD cars and BMW is making some progressively shittier RWD cars. Are the Mazdas as nice? no. But the difference is getting smaller and harder to justify in light of the cost difference. Also, the idea of a 4 cylinder in a BMW 3 series or a Cadillac ATS bothers me way more than FWD in the Mazda. Infiniti has taken themselves out of consideration by dropping the stick shift option from the Q50.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      TTAC’s High Performance Editor, J. Baruth makes a case for FWD:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/avoidable-contact-color-my-world-the-case-for-front-wheel-drive/

      FWD has only gotten better, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

      That said, I like Mazda’s innovations and the direction they’re going. They’ve always made affordable fun, and now they are adding a bit of class and style.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Sorry but I didn’t find that article very convincing. I will say it was a personal surprise to me – but when I started driving more RWD cars I found them to be far more satisfying.

    That’s just my experience. The FWD is great people are hung up on the idea that most people aren’t good enough to maximize RWD on the street. That’s absolutely true. But RWD FEELS better.

    It FEELS better because humans enjoy the experience of being in RWD car. People buy FWD because its cheaper – or its roomier. Honest to god I was a front wheel drive guy most of my life. I thought RWD was stupid – and they always got stuck in the snow.

    But I grew up..and learned that I was wrong. And Baruth is wrong to push such drivel on the masses. Simple physics allows RWD cars to be dynamically superior. Try pulling a shopping cart the next time you go shopping…. See how superior that is..

    You don’t have to be good driver to enjoy RWD more and you don’t have to be a able to out shift an auto to like manual trannies.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >>Try pulling a shopping cart the next time you go shopping…. See how superior that is..

      :)

      Try hitching your horses to the back of the carriage and see how well that works for you.

      Kidding aside, I absolutely understand that RWD can be more enjoyable that FWD. Just saying FWD has improved to the point where driving one, while not quite as fun as RWD, can still be quite engaging. And when faced with real world hazards brought on by snow, rain, and darkness, FWD will do a better job of saving my bacon.

      And about manuals, I agree. The point isn’t to outperform auto trannies; it’s just fun to rev match a down shift. Also, manuals let you decide when you want to drive enthusiastically or economically. And manuals give you more options when dealing with snow and rain. But advanced techniques such as heel toeing? For the most part, that’s best left to the track. Similarly, that’s where the real benefits of RWD show up… according to JB’s article.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Drivel? I think it’s a fantastic piece of automotive journalism. Front heavy and FWD is simply more stable. Ideally, I’d be driving a RWD vehicle in the summer and fully mechanical AWD/4WD in the winter – all with manual transmissions and without any electronic interference – and I’d have a little bit of oversteer coming off almost every on-ramp and out of every corner where there isn’t someone in front holding me up. I feel sad for any teenage male that doesn’t experience their formative first few driving years operating an underpowered nanny-free RWD vehicle on snow and ice. But despite plenty of experience and enjoyment owning and driving RWD vehicles both on and off track I’d still take a FWD daily driver for winter use over RWD. Why?

      Here in Saskatchewan, I drive on icy/snowy roads every single day for about four months straight every year. The highways are also often icy, and that’s where my car gets most of its miles put on it. Even without studded winter tires (rental car?), I could drive on our mostly-straight ice-covered highways in a FWD car with the cruise control turned on for hours in a state of complete relaxation, even with the highway covered in a sheet of ice an inch thick. In that situation, the drive wheels might be losing traction every few seconds and you can feel it both through the steering wheel and your internal g-force meter every time it happens, but it doesn’t matter because the only possible outcome of that loss of traction is that the car will continue in a straight line with no chassis rotation. I’ve driven tens of thousands of miles in that state and passed many, many trains of slow-moving vehicles in the process. You just can’t do that in a RWD vehicle. You’d have to be ready to countersteer at any moment and confident that you can always correct faster than the back end can get loose, or have a heck of a lot of faith in a stability and traction control system. It’s basically impossible for a competent driver to lose control of a front-heavy FWD street car at anywhere near North American speed limits, and that’s absolutely perfect for those who never drive to the limit, never intentionally induce instability, and have no concept of driving dynamics. I’d never encourage my mother, sister, or girlfriend to purchase a RWD vehicle, even though all have plenty of experience driving them nowhere near the limit, because none would ever drive a new-to-them vehicle across the city and then be able to tell you which wheels were the drive wheels on a surprise post-drive quiz.

      Here’s another Baruth article you might appreciate more, containing the following paragraph that basically says the same thing in a different way. To me, Baruth “gets it” when it comes to every aspect of the joys of full car control both on and off the street, even if he can appreciate a stable vehicle that allows him complete relaxation on a highway cruise.

      “Most importantly, the little [FT-86] coupe is properly balanced and it has “proper” rear-wheel drive. If you learn to drive it well, you will eventually be qualified to drive something similar that operates at a higher speed, like an E92 M3. You won’t learn those correct reflexes and responses in a Civic Si or Volkswagen GTI. Those only “qualify” you to drive more powerful FWD cars, like… um… a Lucerne Super or something like that. Congratulations. You’re Lucerne Super Qualified. Now move over, you are holding my Town Car up on this off-ramp.”

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/ft-86-will-it-blend-i-mean-doooorift/

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I saw the new 6 at the Chicago Auto Show and I was impressed. For $25k it’s a very nice car. The interior design is way beyond what you’ll find in the Camry and IMO the Accord. The center console looks like it could be off a BMW. On the outside, it’s a little reminiscent of the RX8 with the large nose and front spoiler lip. I looked at the Fusion too and it looks nice on the outside, but it is more expensive and I didn’t like its new corporate interior as much.

    If I was in the market for a $25k family sedan, this would be at the top of my list. Let’s hope it drives as good as it looks.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    It’s the best of a breed but I question whether people actually need or want ‘family’ sedans. If you are family you want a wagon, big hatch or SUV for the utility. If you want something sporty you want actual RWD. If you want something old school you want a big RWD/AWD cruiser.
    If you want something sporty in Canada you want well what Baruth had – and S5.

    (BTW Baruth is off his rocker – the RWD Challenger is WAY more stable then the 2012 Altima – I say this having just rented both for several weeks). FWD does not have dynamic advantages. The car NOT turning when you turn the wheel is NOT an advantage. Thats not stability thats understeer and it’s not fun or ‘safe’.

    Anyway call me crazy but midsize FWD car segement just feels dead. They are all basically the same vehicle. Strut front/EPAS steering/multi-link rear. The Mazda’s tuned a little nicer but its all one big vanilla compromise.

    As the article points out this is Mazda issue. This is the problem. Its like creating a Breyers vanilla ice-cream with more kick. Most of the parents feed their kids frozen yogurt from Pinkberry. And the rest of the people – they order Chocolate from Emack and Bollios.

  • avatar
    wifeybabes

    I own a 2014 Mazda 6 IGT. This car is far different from the older versions. I have been dreaming of owning one for quite sometime. I know someone who had a Mazda 3 and in the five years she owned it she beat it in ways that no car should be beat. To make a point she only spent 2500.00 in maintenance this included oil changes. I was impressed. I received my car a short while ago and it has exceeded all of my expectation and has proven itself with both luxury and sportiness. the car is what i call the beauty and a beast it looks fantastic going down the road, but when you want it to it just takes off (ZOOM ZOOM) like a bat out of hell. I have looked into other cars and according to owners Mazda is a top runner for reliability, now I am saying luxury and the sportiness that people look for. Take one for a test drive just know that the Mazda 6 sport is not what you will get from the IGT. I commented here because I feel that this car needs to be given more credit than it has. One last thing the car has a sweet spot where you can actually get about 50 miles per-gallon which to me is something that I would like to know if the competitors can say that about their car. (that is looking at 600miles to a tank or more if you can find the sweet spot) just think about it while you pump your gas.

  • avatar
    autoguy

    This car has the Accord Sport beat in every way other than perhaps the information screen function and size. Hands down the Mazda’s styling makes the Accord the “wallflower at the party” and it has a practical benefit of giving I suspect a class leading cd of .26 (the Accord sedan’s have yet to be released as I suspect Honda knows it will not be able to beat the Mazda). The Mazda easily outhandles the Accord and its suspension is also better on rough pavement (I test drove both and I found the Accords suspension to be noisy and harsh on rough pavement). The Mazda also has a 60/40 split rear folding seat with a much larger rectangular opening than the Accord which for absolutely no good reason has a one piece rear seat with a smaller opening which is narrower at the top than on the bottom. The Accord also has exposed trunk hinges (which could damage items) wheresas the Mazda’s hinges slide into housing thereby avoiding any contact with items in the trunk. The Mazda’s 6 speed automatic is also better than the Accord’s CVT and the Mazda has a 38 mpg highway as compared to the Accrod’s 36 mpg. I can’t wait to test drive the Mazda 6 with the turbo diesel (this should help increase the Mazda 6 market share as this is an engine that Honda does not even offer in the U.S.).

  • avatar
    Rolland Rahr

    What a looker! The new 6 is stunning inside and out. The driving is exceptional as well. I drove a Touring with automatic and it came close to my 03 A6 in overall comfort and handling. It seemed a wee light on the power, but I’d be willing to make that trade I think. Why haven’t I ordered it yet? Mazda is playing the same game as Honda and some others with respect to marketing. I want a manual trans, leather or vinyl interior, power seat with lumbar, sunroof. I also want a color I’ll find interesting years from now. Drive through any parking lot and count with your fingers the number of cars that aren’t some variant of silver, gray, black or white. You can still write with the number of fingers remaining. I can’t figure how we, as a buying public, became so willing to accept such a boring, unimaginative color pallet from manufacturers. The new Accord with manual can only be had in silver or gray! Then there are the interior colors – even more boring. I know it’s all a matter of cost and streamlining production, but I’m amazed more people don’t seem to care about it. Colors, both in and out, set the stage for how you feel when you drive.

    I’m out looking at used cars now because I can’t get the 6 with the features that matter to me. What I don’t get is that Mazda is clearly going after customers looking for an alternative to blah styling and uninspired driving experiences. I’d think color would be a part of non-mainstream demographics.

    I am thrilled to see the giant leap forward this car represents. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if the impediments to my buying one are addressed. I’ll write the check then.


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