By on February 1, 2013

TTAC readers, this is the one you’ve been waiting for; a fun-to-drive, lightweight, stick-shift sports sedan that doesn’t require a home equity loan to purchase. Now, the question is, will anyone buy it?

A year ago, Jack Baruth had the opportunity to take a Mazda CX-5 around Laguna Seca, and was effusive in his praise. “Heresy!”, I thought. “How can a crossover be better than a wagon?” Turns out Jack was right. The higher seating position and raised ground clearance had no negative effects. The CX-5 may have been a bit pokey in a straight line, but it was a joy to drive. It was better than most station wagons. And the good news is that Mazda has repeated the magic yet again.

The Mazda6 you see above shares a platform with the CX-5, as will all front-drive Mazda products larger than the Mazda2. The new platform is all-new, all-Mazda and uses “Skyactiv” technology, which is a way to make cars lighter, and therefore, more efficient and fun-to-drive (if you buy their marketing spin). At 3172 lbs, this car is light – a fully loaded Chevrolet Cruze weighs about 17 lbs less despite being a full size smaller.

The light weight pays dividends as far as efficiency goes – 26/38 mpg city/highway is possible if you drive accordingly. The downside is that the 2.5L 4-cylinder engine is not all that thrilling. With 184 horsepower at a fairly high 5,750 rpm and 185 lb-ft at 3,250 rpm, the Mazda6 is hardly a paragon of speed. There’s lots of noise, but not nearly as much movement, similar to the BP motors in early Miatas. It wouldn’t be fair to call it painfully slow, but given how great the rest of the package is, the underwhelming engine is a sore spot. For those looking for more grunt, there is no V6 and no boosted four-banger like in the Hyundai Sonata or Ford Fusion. Instead, the enthusiast gods have given us a diesel version, but it won’t be available until the summer.

In typical Mazda fashion, the ho-hum motor is redeemed by a superb chassis. Just as the Mazda3 is the class benchmark for a fun-to-drive compact, so is the Mazda6 in the mid-size category. The electric power steering should be a benchmark for all others; it’s crisp, well-weighted and provides excellent feedback. There is very little body roll, and just like in the CX-5, the damping is spot on.  The 6-speed manual gearbox is the same one employed in the Mazda3 and CX-5. The firm, short-throw shifter is still here, though the clutch is a bit light and devoid of feel. In truth, I think the 6-speed automatic, which uses a hybrid torque converter and clutch pack system to mimic a dual-clutch, is actually better matched to the powertrain.

The auto ‘box itself is a work of art, which a barely perceptible 1-2 shift, zero “slop” when putting the power down and never hunts for gears when ascending a grade. While I’d personally pick the manual for personal enjoyment and snob appeal, you miss nothing by opting for the automatic, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. The one question mark here is the brakes. There wasn’t enough of an opportunity to give them a proper workout. Jack found that after a hard session of driving, they were spent, but rain and a general lack of exciting roads conspired to keep me from testing them to the fullest extent of the law. A major sore point with the car was road noise – the levels of wind noise coming through the A-pillar were far below the standard one should expect from a first-tier mid-size sedan, and suggests some corner cutting on the part of Mazda.

The first half of the day was spent in the manual Sport model, which is the bare-bones base trim. Car enthusiast will appreciate the clean, simple interior, devoid of screens of infotainment doo-dads. The materials used aren’t exactly “premium”, but it feels like a solid step up from the previous generation of Mazdas, specifically the Mazda3. It looks durable and well made, if nothing else, but it won’t wow you like an Accord or a Fusion will. If you’ve seen the CX-5 cabin, you know what to expect. Those hankering after a 6MT Sport, be warned, it truly is a no-frills proposition. Bluetooth connectivity, a prerequisite for many people, requires a step up to the Sport automatic model. Presumably, this was done to cut costs on the price leader version, but Bluetooth is much more useful to those who drive manual. Strangely enough, Canadian 6MT Sports will get Bluetooth (and pay a bit more), but that may be due to our take-rate being higher than the 10 percent Mazda expects).

Lacking any of the volume Touring trim levels, the only alternative to the Sport was a loaded Grand Touring, where one could experience the excellent automatic transmission) and the infuriating TomTom-based navigation, which has now stolen the “Worst Infotainment System Foisted Upon Us By Satan” award from the now-improved MyFordTouch. The iPod and music interface is middling at best, with its slow response times and early-90′s Sega Saturn-esque menus. The navigation is so abominable that there is a verse in Leviticus forbidding the public from ordering it. In a $30,290 car, this is unacceptable. Bring your Garmin and a suction cup mount. Do not let any dealer pawn this off on you.

Despite the awful navigation system and the slightly underpowered base engine, it’s hard not to be taken with the Mazda6. Mazda’s final deadly sin – the heinous styling that plagued otherwise great cars like the Mazda3, is gone. The new Mazda6 is a looker, with its dramatic profile and aggressive front end. Better yet, there aren’t even any packaging compromises – Mazda managed to incorporate the Mercedes CLS-esque sloping roofline, but still leave enough headroom for a six-foot adult male. It is without question the driver’s choice in the segment, to the point where it puts on a clinic for the rest of the segment as far as driving dynamics are concerned. Now that the driving experience and the visual impact of the car are finally congruent, Mazda may even be able to lay claim to the title of “Japan’s Alfa Romeo”. Squint really hard and this car could conceivably be the replacement for the Alfa 159, minus the soulful powertrains and legendary Italian reliability.

And yet I’m worried that it’s all going to end in a giant fuck-up. On a macro level, good cars, especially ones beloved by auto journalists, are prone to dying premature deaths, languishing in obscurity. The mid-size segment is the most competitive in America, with three of the top 10 best-selling cars alone. Aside from the Camry, Accord and Altima, there is the Fusion, the Sonata and the Optima, all laudable in their own right and all are more attuned with the kind of boring appliance-like transportation that the average buyer wants.

Furthermore, not only does Mazda not have the marketing budget to get the word out about this car, but the launch has been a bizarre series of mis-steps. First, Mazda put display-only units of the car in their showrooms, ostensibly due to a missed launch date. Punters could look at the cars, but not test drive or buy them. The diesel powertrain and the i-Eloop regenerative braking system aren’t available at launch either, and to top it off, Mazda USA’s website doesn’t even have a configuration tool to help customers spec out a Mazda6.

Although I am normally agnostic with respect to car companies, I really want Mazda to succeed. If Lotus or Morgan or one of the speciality car makers went under, I’d shrug my shoulders and get back to living my life. Mazda would be a real blow. These are cars that put a smile on my face without forcing me to eat beans every night so I can keep up with the payments (or running costs). I have owned two of them and came close to buying a Mazda3 Skyactiv last year. I’m really glad I didn’t, because now I have two other options (the CX-5 and the Mazda6 Sport) to choose from, should I want a new daily driver. I like their relentless quest for innovation despite having limited resources, their willingness to eschew hybrids and other green-flavor-of-the-month technology in favor of old-school weight reduction and their courage in creating the kind of nimble, featherweight and visually exciting cars that exist in our minds, the scrapyards or outside our budgets. The odds are stacked heavily against them. But that won’t stop me from cheering for my favorite team.

Mazda provided the car, insurance, a tank of gas, travel and accomodations. Thanks to commenters redav, mike978 and PCH101 for the insights that helped inform this review

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

156 Comments on “First Drive Review: 2014 Mazda6...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The lack of V6 is appalling BUT I’m quite impressed Mazda has plans for a diesel in its place.

    • 0 avatar
      rwb

      I would be very surprised if they are not planning a Mazdaspeed version of this car. Given more power, a stick and AWD, this becomes the perfect Northeast car.

      As long as they’ve figured out the rust thing.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        There are reports that they are seriously considering a coupe and a MazdaSpeed verison. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think they might be the same thing. However, I prefer the fantasy that the MazdaSpeed version will be the wagon since the groups that want each of those overlap so much. They would have to do just as much testing/certifying whichever platform is used, so using the wagon would be just as cheap as the sedan.

        If they did this, not only would they appease the fanbois, it wouldn’t have to be sales leader because none of the MazdaSpeed cars are expected to be.

    • 0 avatar
      GT3 for all

      I have an ’06 Speed6(allwheeldrive) since new, a WONDERFUL car, I have had ZERO problems, yes, it is a turbo 4, I put snows all around on it, it weighs 3,500 lbs. I would buy a Mazda again no question.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    i actually configured 2 mazda6s on the mazdausa website this morning. must have been a change btwn when the piece was written and today. i was annoyed that the 6mt was available only on the bare bones sport trim level.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      You are right. They must have updated later today (I had checked this morning) in response to the broken embargo – not TTAC but on Autoguide the review author said the embargo had been broken yesterday by another site.
      Glad it is up now but agree the MT is only on the base model. There was confusion on this on the online forums.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I think (hope) Mazda’s configuration tool for the new 6 is still a work in progress. If you hover over Mazda6 on the main page there is a lot of missing information. Once in to the configuration tool, there are inconsistencies with the specs published on Mazda’s site.

        The configuration tool doesn’t list all the standard features shown on the spec sheet. In addition, the spec sheet implies the 6MT is available on Touring trims. I’ll bet the 6MT is limited to the sport trim, but the spec sheet offers a small ray of hope.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I am sure the configurator is a work in progress because I emailed Mazda yesterday asking when it would be up (their email system was not working for 3 days earlier this week!) and they said it would be up in a few days. Obviously they were aiming for Monday when the embargo was to be lifted. Since that got broken 4 days early they rushed the configurator out.

        I saw on the spec sheet about the Touring model having the MT, but I wouldn`t be surprised, ala CX5, if it is just the base model.

      • 0 avatar
        ezeolla

        I have read on another website that the manual transmission in the touring is not going to be available until later in the year. This could explain them leaving it off the cofigurator

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I heard a similar rumor. Specifically, MT on Touring would be march production, so we wouldn’t see it until maybe May?

        Just a rumor at this point, but other sites that have their reviews up are claiming the MT will be available on the Touring trim. Hopefully one of them has an informed connection at Mazda and isn’t re-blogging.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        That makes sense, but they really should have made this the 2013 and have a 9 month model year. Then in September add the diesel, add manual transmission to the touring and any other detailed tweaks.
        But instead they have an 18 to 21 month model year and a large supply of outdated 2013 Mazda 6′s to sell with $5K off.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    How does the rear seat leg room compare to an Accord? Most mid sizers don’t have enough leg room in the back seat for even average sized adults. Accords seem like limos there compared to most others.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m 5’10 and I sat behind “myself” (i.e driving position) in the rear seat. No issues. The rear seat backs are scooped out for extra knee room. Lots of space underneath the seat to put your feet. Not Accord quality, but sufficient.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        The Accord has a huge backseat, one of the reasons we got one…it’s not so much about room for an adult, it’s about room for a huge carseat!

        The 6 is a good looking car, much better than the Fusion (after finally seeing it on the road). I briefly had a 2006 3 GT wagon, and it was a lemon. Not sure who to attribute that too, but I will say my neighbor’s CX-5 is quite a nice little package.

      • 0 avatar
        FordMan_48126

        Derek – when did you visit the Mazada USA site? They now have 2014 6 available now on website configurator; see this link:

        http://www.mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/configEntryPoint.action?vehicleCode=M6G&modelYear=2014&skipZip=0&zip=48170

        Pricing looks spot on for competition witrh Fusion, Accord, Camary, et all…

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “it’s not so much about room for an adult, it’s about room for a huge carseat!”

        The way most automakers sculpt seats for knees actually makes them worse for rear-facing car seats. You could easily push the front seat back another inch or so if the top of the rear of the front seat had some space cut out to accommodate a rear-facing car seat. That would make a HUGE difference to many people.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Agreed Chicago Dude. When we looked for our beigemobile, I took a tape measure. The existing Fusion was decent, the Accord was best. Now we have the kiddo flipped around but it still matters, because he keeps his shoes off the back of the seat.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    The six-banger take rate on several of the other sedans is about equal to the manual-tranny take rate – sub-10%.

    If you can ditch some weight by drawing up the car’s front end around only having four-cylinder engines, and you’ve got a muscular diesel on the way, why not do it? The only thing a 250+ hp gas engine brings to the table over a 180-hp diesel is acceleration above 125 MPH.

    If I’m wrong, then Holset or Garrett can fix the power issue for Mazda pretty quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Well I think it depends on where that statistic comes from, if you say all sedans, all brands all segments, mayybee that’s accurate.

      I can’t speak for 2012/2013, but in the 2008-10 timeframe when most of the people I know last bought new, in C/D segment sedans all but one opted for the I6 or V6 when available (Impala, Grand Prix, G8, 2 Accords, 330xi… my friend’s 09 Camry was the sole conscious choice of 4-cyl). Granted in the W-body/G8 cases there is no lesser option, but I can say two of those three buyers will pay extra the 6 over a 4 every time. Forcing specious and trouble prone turbos on the buying public who don’t want them will result in losing those customers to other segments (truck/SUV) and/or the used market long term.

      In the case of Mazda, the diesel may be an excellent replacement I’ll be interested to test drive one.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        28CL – I had read somewhere that around 15% of Accord and Camry sales were V6. I would be interested to know how many 2.0L turbo Fusions are sold, I would suspect a small minority. So Mazda aimed at the core market with the I-4 – developing more power than VW or Toyota for example.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Also believe the growing trend, ala HyunKia, is to provide as many features as possible with Manual tranny and base engine as options, as God intended. This may be difficult for small makers like Mazda to do as they are trying to maximize their volumne. Unfortunately Mazda is the spinnaker of sporty Zoom-zoom, not the dull, flourescent lights of CamCord appliance world, and its customer base is looking for exactly a car that would have heated seats, leather, a decent sat-nav, and a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        @Mike978 — in part that’s because Honda and Toyota only make the V6 available on the highest trim levels. The Accord starts at $21,680, but the cheapest V6 is $30,070. Likewise, the base Camry is $22,680, and the cheapest V6 is $30,465.

        The last-gen Fusion had the V6 available under $23k, so the take rate was obviously a lot higher. The previous-gen Mazda6 was the same way, but by ’12 they’d adopted the Honda/Toyota model and only made it available on the Grand Touring.

        I have an ’05 Mazda6, and I’d really give the new one a serious look, but I’m not prepared to give up 50hp over what I’ve got today. And frankly, a lot of the stations around where I live (dense urban area) simply don’t carry diesel — enough that it would be a pain.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Derek – I share your fears about Mazda’s future and their under under-appreciated products. I had similar thoughts when the CX-5 was released: Here is another attempt at a sporty crossover – a product niche that nobody wants. It appears, however, that its a hit with the public so maybe there is hope that the new styling is doing the trick and that the new 6 will also finally sell in numbers.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Derek, many thanks for publishing this. A great review. Thanks for the acknowledgement – although there was no need.

    Mazda has built what “we” have asked for. I will see it at my local autoshow in 2 weeks and can`t wait. This may very well replace my Legacy this fall.

    Interesting what you said about the engine, I have read another review (autoguide) that also dings the engine and power. But the 6′s engine has more power and torque at lower revs carrying less weight than say the Camry. Same when compared to the Accord, except for 1bhp more in the Honda. But neither of those two cars have be dinged for being underpowered.

    The navigation systems are are a surprise and I hope they fix them because a Touring model with tech pack has a $27K MSRP and is pretty much fully loaded.

    I am sure a MazdaSpeed 6 or some higher powered gasoline model will come out in due course to meet that 15-20% of the market that want more than 200hp. Give them time, just like the CX5 now has solved the unpowered complaint with the 2.5L coming in for the 2014 model.

    I really want Mazda to survive because why buy a Camry, Altima or even an Accord when you get all those offer (fuel economy, space and reliability) but with driving fun.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    How do the back seats look for a rear-facing carseat? I have a 1 year old.

    Could I fit 2 back there & a small wife?

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Wish I had kept that GTI instead of getting a Taurus – I could have traded it on this new Mazda 6. Now, I’ve gone and spent 1K on tires, guess I’ll drive the big foad and live with regret.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Derek – two other questions.

    One review said the steering was heavier than “normal” because Mazda had engineered it so that the four wheels wanted to stay straight. And that some people may find it too heavy. I assume you didn`t?

    Also this article is not showing up under reviews on the sidebar for “latest reviews”. I don`t want it to be lost soon as more articles are published today.

  • avatar
    european

    derek,
    don’t be lazy and shoot more photographs.
    even your coverage of the detroit? auto show
    lacked photos. and make them bigger as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Bring a 5D Mark III, a selection of rigs and lenses and be willing to walk around all day behind me carrying the bag at NAIAS 2014, then we’ll talk.

      • 0 avatar
        mcarr

        Serious? I’ll sign up for this, and bring the gear you mentioned.

      • 0 avatar
        Alexdi

        Would a 5D II suffice? I’d do that. I already do that.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        Is TTAC covering the travel cost? I have free use of a 40D and am perfectly comfortable spending all day walking around carrying the camera, bag, and tripod/monopod. I do it several times a year at ALMS winter test, St Pete Indycar, 12 Hours of Sebring, vintage racing, etc.

        obligatory A** kissing – very well written article btw DK.

        My question on Mazda’s future is the issue of exchange rates. I know that they’ve had issues with the cars being made in Japan and having lower profit margins here. How well is that issue being resolved? I know a lot of people who have bought skyactive 3s…I count 3 close friends plus an ex who’ve all bought one and all 4 are in the heavily targeted by other companies under 30 age bracket. My 27 year old sister will likely be buying one in the next few weeks. They are quite common on the roads here in Central Florida, and we have a pretty substantial under 30 population here thanks both to the Mouse and the many post secondary schools in this area.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I sat in one at the local auto show, seemed like a nice place to be. Hopefully they’ll offer the diesel in the next 3.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    The “stripper” sport model list of standard equipment is what I consider fully loaded. It has everything I would want in a car and then some. Seems like a bargain with the 6 speed manual, which is a must. I have a current 3 and would love to upgrade to one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Thank God the base Sport manual has a full color palette. For the CX5 they only offered 3 colors and not the lovely blue and red. So that issue has been fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I tend to agree. The base is quite nice and would be an improvement for me in every way except rear visibility (unless I opted for the back up camera). For a bonus, I prefer some of the options on the Sport compared to the others, like the smaller wheels.

      Also, several recent sources have said that the mid trim level will also get the manual transmission, countering reports from a month ago that denied it.

      But the leatheresque seats on the Touring dramatically increase the feel of luxury, so much so it doesn’t feel like the same car inside.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Derek, I also have two questions.
    1) My first gen 6 has the turning radius of a battleship, how`s this one?
    2) NVH, mine has a ton of road noise and early reviews of the 2014 from Europe said there was a lot of wind noise and whistling. Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank You! I apologize for that egregious oversight, especially since it’s in my notes right next to me. Lots of wind noise through the a-pillar. I was not impressed. Turning radius was very good actually.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That sort of ruins it, and takes it down a peg or two in my book, if it drives well but is loud and windy inside!

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Agreed that lots of wind noise is a big demerit. I can let it go in C-segment cars that are probably used more in city and suburban environments, but one reason to step up to a car the size of the 6 is more comfortable long-distance cruising.

        If it’s just the A-pillars, I wonder how difficult it would be to add aftermarket sound deadening.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Wind noise can be fixed with some tape foam from the hardware store. General road noise and tire rumble is a bit more demanding: a weekend pulling seats and carpet to install dynamat or the like.

    • 0 avatar
      StaysCrunchy

      Maybe I’m just a cheap date, but I have a 2010 Mazda 6 that me and the wife take on road trips fairly regularly and overall I’m satisfied with the NVH levels. It’s no Cadillac, but it’s still not too bad in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Yeah. Mazda has some serious issues with wind and road noise. I rented a Mazda 6 last year, and the tire noise was just unbelievable. The CX-5 was somewhat better (but I didn’t get enough seat time to say for sure). I remember there was a time when Honda also made some noisy cars- but they seemed to have licked that problem with its latest Accord.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    What’s the story on tire and wind noise, and general NVH? How fast is the engine spinning cruising around 120 km/h?

    Mazda’s have a reputation for being a little rough around the edges in the NVH department. When you have a sub 3200 lb mid-size sedan, it makes me wonder if they did it by tossing all the sound deadening material.

    Any quick thoughts on how Mazda’s 2.5 compares to Honda’s new 4-cylinder in the Accord? Certain publications publish preposterously fast times for the Accord 4-cylinder 6MT: I think 6.6s 0-60mph and a 15.1s 1/4 mile. I drove the CVT version briefly and while the car moved fairly effortlessly, those numbers are hard to believe.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    I saw one of these a couple weeks back. Not completely sold on the styling, yet.

    The dealership I was at had about 50 Mazdas lined up. 46 of them were all varying shades of cloud grey. There were a couple white ones, a couple blacks ones, and I believe one Miata which was red.

    How is the road noise and wind noise? How does the car handle uneven bumpy broken, tree root impacted pavement?

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    One of your best reviews, thank you.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Recently, we compared Mazda3 and Focus SE hatchbacks and bought the Focus. Although the materials in the Focus are better, the Mazda3′s interior is more spacious, the outward visibility is better and the instruments are easier to read. What sold us was the Focus suspension. Both cars handle well, but Ford has figured out how to accomplish this without sacrificing ride quality. I hope Mazda has, too, with the Mazda6 and with the next generation Mazda3.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      That was my big take away with the difference between the Focus and the 3, as well.

      The Mazda 3 rides way too bumpy. Oh, the 3 needs a torque boost too. Its probably fine for 30% of my driving, but I like to feel a little bit of oomph when I hit the gas pedal.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @ Kendahl and Dynasty,

        Having shopped and spent a lot of quality time in both cars, I agree. Even though they are the same price, the Focus felt like a much more expensive car in the way it went down the road and the way the interior sounded and felt. It road a lot smoother, with the 3 being a little stiff sometimes, but not uncomfortable, just not as nice as the Ford. The Mazda, however, had a puppy dog eagerness in the way it drove and asked you to take it out and play. The Ford was a perfectly willing dance partner, very good handing, very composed, very fun to drive, but it lacked the eagerness and friskiness of the Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      tbone33

      This was exactly my experience too, and is the reason I went with a Ford Focus SE this time. I also felt like the 3 just didn’t have any engine character. I like a car (or motorcycle) with a distinct powerband, and the 3 feels like it has a perfectly flat torque curve.

  • avatar

    Mazda is doing fantastically well here in Australia, seen several new 6s already. I assume we got them earlier.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’m very distracted by the fact that there are 4 trim segments along the back of the rear door. Dislike. I do kind of like how the wing grille trim echoes the Mazda shape.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I want Mazda to be my favorite car company but they keep making the infuriating decision to not offer a stick on anything but the base model. I get this when Toyota or Honda do it, their bread and butter is the average sedan buyer and everyone already is trying to compete with them. I sort of get it when Hyundai and Kia do it, because they simply do not know any better, and really have no sporting pretensions to live up to. But this is Mazda, and their entire marketing campaign is built around Zoom-Zoom, they support racing series, they build one of the best, most pure sports cars on the market, etc. There is no reason in the world for Mazda to not offer a manual trans option for every trim level in every model, even at additional cost. Maybe they will do better with the diesel model and redeem themselves, that could be a nice alternative to a TDI.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The good news is a base model is pretty well equipped these days. Bluetooth is a painful omission, but how hard can it really be to add that later?

      I agree that Mazdas always seem to have some painful weakness that conflicts with their zoom-zoom scheme. Here we have what sounds like a mostly excellent sport sedan with an underwhelming engine. I guess I must be part of a minority that still considers the engine important.

      • 0 avatar

        Sidenote: Canadian models get Bluetooth on the base 6MT.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Yea I agree, most of the time the base model is the one I prefer and adding BT isn’t that big of a deal to me. But for most buyers that is not the case. The stick is clearly there just to offer a super low advertised price.

        Bu regardless, I think that if Mazda wants to market themselves as the enthusiast’s choice then they need to step up and offer enthusiast options. I am not so worried about the engine, everyone said the engine in my Protege5 was weak and I didn’t care, it was still fun to drive. These days MPGs count for more than flat out performance, and 180hp is fine, as long as its fun.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Sidenote sidenote — I wonder if US buyers will be able to order the BT components from a Canadian dealer to add it themselves?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree, but if BT can be offered in Canada on the base model then why not here. They are doing this to have a low price point, but it will also be used to say “look very few are buying the MT base model, so lets get rid of the manual”, when their specification selection has helped drive customer selection.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        mnm4ever – I had a Protege ES sedan (same engine as P5) and that engine worked because of aggressive gearing. I think it was 4.1:1. Of course, that didn’t make it much of a highway cruiser.

        I don’t mean to sound like someone complaining about power based on specs. If the engine is smooth and sounds good while I beat on it, a little less power is fine.

        Matter of fact, I’m actually in the market for a weaker car than what I have now just so I can beat on it more!

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Good point @burgers, that did make the car fun, and also contributed to the not so great hwy mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Buzz Killington

      You can get the stick on the mid-level Touring trim.

      But I do agree that it would be nice to see it available across the range.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredotto

      YES. I find this maddening, to the point where I was moved to write the company about it. A little interwebz sleuthing and I found the email address of the VP of North American operations. Seemed like a good candidate– he seemed like a genuine car guy as he personally does racing, etc. So I wrote him and asked him why they persist in only offering manuals on the lamesauce base model.

      To his great credit, he replied with a thoughtful response– basically the take rate was so low that it didn’t make fiscal sense to develop unique parts (e.g. wiring harness) for higher trims with a manual. I’m sure that push comes from the bean counters and not the engineers in the company. And it makes sense on an economic level, but for a company like Mazda, I can’t help but think it only hurts them in the long term. Their biggest fans– the people who will spread the gospel by word of mouth– are the very same individuals who will buy a loaded model with a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I dont know if that is a thoughtful response, more of a BS response. Why would the wiring harness be different between the manual Touring and the manual Sport model? I am willing to bet that any of the missing “options” will simply bolt/plug right in. Leather seats? TomTom navi? BT? sunroof? The car’s safety features are the same, the wheels/tires/suspension doesn’t change the wiring. Just charge an extra grand for it and make it special order only, at least then you can pretend to really be a Zoom Zoom company.

        Any my usual response to beancounter answers is: perhaps the take rate wouldn’t be so low if they offered it on better equipped cars that people actually wanted.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        But they offer all three trim levels with a manual in Canada. I would assume the issue is more around inventory at dealers.
        But I agree they should offer it.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Not selling a product people don’t actuall buy won’t harm them at all in the long run.

        I’m sure their displeasure at all the internet fanbois who say they will buy manual wagons but don’t is just as great as the internet fanbois’ displeasure with the car companies.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @redav – I understand your point but I disagree simply because of how Mazda is attempting to market themselves compared to the competition. They want to attract enthusiast drivers and trade on their sports car and racing heritage, then they go out of their way to not offer enthusiast options on most of the product line. I will be the first to admit that they are not going to get rich off the enthusiasts and internet fanbois, but what they need to do is build on the fanbois to attract other buyers who want to be seen driving something sportier and more enthusiast oriented than the CamCords. As @mike978 pointed out, they already have the cars in Canada, I bet Europe gets everything in manual along with 3 additional engine choices, it isn’t as if they haven’t spent the development money, and the excuses they make for not even offering it in the US don’t add up.

      • 0 avatar
        Lampredotto

        @redav– Count me as one of the internet fanbois who actually bought a manual wagon (a Jetta). If Mazda had actually offered a 6 wagon or Acura a TSX wagon with a manual, I’d have jumped at the chance. I like to think I at least put my money where my mouth is. :)

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        mnm4ever, I don’t think your assessment of the role of enthusiasts is correct. I don’t believe they make *any* appreciable effect on what others buy. That’s because people who aren’t enthusiasts don’t want to look like internet enthusiasts–whom they view the same as Bronies. In the end, they are a lot like libertarians–nobody listens to Ron Paul supporters no matter how loud they are.

        But you do have a good point about what Mazda’s strategy is. I’ll have to think on it a while. I don’t think the 3 or the CX-5 or even the 6 is targeted to enthusiasts. They’re targeted to *normal people* who just might want to enjoy driving for a change. Maybe they have no idea what they’re doing, which is why they sell so few.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Not internet enthusiasts… for the most part they ARE bronies. I am talking about real enthusiasts, I probably used the wrong word in making my point, as the term “fanboi” equates to those tools who know nothing about cars but post constantly on lame forums like vwvortex.

        I just mean that Mazda should be trying to create good buzz for their products to go with the Zoom Zoom marketing, because the buzz brings in the buyers who don’t want a Camry. They might read reviews on TTAC and comments from people like us, they might know someone who autocrosses, whatever. I can think of at least 10 people in the last year who bought cars and ended up with something more fun than usual because of advice me or a couple other friends gave them. 2 were Mazdas too.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “I am willing to bet that any of the missing “options” will simply bolt/plug right in. Leather seats? TomTom navi? BT? sunroof?”

        Seats can make a difference. I’ll explain – in some cars (usually luxury ones, but it’s filtering down), when you turn the car off, the seat will move back and steering wheel will move up automatically to make it easier to get out. In manual transmissions, you don’t want this to happen automatically when the car stalls, so you have to program and wire it differently.

        Similarly, there are certain functions that act differently depending on whether the auto is in Park or in Drive — e.g. satnav may give a warning or, worse, not let you program it at all while in motion; seat memory buttons may act differently when in Park than Drive; etc. On a manual, the trigger for these functions is instead the parking brake, so again, different programming and wiring is required.

        Wiring harnesses include a crapload of wires for a variety of different functions, so this definitely means you might need a completely different wiring harness for the MT model. I don’t think you’re understanding the manufacturing process here if you think this is simple — there are a lot of interlocking systems on modern vehicles.

        Also, lots of enthusiasts are cheap and want a cheapo stripper model (as evidenced by this site where there are people who constantly ask for crank-windows). People who don’t have much money also often buy a manual stripper because it’s $1000 cheaper than an automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        If Mazda didn’t offer the stick on those models in other countries then I would buy your explanation. As it is though, no. If Mazda offers nav or power seats anywhere with a stick, then they can offer it here.

        And I never said they should NOT offer the base model, my main point is that for a company that prides itself on sporting intentions why do they try so hard to not offer mainstream cars that meet those intentions? And the entire point is moot since many other posters have said that the Touring model is also available with a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “If Mazda didn’t offer the stick on those models in other countries then I would buy your explanation. As it is though, no. If Mazda offers nav or power seats anywhere with a stick, then they can offer it here.”

        But you can’t pretend all countries are the same. In many countries, cars are made to order. Here they are generally not, so it’s “what can I do to get you in this car today?” As such, the manufacturer wants to optimize manufacturing to get cars on lots in commonly sold configurations.

        That’s why many Japanese cars back in the day only had trim-levels like EX, DX, LX, but very few standalone options. They were coming here on a boat to sit on lots, so it made sense to simplify. Even now, many of them have several “port-installed” options, as opposed to factory options.

        The Germans have traditionally been better about letting you get any option with any trim-level/engine, as you can do in Europe, although in recent years, even they’ve started simplifying a bit.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Ok so which is it? A manufacturing problem or a sales problem?

        I have no problem with them choosing the popular combination of options and offering specific trim levels. I get why they need to do that. But Mazda wants to be marketed as the car for enthusiast drivers, and they already make every trim level with a manual for other countries where the cars are otherwise identical. They can offer those same models here. Dealers do not have to order them and stock them, but there is no reason they cannot offer them and let me go to the dealer and put a deposit down and wait for it just like any other car that is not a popular combination.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “Dealers do not have to order them and stock them, but there is no reason they cannot offer them and let me go to the dealer and put a deposit down and wait for it just like any other car that is not a popular combination.”

        Have you asked if you can do that?

        It’s a combo of manufacturing and sales. I don’t know how I could have been more clear that it’s both. I’ve answered the questions you’ve asked — you just don’t like the answer.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        No, first you said that the reason they couldn’t offer the manual in higher trim levels is because it adds too much to the R&D and manufacturing costs. Which is BS since they already manufacture them for other countries. Then you said that the reason is because in those countries people custom order their cars so the dealers do not have to stock cars that do not sell very well, which is also BS since dealers in the US can order or not order whatever cars they want, which is why you find very few blue Sport manuals but tons of dark grey Grand Touring autos. Mazda, the manufacturer, doesn’t stock the cars, they can OFFER them without undue hardship since they already spend the R&D and manufacturing money. Now you say that it is both reasons combined.

        You are giving me the reasons why they do it, not the reasons why they can’t. I know they do it to save money, because it is always about money. My point is that Mazda should go the extra mile to back up their claim that they are the Zoom Zoom car company, even if it costs a bit more, to at least offer the manual option in all their cars.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Why are cars made to order in other countries, while the US is stuck with whatever trim levels the dealerships choose from?

        I can see it being expensive to custom build nearly every car, but why do it for other markets then? How is it that the US got stuck with the dealer stock issue?

        Sometimes it can be explained by the cost of federal regulations, but I don’t see how that could come into play when we are talking about equipment levels on cars with the same engine/transmission pair.

        Any reason why they can’t charge extra for the manual? At this point, I’m pretty sure the only holdouts want manual because they consider it fun. I can’t imagine charging for it would lower the take rate any further. I would rather have to pay than not have the option at all.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I think you’re misreading the thread so far. You said, “all these features of the car have nothing to do with the transmission. Saying it’s about wiring harnesses is BS. Also, the take rate is probably low because all those MT cars are strippers.”

        I replied, no, several of those features are affected by the transmission choice, so yes, it does affect wiring harnesses. Furthermore, a lot of the cheap enthusiasts want strippers, and people who are poor want strippers with MT because it’s cheaper.

        Then you said “well, they have it in other countries, so it’s not like that stuff isn’t available.”

        And I said that other countries are different in being made-to-order, and that US manufacturing requires a different strategy.

        To which you said, “is it manufacturing or sales?”

        And I said both.

        And then you said I was talking about R&D (which I never was), and that I was changing my explanation — which obviously I wasn’t — I just answered your questions. It’s very clear that you just don’t like the answer. The main thing you’ve said that’s pertinent is: “I know they do it to save money, because it is always about money.” That’s the answer.

        Of course, this is all academic, because you aren’t even going to buy one. If you were seriously considering, you would have already confirmed with a dealer whether you can special order a loaded car with MT. The fact that you’re trying to say something authoritative based on the website builder suggests no buying intent.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    After seeing several late mode Mazda3′s in my area with rotted out rear quarter panels I think I will pass on Mazda.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Derek – any additional thoughts on the engine? Smooth? Sound decent? Any notable exhaust note? Just another buzzy 4 that you wish was faster?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “The navigation is so abominable that there is a verse in Leviticus forbidding the public from ordering it.”

    Wonderful prose.

    Other than the convenience of built-in hardware, I’m not convinced that on-board navigation is worth the extra money when you can buy the latest Garmin for $150.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Nevermind Garmin, you can use the smartphone that so many people already have. Maybe I overestimate the smartphone market?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        That is why I am amazed Honda charge $2000 for the navigation system on the EX-L. At least for $2000 here you get the navigation (on a smaller screen), a host of auto features (wipers, lights, entry etc) and an 11 speaker Bose stereo.
        Navigation should be cheap since the screen is already included on lesser models.

      • 0 avatar
        -Cole-

        People like it built in.

        COMAND

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        My Android has an excellent GPS navigator, but it eats battery power like crazy when that app is running. I guess that’s what power cables are for.

        The larger screen on a ‘real’ GPS is nicer, too.

        I’m just surprised at the variance between mfr’s built-in systems.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I know very few people that don’t have smart phones. My technophobic mother-in-law has even been talking about getting one.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        I have a smart phone. My wife has a smartphone. Having a smart phone is _NOT_ the issue.

        Having a data plan @ $50/month or with limited data is the issue.

        If anyone has a pointer to an (android) app that has full US/world maps w/o a data plan, please let me know. My phone has a 32GB microsd so should easily be able to hold a set of world maps.

        There is NO reason to pay a monthly cellular data fee for maps when you can use a GPS that DOESN’T require a cell signal for a one-time cost of $80-$90.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        But if you already have the smartphone, you likely have the data plan as well. I’m not sure what the point of a smartphone is without a data plan. What can you do with it without the data plan?

        I’m not suggesting people buy a smartphone and sign a contract for a data plan just for navigation, just saying many people can leverage a device they already own and pay a subscription for.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        I use my smartphone w/o data plan for many things, including:

        as an mp3 player
        to track car expenses
        as a graphing calculator
        as an imap/exchange client when on wifi
        for games
        as a sip client when on wifi

        A smartphone is basically a computer. Computers have tons of uses without being connected to a network.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        A smartphone is like a computer… a crappy computer with a terrible OS, too small screen, terrible interface, and lousy battery life, especially on wifi. Sure people have them and use them with just wifi and no data plan, but those people are most likely not going to shell out $2k for a built-in nav system either. Smartphones were just an easy suggestion of something many people already have that has pretty good nav built into it.

        But I do understand the point of your comment: why doesn’t someone write an Android app that uses built-in maps and the built-in GPS to perform the nav functions? I think there is a technical issue with the type of GPS built into phones and tablets, it doesn’t perform full GPS, it uses the data connection together. That is why iPads without data functionality cannot do any GPS.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @mnm4ever:

        It’s a mini computer. My last smartphone (Nokia E63) even could support a bluetooth keyboard (never tried a mouse..!

        It’s a GREAT computer for simple games to pass the time and for keeping track of diet stuff, car stuff, etc.

        It’s NOT a good computer for doing any heavy type of computing — but there is no reason it can’t function as a GPS without a data connection.

        I’m about 90% sure that my phone can show where I am on GPS without cellular or wifi…I will try it tonight. My phone has a simple app that shows my GPS co-ordinates for example, at least under android.

        My smartphone is a Samsung Galaxy Y.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Yea I don’t know for sure, I remember when I got my wifi-only iPad I read up a bit on it and it was called A-GPS, supposedly wouldn’t work without the data connection, and I thought that I read the same thing about Android phones, that it was a lower-powered version of “real” GPS antennas. But apparently that is not true, in a few seconds of Google searching I saw at least a few people claiming to use GPS with no data connection on iPhones, I didn’t dig too deep on it. I have free unlimited data on all our phones and 3 or 4 dashtop Nav systems that I never use.

        Funny you mention car apps, the main reason I have resisted trying an iPhone or a new Windows phone is that I use the aCar app to track all my car details and I LOVE it, I don’t want to give it up and it doesn’t work on anything but Android. And I hate everything else about Android. I actually hate smartphones, if my company didn’t pay for it I wouldn’t even have one. Well, yes I guess I would because my wife can’t survive without hers!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        TomTom makes an app for the iPhone that is the functional equivalent of their stand-alone GPS. I assume they make it for Android as well, but I don’t know that for sure as I don’t have an Android phone. The TomTom app does not need a data connection, and they make a very nice windshield mount that includes the ability to charge the phone, and has a better GPS antenna than that included in the phones. Good stuff, but I still prefer to have a separate GPS device. Cost is the same either way.

        I utterly refuse to have built-in instantly obsolete navigation for thousands when you can get a new GPS for a hundred.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I agree if all you want is the navigation. Most nav options include a host of other features that come along with it like an upgraded sound system etc.

      In my Charger, I had to order nav to get the back-up camera. I think it was a $700 option, not totally outrageous.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    With that front overhang I really want to see a picture of a 6 with the hood open.

  • avatar
    Tick

    Great review Derek.

    “A major sore point with the car was road noise” – Seems that this is the consequence we deal with to save weight. Our WRX wagon was nimble and fun, but deafening on long drives on Alaska’s not so stellar roads. I look forward to someone developing a way to provide noise dampening without taking on the weight normally associated.

    Infotainment systems are Satan himself. They are obolete twenty minutes after purchase and never work as promised. I see these either going away or changing to a easily removed/upgraded version very soon, similar to car stereos. In the general aviation world, Garmin and other companies have been selling “glass” cockpit setups that replace the old analog guages for years that cost nearly what this car does. Now there are companies offering data acquisition setups that tie into an iPad or Android tablet for less than 2K. Garmin is already scrambling to adjust. It won’t be long till these same market forces do their noble work and smite the dark lord Infotainment.

  • avatar
    mjal

    Just got back from a test drive, base model with auto. Your assessment is pretty much on the mark. Great looking car, felt very well planted to the road, but relatively noisy ride, coarse engine, and so so acceleration.
    Seats were not great either. All in all, did not feel like a premium car. I’ll have to see how it compares to the new Altima and Accord, which I plan on test driving next.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    You say:

    “‘Skyactiv’ technology, which is a way to make cars lighter, and therefore, more efficient and fun-to-drive (if you buy their marketing spin).”

    But you also say:

    “At 3172 lbs, this car is light…”

    “…the CX-5…was a joy to drive.”

    “…Mazda has repeated the magic yet again.”

    “26/38 mpg city/highway is possible”

    It sounds like Skyactiv technology delivers…precisely what Mazda’s marketing claims it delivers: lightness, efficiency, and fun. In more than one of its models, no less.

    You can’t really call it “spin” if it’s the unvarnished truth.

    If you must, call it “zoom-zoom.”

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      The problem with ‘skyactiv’ is that’ its actually nothing new. The germans have been using DI engines and fancy transmissions for a long time now.

      Likewise with ‘earth dreams’ and ‘eco boost.’ The engine technology Chevy now uses doesn’t need a moniker.

  • avatar
    brettc

    It looks like a nice car and I’m anxiously waiting for the diesel option to show up. While the base price for the Sport model is pretty affordable, I wouldn’t want to replace those 19″ tires on the Touring models. The cheapest 225/45-19 tire on Tirerack is $164 (with 15 choices) while the cheapest 17″ tire is $81 with 92 choices. I don’t understand why manufacturers feel the need to shod all of these vehicles with such expensive LP tires. Most drivers in North America will never drive the car like it’s meant to be driven by the engineers. Might as well put some 195/65-15s on them at the factory. Oh well, rant over.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      My thoughts exactly. I’d pay extra to have the 17″ instead of the 19″ tires.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I bet you wont have any trouble finding some Sport buyers willing to swap you for the Touring rims and tires right there at the delivery lane.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “Most drivers in North America will never drive the car like it’s meant to be driven by the engineers.”

      It’s not about the driving experience. It’s about aesthetics. In some cases, it can make the driving experience worse if you make the wrong choice in favor of aesthetics.

      All those people on enthusiast forums who buy +1 or higher wheels and improperly lower their vehicles (without checking suspension geometry) tend to buy cheap blingy wheels and cheap tires because they are poseurs, not because they care about actual performance.

  • avatar
    skor

    I always loved Mazdas. While they generally don’t have the most powerful engines in their class, their chassis tend to be top-notch. Unfortunately, Americans will shrug and yawn. Why is this? Why doesn’t a car that handles like a BMW, for half the money, sell in the States? Because Americans don’t buy Bimmers because of their performance capabilities, the greater part of Americans care nothing for superior driving dynamics. Americans buy BMWs because they are Veblen Goods. Because Mazdas are cheap-ish, Mazda will remain a small niche player in the US auto market.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      There is certainly truth to some customers buying BMWs just because of the brand; however, part of the reason BMWs are expensive is because they offer the complete package.

      Mazda does a fantastic job of chassis, suspension, steering, and usually brakes. BMW offers all this plus engines that love to rev and sound good doing it, while delivering a nice balance of performance and economy. Generally better interiors on top of that.

      Mazda offers a great value, but let’s not pretend they are equivalent to BMWs at half the price. They need to get everything right to stand out, yet there always seems to be one or two issues that aren’t ironed out.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @ burgersandbeer Agreed 100% that Mazda isn’t quite a perfect budget bimmer. I’ve ridden in and driven plenty of 3′s, and while they do drive fantastic, they don’t handle quite as well as my 8 year old 330i, and they definitely are louder and don’t ride as smoothly. BMW is still the master of the ride/handling black magic. The drivetrains are a let down only insofar as the BMW I-6 is unmatched. Now that BMW is putting I4s in the cars, I think they’ve ceded some of that claim to superiority and Mazda can play catch up. The I4 in the Skyactive 3 is a fun, rev happy, snarly 4 cylinder…not bad if you must have a 4. I’d actually say the Focus delivers a much closer driving experience to a BMW.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    ” Bluetooth connectivity, a prerequisite for many people, requires a step up to the Sport automatic model. Presumably, this was done to cut costs on the price leader version”

    You’re giving Mazda too much credit Derek. I just looked into adding bluetooth to a laptop: $20. Sure, integrating it into a car incurs development costs, but once you’ve done that, adding it across the board costs almost nothing. Mazda, like many others, is doing this to screw the low-ballers and pressure them to move up. Props to Kia and Hyundai for not playing this game.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    I really like this car…. but I would really love this car if it had about 40 more horsies.

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    Does anyone know if the wagon is confirmed for the US, or are we left out of this round?

    I remember seeing the wagon during Paris auto show coverage, that was a sexy beast.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I’ve really liked the pictures I’ve seen so far. What I’m really excited about is the diesel power train. I’m definitely going to test drive one when they become available.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    I am very happy to see all of these steps forward. Mazda has got to be the most underrated auto company ever. I am on my 2nd Miata and also enjoy having a 3 wagon in the garage.

    Personally I don’t give a shit about all the electronic nonsense which is going to break anyway and don’t want any of it built into my car, especially navigation. It’s a car, not my effing desk. Get off the phone and drive!

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    “It [CX-5] was better than most station wagons. And the good news is that Mazda has repeated the magic yet again.”

    Except without a station wagon.

    I mean, people of Hiroshima, really?
    ALL your 6 be built in Japan.

    You already have a gorgeous 6 wagon built there that would cost you NOTHING to bring to the North American market,
    giving you, a niche automaker, a niche ALL TO YOURSELVES,
    a nice niche which might be high margin…

    Namely: The ONLY midsize station wagon sold in America. Diesel, Gas, Manual, Automatic?… All of the above! Stylish and practical…

    Nah,
    you’ll rather dick around with pretty but conventional and redundant stuff like Volvo.
    Until nobody remembers you even still exist.

    Good luck with that. Although they way you feel about rust-proofing, Volvos will still be on the road when your last 3 has collapsed about its rear wheel well.

    Have fun with more Moscow car shows.

    [SAD]

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The hilarious part about everyone bemoaning the absence of the wagon in the US is Mazda offered one with the first generation 6. It even had a manual transmission for a year or two! Yet no one bought them…

      So why does it cause any sadness that Mazda isn’t interested in repeating the exercise? What reason have the wagon lovers given them to think it would be different this time?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        People need to stop going on about what happened 10+ years ago. Gas was CHEAP, and the SUV/CUV craze was at its height. And there was PLENTY of competition in wagons back then, and that generation of Mazda 6 was none too special to start with being rather on the cramped side of things. The time is right to take a chance and bring it on. VW sells every Jetta wagon they bring into the US, and at plenty stiff prices too. If you want to see a car dealer smile, ask for a discount on a TDI wagon. The Mazda 6 wagon is a looker too.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I will only begin to consider it once it is available in a wagon body, with a turbodiesel engine (WITH RACING PEDIGREE OF COURSE), in a color like…. mmmm lets say “auto journalist aphrodisiac brown”. I have $30K in my imaginary day trading account burning a proverbial hole in my pocket

  • avatar

    With all the negative press the new Mazda3 design received, the big boys at Mazda must have told the design team to tone it down. Unfortunately it shows and not in a good way. Sure the car is good looking, but it’s just not distinctive enough and will have a hard time looking fresh in just a few years.

    But the real problem of this conservative design ethos is the interior. Sure it is a quality finish and soft touch but it is absolutely boring with none of the clever sporty bits of the current Mazda3′s interior. The navigation unit is terribly integrated in the dash, a complete afterthought. A huge miss. Hope this interior which matches the CX5 will not continue to the 2014 Mazda3. That would be a disaster. If Mazda wants to be the Alfa Romeo of Japan as they have said, they better get their designs in order.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Considering how garish and overly-busy some dashes are these days (Ford, Hyundai, and Cadillac: this means you), “boring” is a refreshing and comforting relief to some of us.

  • avatar
    Rmcnamar30

    Yes or No Derek.

    Mazda6 the best car in the segment?

    If not, what is?

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    It is Jan 13, and Mazda is pushing a 2014 model? Is this a marketing trick? Is Toyota making a mistake by just releasing it’s 13 Camry and Rav4?

  • avatar
    TheNit

    Does anybody know what the trunk is like? The previous version had a massive trunk that would be great for a golfing family. Will the new car’s trunk hold a couple of sets of golf clubs (and pull carts)?

    Also, I was disappointed to read in another review that the passenger seat cannot be raised. This is not good as my wife, who is vertically challenged, will not let me purchase a car that doesn’t allow her to see over the dash. It has already prevented me from getting Hyundai Genesis and a Jetta GLI.

    I guess I will have to wait for the 2015 to see if they fix this, just like I am waiting for the 2014 Genesis to see if a $50K car will get a passenger seat that elevates.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Bah, unbolt the passenger seat and put some spacers under it.

      • 0 avatar
        TheNit

        I can never figure out why people think it’s OK to just permanently raise the seat. Maybe it would be OK if I never drank and never had to sit in the pasaenger seat or drive my 6’3″ friend on a golf trip. It can’t be that expensive to have a passenger seat that goes up and down, even as an option.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Must be one of the new cost cutting measures. My GTI has the passenger seat that adjusts same as the drivers. I never checked in my coworkers new GLI.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Maybe you can find some kind of booster cushion? Maybe challenging to find something that doesn’t compromise comfort, but it’s worth looking into. If you otherwise like the car, this sounds like something you can work around.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Went down to my dealer yesterday and looked at the only 2014 6 that they had. Even better looking in person. I think I’m in love. When the diesel gets here, I’m thinking this will be my next car, and I’ve never bought a brand new car in my life.

  • avatar
    Zoom

    One photo?

  • avatar
    sketch447

    I sat in a Mazda6 last night at the auto show.
    The car is a stunner.
    However, the interior was cramped, much more so than an Accord or Altima.
    Granted, this version had leather, which is always a bit more snug inside than cloth.
    But I think we’re looking at a repeat of the the 2002 Mazda6. A car that was dynamically superior to its competition, but doomed with less interior room.
    In 2008, the Mazda6 went bigger but that didn’t help either.
    I dunno….maybe Mazda should just stick to compact cars and crossovers.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I will get to sit in one next week at my local auto show. The interior volume is 100cu ft so it is a little smaller than an Accord but it is right there with other midsizers (like the Fusion).

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think almost everything short of extended-wheelbase versions of the big Germans is cramped compared to the Accord. Shoulder room too.

      I’ve driven the new Accord briefly, and I couldn’t comfortable rest my left arm on the door sill because it was too far away.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    1.) With the mention of the CX-5, are there any plans to do a review (or mini-review) of the CX-5 2.5L? I’ve seen them show up in dealers’ online inventories recently.

    2.) What are the best options in the (midsize) segment with better NVH, even if they don’t quite match the 6′s handling?

  • avatar
    Tundra Dweller

    After weeding out all the others it’s down to the 2014 Mazda 6 sport with auto/package and the 2013 Honda Accord LX.
    The auto in the 6 is better than the Honda CVT. The options the auto package gains touch screen dash (a must have) with HD radio the Honda does not offer. Both have back up camera’s, traction/stability control and ABS brakes.. Mazda’s sport has 17″ wheels (Honda LX 16′s) dual tail pipes (Honda’s single), push button start (must buy Honda EX for key less start and 17″ wheels) and a manual seat height adjustment in the 6, drivers side. The only advantage the base Honda has is dual zone heat controls.

    I’ve driven both with AT’s. Both have equal peak horse power though the Mazda had more low end torque, almost like a V-6. The Mazda was more engaging to drive, like a sports car, and certainly more sporting looking. The Honda handled surprisingly well and had better sight lines than the 6. Slightly quieter on the highway too. The Mazda has 60/40 split fold down rear seat where as the Honda is a single fold down unit. The Accord still looks like grocery getter.
    The price for either is close enough to be a non-factor. I’m waiting for some more stateside reviews and owner comments on the Mazda 6. My head wants the Honda…my soul says buy the Mazda 6.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Why wait for reviews if you have already driven both?

      Did you check out an Accord LX Sport? That adds 18″ wheels, a second tailpipe, and allegedly 5 more horsepower.

      That’s interesting that you thought the Mazda felt stronger – most say the Accord moves pretty well while at least Derek was not impressed by the Mazda.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I just checked the Honda website for the Accord Sport. Not only does it include what you listed, but it is available with a genuine manual transmission! It looks like Honda may be listening to us finally, that would be about the best combination of options for the enthusiast who needs a family car, and the price is right at $24k, not too bad. Still only comes in 2 colors (black and light black) but hell, the new Accord does look really good in black at least. I am impressed.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I think Honda nailed the options packaging on the LX sport. Heated seats would be nice, but if that’s all I think is missing, they did really well. Especially at that price, and considering most competitors make you spend significant $ for heated seats as well.

        Add to all this Honda’s reputation for excellent manuals and reports of impressive acceleration for a 4-cylinder, and it’s a tough package to ignore.

  • avatar
    Tundra Dweller

    My reasoning for waiting for consumer reviews is issues, especially with re-designs, tend to surface after a few thousand miles.
    http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f266f12/0
    Look up 2013 Nissan Altima CVT issues, far too much buyer regret.
    Also would like to rent one for a day or two to really get a feel for the car a 10 minute test drive does not afford. I should test the Honda sport though I’m not interested in a stick shift, ironic as I’m a Motorcycle nut and deplore the clutch less models ;) The better half has 18″ wheels on her Sonata 2.0T and it rides like a lumber wagon on the frost heaved roads around here. Her snow tires/rims are 215 60R-16′s and we joke about how much nicer the ride is while giving up very little in handling.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I had the privilege of seeing one in person at the Baltimore auto show yesterday. It is a rather striking car in person. Seeing it and checking out all of its competition in the mid-size segment at the same show, This would no doubt be the one I would purchase. The trunk is cavernous, and the seats were comfortable. I especially liked that all of the key touch points – the armrest both in the center and on the door, the switchgear, and the steering wheel were all very pleasing to the touch (good leather on most I think). The only real negative is that the infotainment screen might be considered too small. Also, anyone over 6 foot may have headroom issues in the rear, I was pretty close to the ceiling at 5’9″.

    I liked it enough that I stopped by a Mazda dealer on my way home and took a new 6 for a test drive. It’s not fast, but felt like it had a decent mid-range and good highway demeanor. There was a small bit of wind noise, but coming from an S2000, anything is a marked improvement. I liked the brake pedal feel, the chassis and suspension felt well-poised, and the electric steering had a good feel to it. The one I test drove was a base Sport model, and that even had the good touch points everywhere, and good quality cloth on the seats.

    I’m pretty well set on getting one of these whenever I decide to move the S2k to weekend-only status.

    What struck me at the autoshow was really how much I disliked the Camry, and also felt the interior of the new Accord just didn’t feel right to me. I liked the fusion, but the setup of the infotainment system with no real buttons turned me off.

  • avatar

    I test drove Grand Touring today. It looks better in person (it was the first time I saw it in flesh). I agree that it looks sleek outside while Fusion look Italian hot but kind of blocky. It looks more premium than Optima. Interior is not cool and futuristic like in Fusion and is rather conservative and feels already dated. But it is a good quality. They should do something similar to Optima if they claim it to be a sport sedan. Only black interior was available and it is really black and dark inside (Fusion feels more spacious). Back seat does not have much space but I do not care.

    I was disappointed that there is only one engine choice which is 180-something hp 2.5L. But since car is light it is enough for commuting but I would hardly call it a sport sedan – it is a big stretch. Electric steering feel too light and artificial but is not as numb as in Acura. Buick Regal also has light steering but it firms up on the freeway, Mazda6 steering is light both in parking lot and on the freeway and it is not a good feeling on a freeway. Mazda feels less nose heavy that Fusion. Radio/Navigation controlled similar to iDrive which more convenient that touch screen in Fusion. In everything else I agree with reviewer. I general it does not have the same solid German feel as Fusion but it is much better than Optima. To sum it Fusion is like FWD BMW and Mazda is more like Miata. But again steering feel turns me away from this car. For me it is one of the most important factors. And I like futuristic interior in Fusion better too.

    Will it change Mazda’s fortunes? Don’t think so. People will hardly notice and artificial steering and weak engine may keep enthusiasts away too. Mazda has to decide what it is – if it claims to make sport sedans then it has to improve steering and have more advanced engines.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India