2014 Mazda6: Take Two

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro
2014 mazda6 take two

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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  • Autoguy Autoguy on Mar 09, 2013

    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.).

  • Rolland Rahr Rolland Rahr on Mar 10, 2013

    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.

  • SCE to AUX Faraday Future shouldn't even be here, and they won't make it. Other ultra-expensive EVs are fun projects for companies who can fund them from other revenue.The Lucid Air is a strange one because it starts at $87k but can run to over $250k. Most cars jump only around 50% for top trims, not 300%.As for EVs - don't give me more power (easy); give me more range (hard). And quicker filling time.
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  • Fahrvergnugen "If you’re itching for an ultra-exclusive EV – and who isn’t – "Me...
  • Dukeisduke Tim, once all this foam is everywhere, how do you get rid of it? Does it take a while to break down? I think of the scene in the 1963 James Garner / Doris Day film "The Thrill Of It All", where boxes of soap end up in the swimming pool, creating mountains of foam. The Thrill of It All (1963) - IMDb
  • MrIcky I have a foam cannon, it makes washing the car much faster which helps me do it more often. Foam cannon>pressure wash>suds bucket and mitt for tough spots but touch as little as possible>pressure wash those spots>spray on some detailer solution as I dry to keep the water beading up. 15 minutes-ish?