Interested in More Power? Mazda Drops a Turbo Into a Troubled Sedan
Underpowered. Not as refined as the competition. Fantastic looks. Excellent handling. It’s hard to find a review of the Mazda 6 midsize sedan that doesn’t include at least two of these observations.
For 2018, Mazda’s hoping the first criticism goes the way of disco (or of the midsize sedan segment). Ahead of its November 29th debut at the L.A. Auto Show, the zoom-zoom brand is letting everyone know that buyers enamored with the 6’s flowing lines needn’t suffer from mediocre grunt. Mazda’s blowing the 6’s 2.5-liter four-banger for the upcoming model year.
Contained within the ever-so-slightly refreshed 2018 Mazda 6 is the Skyactiv-G turbo 2.5-liter found in the company’s well-regarded CX-9 crossover. In that application, the engine generates 250 horsepower and a generous 310 lb-ft of torque.
Just compare the output of the optional engine (exact specs will have to wait) to the standard powerplant found in the 2017 model. That direct-injected 2.5-liter, which becomes the entry-level engine for 2018, makes 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. Should the new 6 make CX-9 levels of torque, that’s a two-thirds increase in twist.
For what it’s worth, Mazda claims the new motor “offers an effortless performance feel that is equal parts composure and excitement.” Certainly, past reviews of the 6 describe an agile vehicle with a chassis that’s willing to dance, but lacking in desired muscle.
Also joining the powertrain lineup for 2018 is cylinder deactivation. Mazda aims to boost the base engine’s fuel economy by shutting down two cylinders under light loads.
You might not be able to tell from the provided photo, but there’s styling tweaks on hand for 2018, too. Yes, there are actually quite a few differences seen in that partial front shot, including a remolded lower bumper, new grille mesh design, and restyled headlights. The curvaceous flanks continue unchanged.
As part of its continuing effort to bring the Mazda brand upmarket, designers working both inside and outside the vehicle aimed for “a look of greater maturity and composure,” the company claims. That means more refinement in the cabin, including the use of Japanese Sen Wood — something furniture aficionados might know a thing or two about. There’s also more content.
For 2018, Mazda’s midsizer adds a wider range of i-Activsense safety technologies, as well as Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC). This system will bring the car to a full stop and back up to speed again. A newer 360-degree view monitor keeps tabs on things lurking closeby.
Mazda’s attempt to instil more athleticism into the 6 is an admirable one, but it comes at a time when the rapidly shrinking midsize sedan segment is increasingly gravitating towards two models: Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Those two models accounted for 39 percent of the segment’s sales in October, a month where the segment’s market share sunk below 10 percent.
Sales of the Mazda 6 in the U.S. sank 27 percent, year-over-year, last month. Over the first 10 months of 2017, sales are down nearly 23 percent.
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