Interested in More Power? Mazda Drops a Turbo Into a Troubled Sedan

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.

[Images: Mazda]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Rprellwitz Rprellwitz on Nov 20, 2017

    With most manufacturers tripping over themselves to create an electrified driver-less pod perhaps this could drive some sales for Mazda. A true drivers sedan. Mate that 2.5 turbo with a 6/7MT and AWD (and actually allow US to option out the MT model) Sign me up.

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Nov 21, 2017

    I like the new Mazda 6 with the 2.5L Turbo but the cylinder deactivation is a big negative for me! Now, I have to wait to see what the new buyers think about it! Mazda seems to alway sabotage their marketing efforts to sell their cars with a big negative to counter a big positive that of a long awaited turbo engine. It is so ridiculous that Mazda management just cannot leave a good thing by itself. Of course, offering AWD would get to buy it but knowing Mazda, it not going happen!

  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
  • CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
  • Lorenzo Aw, that's just the base price. Toyota dealers aren't in the same class as BMW/Porsche upsellers, and the Toyota base is more complete, but nobody will be driving that model off the lot at that price.
  • Mike The cost if our busing program is 6.2 million for our average size district in NJ. It was 3.5 last year.