By on January 24, 2018

Mazda 6 Sport

I’ll be the first to freely admit that I am completely befuddled when an automaker officially markets a car as a “.5” model year. Barring a vehicle receiving notable updates six months before a complete overhaul, I profess to not seeing the point of half a model year. In this case, a new turbocharged engine is on tap for 2018, hence this car’s odd relationship with the calendar.

We’ll round this one up, then. The Mazda 6 sedan is an attractive car, offering a decidedly non-wallowy driving experience and – ye gods! – a manual transmission. It doesn’t hurt that one of our scribes just paid his own hard earned money for one. We’ll let you guess who in the comments.

The relatively paltry sum of $21,945 is only a few shekels more than the one-size-smaller Honda Civic coupe. That model was considered for today’s Ace of Base but was tossed aside like a battered copy of Forbes magazine thanks to it lacking a couple of options — certain features I can tolerate being missing from its cheaper sedan brother, but not in the more expensive coupe.

Anyways, back to the 6. Despite being on sale for the better part of a decade, it remains one of the best-looking cars in the midsize sedan segment and one of the few that can be fitted with three pedals, so long as one chooses the current 184 horsepower inline-four. Once the 227 hp turbo mill shows up in 2018, it’ll only be offered with an automatic, at least with that particular engine.

Naturally, air conditioning is standard in a car priced north of twenty grand, but it’s a few other features that nudge this 6 into the Ace of Base parking lot. Push-button start and a leather wrapped tilt/telescope wheel greet the driver, while passengers are placated with all manner of power accessories and a back seat armrest. While some may chuckle at that last item, more than one manufacturer has been known to delete that particular feature in a bid to save pennies on the base model.

Infotainment is acceptable, displayed by an electronic billboard which is controlled by a scroll wheel located down on the centre console. This approach does clean up the dash, making the car look more expensive inside than it actually is. Considering that where, y’know, drivers will actually be spending their time, that’s a Very Good Thing.

Vexingly, the electronic billboard responds to touch commands … but only up to about 5 mph. I guess the folks at Mazda don’t trust us to drive and jab at a screen simultaneously. Okay, fine; it’s still frustrating for the passenger.

Trouble is, of course, few are buying the thing. Only 33,402 of them left dealer lots last year. The Camry? More than 10 times that number. I can’t criticize – I’m part of the problem. In 2006, I bought a brand new four-cylinder stick shift hatchback 6 with a spoiler and smoked lenses from the Mazda dealer on Kenmount Road. It’s replacement in ‘09? A Ford Edge crossover. Oh dear. At least that was then replaced by a Dodge Charger in 2012.

Nevertheless, the mix of great looks and a four-door Miata vibe to its handling makes the Mazda 6 a desirable car. It’s price point cements its spot on our list.

[Image: Mazda]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

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74 Comments on “Ace of Base – 2017.5 Mazda 6 Sport...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    You could do worse for $22K, the manual is a plus. Even if you can live with the power numbers, the residual value looms like a specter.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      The residual value only counts if you plan on trading in the vehicle in 3-5 years. If you buy it and run the wheels off of it, you’ll use up all the value in almost any vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      If you care about residuals enough to where it impacts your buying decision, you should be leasing instead.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @a5ehren lol no.

        Buy a Tacoma, full size pickup, 4Runner, or Wrangler new. Make your monthly payments until the loan is paid off. Trade in and put the trade in value toward another one of the same. 2nd loan is smaller than the first loan and payments are lower.

        That’s not going to happen in a lease.

  • avatar
    TheDoctorIsOut

    “Vexingly, the electronic billboard responds to touch commands … but only up to about 5 mph. I guess the folks at Mazda don’t trust us to drive and jab at a screen simultaneously. Okay, fine; it’s still frustrating for the passenger.”

    I’ve seen this in many cars and wondered why the sensor in the passenger seat that enables the air bag only when the seat is occupied could not also be used to override this annoying nannyism.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Up until the newest Mazda CMU firmware a minor tweak to get the system to allow you to use the touch screen over 5 mph. There’s a built-in setting already present from the factory. You just have to access the diagnostic screen to toggle the switch.

    They’ve disabled or changed the method of getting to the diagnostic screen so if you’ve had your system firmware updated or it came with the latest, you’re out of luck.

    There was also a thriving community of hackers that figured out how to add all sorts of functionality to the Mazda CMU. However, it appears that Mazda have caught on to them and did a better job of securing their system. You’ve gotta be pretty tech savvy to make it work with the latest firmware.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      What kills me about this us that Mazda’s lawyers actually think it’s safer to use the scroll wheel than a touch screen. I wonder how many potential Mazda buyers chose another brand because of something like this. I’ll bet more than one might think.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Especially since you still have to look at the damn screen while you’re scrolling away. Every car radio ever, no matter how simple or complex, has been a distraction. The designer has to balance the radio’s usability against how much it distracts the driver.

        • 0 avatar
          Ah_non_e_mouse

          As an owner of a 2015 3 I’m gonna have to respectfully disagree on having to look at the screen.

          Once you are used to the system and the layout of the menu items (granted there is a learning curve to this), you can move the wheel by feel to your desired function by counting the number of clicks as there is very good tactile feedback. You can also use the buttons around the wheel as shortcuts as the center home button is slightly raised. This orients your fingers on the keypad allowing you to press the correct desired button solely by feel.

          I can’t imagine not having the scroll wheel and buttons now. I actually find using the volume button on the center console easier than using the steering wheel buttons.

      • 0 avatar
        Bfw123

        Honestly, I thought I would have the wheel in my 6 Grand Touring. Truth is, it’s very intuitive and easy to use with shortcut buttons right where my fingers naturally land.

        Only thing I still hate is that it will not let me enter a new GPS Coordinate while in motion, unless I use voice commands.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      I was watching a video the other day about adding Android Auto to the Mazda CMU. They did’t show how it was done, but the guy had it running perfectly on his Mazda display, which was interesting since it’s not even an option.

      In-car infotainment systems make my stomach turn because of their cost and their pointlessness (for me), but hacking a car’s CMU and adding programs and switching settings around was quite entertaining.

      • 0 avatar
        Sub-600

        I’m on my second car in a row with Uconnect 8.4, it’s so easy and intuitive that you really don’t need to look after a short period of using it. If there’s a better system I’d like to see it.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Every time I see one of these in person my heart sinks in awe of its beauty. I swore I’d never get another Mazda but I’m drawn to this car.

    Hope to have the Elantra paid off sometime in 2020 at the latest. I bet low-mileage 2016’s or 2017 Mazda6 Touring 6MT’s will be some temptingly cheap lot poison by then! Would make for an awesome weekend/vacation car!

  • avatar
    AK

    I like that they come with cloth instead of the leatherette in the touring trim.

    And when given the choice between the big 19 inch wheels in the touring and the 17s in the Sport, I’d take the 17s to use as my winter set and buy a nice set of 18s for the summer.

    Nicely packaged car.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I am with you 100%. Leatherette and big wheels – 2 items that cut me off going for Touring. This one tire cost $250. 17″ is half of that. And because this is Mazda, the suspension is great and 17″ wheels with more meaty tires work great in handling, ride, and on bumpy roads. Other manufacturers often compensate inadequate suspension with low profile tires – not Mazda

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I was put off from buying a Mazda6 three years ago when shopping for a mid sizer for commuter duty. One of my wife’s co workers husband had a one year old 6 that had some problems from the get go. He went to three Mazda dealers, and none of them could fix the problem. He was starting a lemon law repurchase due to this. The lack of competent techs was a big red flag for me.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If you’ve got to have a manual I always thought that Touring was the sweet spot. Leatherette and heated seats with the driver engagement of a clutch.

    Out here there are dealers advertising 6 sedans for less than the equivalent model 3.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Eeeeh, 19″ wheels spoil everything. I am happy with cloth – no need for heat or cool them. + Lumbar support comes standard. The price these days is great. I paid $18.5K. The price alone made me buy it.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Well honestly I’d be the guy trying to convince the dealer he should swap the 19s for the 17 in wheels on the base model sitting across the lot. :-)

        Always Be Closing.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          When I bought my Protege ES it came with (pimp my ride) chrome wheel covers. I told dealer that the only condition for me to sign on it was if they switch these with ones from LX model. They did it in a hurry. But, hey, I think, for 19″ – switch them and give me another $800 off. The tires alone $600 more on Touring.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        $18.5k is a great deal on any new car, let alone something as hearty as the 6. Congrats!

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Really, a start-stop button is considered “must-have” tech? The mind boggles…

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      Agreed. That’s right up there with the electronic dash iPad thingie…

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Must have tech would be an iPod/iphone dongle and bluetooth streaming and phone connectivity.

      The rest of most of the other tech will be outdated in 4 years with zero plan from the manufacturers to update the tech (Hyundai being the sole outlier AFAIK).

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Didn’t think much of it until my car came with it. Now the feature is up there with sunroof, power seat and air conditioning as “must-have” items. You should try it…..

      One item that is more and more a feature on especially luxury and premium cars is stop-start technology when coming to a full stop. I don’t get it. No thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      No fishing keys out of pockets is a small but very nice thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Most of the time I don’t care about fishing for keys.

        This changes entirely when it’s frigid out, and I’d have to take my glove off to get at the keys in my pocket.

        Overall then, I think it’s worth having, for people in cold climates or perhaps women with purses where keys get lost.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Over Christmas break, my in laws were left immobilized by their keyless entry/ push-start system on their Rav4 when the battery in their key-fob suddenly crapped out. They were able to open the car with the little built in key inside of the FOB, but couldn’t start it. Now, after a bit of googling sure enough there is a fairly simple procedure to hold the fob right next to the push button and it should start. But the whole episode was kind of comical to me, driving my 22 year old Toyota truck with a plain-jane metal key. Luckily I was there to drive them to their house to fetch the other fob.

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          This worries me slightly about the Mazda, but I’ve read the procedure so am not overly concerned. However, that rrmijnds me of the system in Fords and other makes with the push button system whereby you cram the fob into a slot and leave it there. This allows the cat to recognize the key via RFID (I think).

  • avatar
    vvk

    I wonder how it compares with the base manual transmission Accord.

    Does it hang rev between shifts?

  • avatar
    scdjng

    I was wanting a Mazda3 hatch in GT trim with a manual. Looked for four months and couldn’t find a used one. Went with a 2016 Touring in red with beige leather and the manual. Ended up paying way less that I originally wanted and am loving this car. These are seriously a used car bargin and a hidden gem. Highly recommend.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    If this was available as a modern Speed 6, I think I’d give Mazda another try.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Ace of base review missed: Leather in the dash, mirror turn signals, split folding rear seat, lumbar support, pre-wiring for fog lights. And that Civic most likely has only intermittent wipers, not variable-intermittent wipers. And how about one touch 4 windows. Or the rear windows that fully sink into doors (hello ’17 Accord). And HD radio/ local traffic map. 100 voice commands. How about dual seatback pockets and SD card slot becides the USB. Nice

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Nice car, even in base trim. I thought the front seats were excellent, and despite being only 4-way manually adjustable I had no trouble finding a very comfortable driving position. The 2.5+6spd auto is great for a base powertrain, gives a little shove in the back whereas most don’t in this segment, and the transmission’s responsive. Road noise is finally acceptable. The ride/handling balance on the 17 inch base wheels is about spot-on for me, I’m guessing I wouldn’t care for the 19s.

    The cabin’s a bit of a bunker, though. The materials are pretty good but the beltine is high, the cowl’s a bit high, and rear visibility isn’t great. It also loses some family duty points for the sloping rear roofline–kids in car seats and all that.

    This was a close podium finish for us a few months ago.

    Great car, it should sell more than it does. The 2.5T is intriguing to me. In the white/black two-tone leather interior it could do a passable impression of an entry-level luxury car.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Base engines pair well with manuals. Turbo engines pair well with automatics. The Mazda6 is a lovely car and deserves more sales, and my guess would be Matt Posky because only Canadians buy Mazdas. I’m ruling out Tim Cain because he already has an Odyssey and a Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      There is youtube video that supports what you are saying. Some Mazda dude explains how this turbo works and why no MT. But in my book – just stick damn MT into it and let us deal with it. Although, MT could of been done better than it is now.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    This is a great base model- far better than even what you get in the Mazda 3 for the same price in terms of value. The 2.5 does motivate the 3 better, but combined with the stick, the base 6 really is a great package. Plus they’ve slowly added features to the base that used to only be on the higher trims (like the infotainment, which used to be unavailable with stick).

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I have a ’16 6 Touring and I love it. Fun to drive, plenty of power for daily driving, great gas mileage, huge trunk, well built and reliable. Good in the snow, too, even with the less-than-desirable factory Dunlops.

    It’s a well-built, reliable, attractive car that deserves more sales than it gets.

    My only worry with mine is that they’ll discontinue the model and I’ll be left with zero resale value. Right now, I’m far away from being upside down on my loan – and I’d like to keep it that way.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “Good in the snow, too, even with the less-than-desirable factory Dunlops.”

      HA!
      – Dunlop = crap – well known fact
      – December 25, 7AM started driving from Boston into snowstorm that ended in Hartford. Passed every car that was going on Mass pike and i84. But it was done on 17″ tires which are not Dunlops

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        I was surprised that the car wasn’t more slippery acting in the snow, but it did fine. Not as good as my wife’s CX-5 does with Goodyears, but serviceable at least.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Every tire manufacturer makes tire models that are inappropriate for certain conditions.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Have the updated the infotainment system to not insult you when chose NAV but didn’t pay for it? I’ve rented a few Mazdas from Hertz (assume these are base models) and when scrolling to the NAV option a compass appears along with a note at the bottom that recommends you see your local dealer if you actually want a map to fill the screen. So why not just remove the NAV menu all together? This is similar to the dreaded blank switch in the dash when you didn’t pony up for the heated seat option. However this is software (vs hardware) so it should be an easy change. I would be ticked off if I had look at that message every day.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      The reason it’s there is because NAV is basically a $99 option at the dealer. You pay the $99, they insert an SD card into a special slot in the glove box, and you’re off to the races. If they remove that button via software then the dealer has to do an SD card + software update for customers wanting to add NAV, which is more complexity for them and more cost for the customer.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        oh! is this the SD card that goes into center console under armrest? If this is $99, I am in!

        • 0 avatar
          zoomzoomfan

          $99? Last I checked it was like $200.

          • 0 avatar
            notwhoithink

            I’ve never bought one, but I was told by the salesman on a test drive last year that they charged $99 for it. Now at the time I was test driving a Grand Touring model which already came with it, so I wouldn’t have bought one individually anyway, so who knows if he was just talking out of school. He was explaining why the navigation wasn’t working on the model I was driving, and it was because they didn’t actually install the SD cards until customers took delivery so that people wouldn’t swipe them.

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          Slavuta, the SD card is about $400 from the dealer, but you can nab it online for $180. Plug it in and go. Works really nicely too.

        • 0 avatar
          stuart

          Dunno about the 6, but in my 3 the card goes in a slot in the center of the dash, ahead of the gearshift. I paid US$95 for mine on Ebay. Search for “Mazda Navigation SD card”.

          Be aware that Mazda has issued several versions; you might prefer to get the most recent one.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Done my research today. Dealer normal price is $399. Online dealer price is $250-350. Then there are ebay sellers for as low as $56. Amazon $99-160. More expensive variants come with Mazda Navigation Manual. But this manual is available in PDF on Mazda website. It is tempting to try one for $56. One seller sold 188 of these ($56) and has 5 positive product reviews. Says, it has 3 years update plan.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I got a Touring manual in March 2017 for right around the MSRP of the Sport. That included 0.0% financing. There are good deals to be had on the 6, especially if you don’t “have to have” the revised 2018 model coming soon. If you want a manual and are picky about color, be prepared to look far and wide.

    I picked the Touring for the rain-sensing wipers, tan interior, auto ON/OFF headlights and auto HVAC. Couldn’t live without those features.

    The car is definitely a looker. The infotainment system is very good overall. The engine is good but lacks outright refinement. The folding rear seat backs are great – I fit a 6ft workbench top inside the car. Overall the car is well above average but falls just short of greatness.

    • 0 avatar
      zoomzoomfan

      Your Touring must have the optional Technology package, unless they changed things for 2017. My 2016 has auto climate control but no rain-sensing, no auto/off lights (they auto off but don’t auto on), and no heated seats. Heated seats are the only feature I sorely miss. I looked into have them installed via aftermarket, but that was nearing $500.00.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        Among several other changes for 2017, the auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing wipers and dual-zone auto CC were all added as standard features to the Touring trim. My 2017 Touring does not have standard heated seats, but the 2017.5 Touring does. Other notable additions to the 2017 Touring include the G-Vectoring control, improved NVH/sound insulation and Smart City Brake Support.

        For 2017 and 2017.5, if you wanted the manual transmission you could not add any options or packages to a Touring. You could, however, add a couple of packages to the automatic Touring.

  • avatar
    rod miranne

    Nice article. I have an 07 6i 5-door w/ 158,000 miles. 11 years old and trouble free. Made in Michigan. Should have keep your old 5-door. I will keep mine as long as possible. Resale value only counts if you trade in in every 3-4 years.
    I really miss the 5-door model. Mazda should consider bring it back in the next generation 6. Kia and Buick are bringing out 5-doors.
    For my next car I’d probably get a CX-5. At 64 years old I like seating higher and it’s easier to get in and out of.
    Mazda’s are great cars and SUV’s ant it’s a crime that they don’t sell more in the USA.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    Looks like every person who bought a Mazda 6 in North America is commenting here.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      This is a good joke. But no. In fact, I have 2 neighbors who has 2016-17 ‘6 and don’t come here. Also, one dude who works with me (only Hindu I know who doesn’t drive Toyonda), also bought ‘6 on my recommendation and he is not here, but very happy with his car. What you say make sense, unfortunately.

      • 0 avatar
        zoomzoomfan

        I always comment on posts about the 6 because I feel the personal need to defend it. Haha. I have enjoyed mine for 2.5 years so far.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          #Metoo. I need to defend Mazda entire lineup. Well, until they started to make ‘3 in Mexico. I am enjoying Mazda since 1998. Protege wasn’t flawless but pretty solid long-run vehicle. 2 Mazda3 (’10 and ’11) I have now, are nearly flawless so far. And the ‘6 is too new to tell. I know skyactiv MTs had issues but those should of been resolved by 2017.

          • 0 avatar
            zoomzoomfan

            Yeah. I am the same way about Mazda. I had a 2008 Mazda3 S Touring hatchback for six years and 63,000 miles and it never gave me any trouble. Didn’t rust, either, and I drove it year round. It was amazing in the snow. I used it as a moving vehicle twice in college.

            My wife and I bought her 2013 CX-5 new in December 2012 and it has been great as well. Hasn’t needed anything besides brakes, tires, and an update to the PCM which the dealer did via a TSB.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I have a 2017 Touring model and if I had one gripe it would be that the infotainment system is a bit slow to boot up and get going if using Pandora or Stitcher, otherwise there’s really nothing that I can complain about. As for power it seems perfectly adequate for what I need. Anything more and I’d feel like I was wasting the car.

    My friend has a 2017 Mustang GT with whatever it has for power and it was fun to drive the one time I’ve gotten to, but knowing myself and the fact that I recognize my limits behind the wheel I don’t know where I’d really get to enjoy it safely and without putting others in danger. I live in Minnesota where it’s relatively flat and there are no curvy roads and I’m not interested in spending money on trackdays. If I had that much power it would be akin to driving a brodozer and never carrying more than maybe a couch; I’d rather not feed the loud pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      My only problem is gear spacing on MT. But I do wish for more speed off the gate.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I have a 2017 Touring with nav. The slow boot time of the Mazda Connect system is a big gripe, but unfortunately is the way the car came on Day 1. After about 60 seconds everything is ready to go. When you just want to get in and plug in a destination or play some music, it seems like an eternity.

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