Stick Shift: 2018 Mazda 6 Signature

Photo via: Mazda

For as long as I can remember, the whole Mazda line-up has shared a core mission, to inject a little ‘zoom-zoom’ into each model. With varying degrees of success, it’s been quietly recognized by most, that when compared to other models in its category, the Mazda is likely to be more fun and more lively to drive. While the Mazda 6 has always been a mid-sized sedan with a dynamic chassis, it was always held back with underwhelming acceleration. Finally, that’s all changed. The Mazda 6 has become the fortunate recipient of the 2.5L SKYACTIV turbo 4-cylinder engine from the CX-9. In short, with 227 hp and an astonishing 310 lb-ft of torque, the Mazda 6 has finally found more than enough ‘zoom-zoom’ of its own.

It’s unfortunate that a manual transmission option isn’t available, as it would pair nicely to all this new turbo-charged power. The six-speed automatic is carefully tuned though to perfectly match the engine’s exciting powerband. Torque is available almost immediately. Thanks to the engine’s dynamic pressure turbo, any wind-up and lag is virtually eliminated. Power delivery is steady and acceleration is surprisingly aggressive to say the least. 

The good news continues. Since the 2.5L is still a relatively compact 4-cylinder, weight at the Mazda’s front end remains low. This helps the new 6 retain its balance and dynamic handling. Turn-in is super crisp. Body control is excellent, without much pitching or rolling around tight corners. Some smart technology and clever engineering in the front suspension helps eliminate most of the torque-steer that powerful front-wheel drive cars are usually plagued with. All added up, the 2018 Mazda 6 feels more like a composed rear-drive sports sedan than the front-drive 4-cylinder that it is. 

The exterior styling of the 2018 Mazda 6 continues to impress both up close and from a distance. Though no major changes mark the new year, with a design as polished as this, the Mazda 6 is aging with complete grace. It feels future-proof for a few more years at least. Interior design makes excellent use of nice materials throughout. There’s impressive Napa leather, ventilated and heated front seats, suede and wood trim. Even an 11-speaker Bose system. Lets not forget the myriad of driving aides and safety features on board as well. Every element and component swirls together to create the ambiance of a car that you’d expect to cost much more than it does. The obvious value in the new Mazda 6 is immediately evident and completely undeniable. 

Photo via: Mazda

As a mid-sized sedan, the Mazda 6 has always been a compelling option. If the most recent changes and more powerful engine had come a few years earlier, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry would’ve had a hard time keeping up. Now though, compared to its competition, one can’t help but see its age. Especially in terms of technology and interior design. Still, even a little late to the party, the 2018 Mazda 6 looks wonderful, comes generously loaded for the price and most important of all, is an absolute blast to drive. Not one to be counted out yet.

By: Brandon Randall

Price as tested: $36,435.00

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