Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: August 30, 2019
Mazda’s Signature trim is a demonstration of the automaker’s capabilities in producing something upscale and luxurious. Originally exclusive to the CX-9, the Signature model included all the tech fixings along with a more polished and posh interior. Now, Mazda has expanded it to their mid-size sedan. Along with a newly refreshed exterior, the Mazda6 proposes as a compelling option for those who might want a little bit more from their family sedan, but in this hyper-competitive segment, is it too little too late?
The handsome Mazda6 sees a few enhancements to its metalwork. Most notable is a revised five-point grille with a rather striking 3D mesh centre. Further accentuating the car’s athletic looks are a narrower pair of headlights, and swooping flares along the front fenders provide a subtle suggestion of the Mazda6’s handling potential. Painted in Soul Red Crystal metallic, it’s easily the smartest looking sedan when parked next to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
To match the 6’s swanky good looks, Mazda has pulled out all the stops to deliver a cabin experience to match. Starting with the Signature trim’s choice of seating upholstery, everything is laid out in soft Nappa leather. My example came equipped with Pure White nappa leather - a bold contrast to the bright metallic red exterior and it works. Real Sen wood veneer adds a dash of character to the otherwise wintery colour pallette inside. Adding to the melting pot of textures are gilded ultrasuede dash pieces, which use a colouring process akin to traditional Japanese kimonos.
After spending a week with the Mazda6, the interior still remains one of my favourite aspects of the car. It isn’t perfect though. For starters, the resolution of the ‘360-degree’ camera feels like I’m trying to stream YouTube videos in an elevator. In tight parking spots when the front camera is directed at a concrete wall, the resolution is so poor I had trouble discerning just how close I was getting. Like other Mazdas as well, touch screen capability is disabled when the vehicle is in motion. While there’s Apple Carplay and Android Auto, it still needs to be stated that navigating the interface with the sizable iPod scroll wheel feels like an afterthought.
Thankfully, all of these quables are forgotten once the 2.5L SkyActiv turbo-four fires up. Performance figures are identical to the CX-9 and compared to its competitors, the Mazda6 sits in the middle of the pack with 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. Keen owners looking to squeeze more from it can achieve 250 hp with 91-octane fuel, putting it awfully close to the class-leading 252 hp Honda Accord. But don’t let the numbers fool you. The Mazda6’s straight line performance doesn’t feel nearly as exhilarating, but who is out there drag racing family sedans anyways? Where the 6 delivers in spades is in driving feel. The steering for example is responsive and well weighted. It loads up quickly in the corners, all the while providing ample feedback in how the front axle is tracking. At highway speeds, noise, vibration, and harshness is kept at minimum, coupled with the comfort tuned dampers, the Mazda produces a quiet and supple ride. Body roll is well controlled in this instance, and while refinement is the clear focus here, it does so without ever feeling too soft nor bouncy.
Prices for the Mazda6 start at $27,350 for the GS trim, and unlike other manufacturers, Mazda’s pricing strategy precludes options and packages. Instead, owners looking for specific features will have to move up the trim levels. The GT caps out at $36,150, which includes all the tech and safety features you’d expect in a modern day sedan. What sets this family hauler apart from its competition though is that Signature trim, which substantially classes up the cabin, offers a 360-degree camera, and front and rear parking sensors, all for a hair under $40,000. While competitors may excel in their own individual category, the Mazda6 offers a competitively holistic package with a standout interior and palpable steering feel.