MAZDA’S LEAN 6 SIGMA
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Fri, Jan 27, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Lean Six Sigma is widely known as a blueprint for quality products from efficient manufacturing practices. At Toyo Kogyo, Lean Six could also describe its bread and butter family car, appropriately called the Mazda6. We commandeered a 2012 model to see how Mazda’s lean machine compares with its competition. Mark Dorman reports. By Mark Dorman The Mazda 6 was one of the few family sedans we were looking forward to drive. With its sleek styling, aggressive looks, and reputation that goes along with the zoom-zoom mantra, it seems like a family car that is a notch or two higher in the excitement department than its competitors. Certainly the ruby red example delivered to us was no disappointment visually. The car simply looks great. Mazda does an exemplary job with their new styling, and we think it looks even better than the last generation Mazda6 (which we were pretty fond of).
Upon first inspection, we were delighted to see a manual transmission model with a sporty interior. The layout of all the controls is very logical and all easy to access. Everything is fairly intuitive and added to the sporty nature of the car. Now could the driving experience live up to the company’s mantra and the early impressions? Driving Experience On the road, the car is very civilized. The ride is comfortable, with road noises hushed to the extent we expect from a car in this class. There was a bit less isolation from road noises and bumps than in a comparable Nissan Altima or Toyota Camry, but nothing that spoils a nice drive. Feedback from the steering wheel is a bit less than we expect from Mazda, considering that the Mazda3 and Miata have excellent steering feedback and feel. It’s certainly not as numb as a Toyota, but still not quite as sharp as we would like. Overall, it’s adequate for a family sedan but not as sporty as one would expect, given its zoomy looks and the zoomy ads.
The front wheel drive does induce a slight bit of torque steer under hard acceleration and the power is a bit lacking for the size. However once the car gets going, there is adequate passing power and it does not have trouble getting up to speed. The power issue can easily be solved by ordering the V6 engine that is offered (we have the four), which is not appreciably worse in the gas consumption department. The handling is feels secure if not sporty. Still, you can have plenty of confidence going into any turn and the car is very enjoyable on a twisty road. Creature Comfort Impressions Seat comfort is excellent, with plenty of support and good-size bolsters to keep you upright in the corners. The steering wheel feels great in your hands and the buttons for radio and phone control are well-placed for hands-free operation. The back seat is roomy with plenty of leg and foot room for a couple extra passengers. The middle seat is not the most comfortable, but an average sized adult will not feel cramped if they wished to take a short ride there. The trunk has generous space and the opening is large enough that you should not have trouble fitting anything from suit cases to gold bags there. The overall interior quality is acceptable. Soft touch plastics and good build quality ensure no annoying rattles and creates a tactile-friendly environment.
W keep going back to the styling, however, which is phenomenal. The car looks great and the paint and build quality are excellent. With the styling cues reminiscent of the much sportier MazdaSpeed3 and RX8, it is easy to see why this car can turn heads anywhere it goes. SUMMARY JUDGMENT This lean machine is a great-looking family sedan that is affordable in every way: It won’t hurt the wallet, won’t inspire reckless driving, and is easy on the gas. Definitely deserving of being on the short list. For more information about Mazda products, go to www.mazdausa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 Mazda 6 iSport (MT) Price: $20,480 (base, and as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 21/30 mpg (2.5L MT) 22/31 mpg (2.5L AT) 18/27 mpg (3.7L AT) Engine sizes and types: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder with VVT Horsepower: 4-cylinder: 167 hp @ 6000 rpm (PZEV = 165 hp @ 6000 rpm) 6-cylinder: 272 hp @ 6250 rpm Torque: 4-cylinder: 168 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm (PZEV = 167 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm) 6-cylinder: 269 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed overdrive manual 5-speed Sport with Adaptive Shift Logic and manual-shift mode 6-speed Sport with Adaptive Shift Logic and manual-shift mode Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive (FWD) Steering (type): Power rack-and-pinion with hydraulic variable assist Suspension (front and rear): Front MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar Rear Multilink with stabilizer bar Brakes: 4-wheel disc, front 11.8-inch vented disc, rear 11.0-inch solid disc, 4-wheel, 4-channel with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist Wheels, and Tires: 16x6.5 wheels and P205/65R16 all-season radial tires 17x7.0 wheels and P215/55R17 all-season radial tires (optional) 18x8.0 wheels and P235/45R18 all-season radial tires (optional) Dimensions Length: 193.7 in Wheelbase: 109.8 in Width: 72.4 in Height: 57.9 in Curb weight: 3272 lbs (2.5 MT), 3329 (2.5 AT), and 3574 (3.7 AT)