Mazda builds a MILF family sedan*
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 Thu, Dec 19, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Zoran J. Segina The first encounter with the 2014 Mazda6 leaves one marveling how good-looking this car is. The generic lines of the past have been replaced by an angular body, steeply raked windshield, and a beautifully designed front fascia with a mischievous smile below a large Mazda logo. Headlights are encased in a single bezel. From the flared front wheel wells—to accommodate nineteen-inch low profile tires on brushed five spoke aluminum wheels—the line slightly dips to the A pillar and then raises toward the back. The roofline is a sweeping curve that stretches from the front wheel wells to within a foot from the rear end. The Mazda6 design has certain Maserati-esque quality that could easily invite whistles and hollers from the passersby. The rear view mirrors have black trim with warning light and the lower part of the rear is also trimmed in black plastic. A wraparound rear light assembly above the two chrome exhausts completes the picture. The front doors have lights on the bottom to assist getting in and out of the vehicle. The exterior design features continue inside. A leather-covered three spoke steering wheel with aluminum accents on the lower end has ergonomic indentations for the hands, and can be adjusted for telescope and rake. The seats are leatherette. The interior, dotted with speakers, is a tasteful interplay between black plastic and brushed aluminum. Rear view mirror with automatic dimming function has a compass indicator. A pocket for sunglasses pocket is right behind. All four doors have handles. Mazda6 has dual control automatic air condition system and cooling. The driver looks at three simple instruments—tach on the left, speedo in the center, and a multiple indicator screen to the right. This one provides outside temperature, average fuel consumption, time on the road, and a trip odometer. A blue light on the dashboard indicates cold engine. The center of the dashboard contains navigation screen and the audio system. Despite the navigation control button, the rest of the system was not to be found. A knob behind the shifter controls several functions. There are connections for the Bluetooth, Pandora, USB ports that can be found in the compartment between front seats. The cover can be pushed forward for relaxed cruising, or back for spirited driving. Underneath the engine cover hums a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder transversally mounted engine. The transmission is pushed as far back as possible to even the front/rear weight distribution. The innards seem relatively simple and easily accessible with a nice engine plastic cover. To keep the costs down the hood has no supporting telescopic lifters and requires muscle to lift. The audible warning about side traffic may have been well-intentioned, but the incessant beeping every time one tries to change lanes gets rather annoying. This is Southern California, for Pete's sake. How often can one change lanes with no traffic around? It took a while to figure out how to disengage the system by pressing the button on the lower left side, an operation that must be repeated every time the engine is turned on. Also, on a modern sedan like Mazda6 the users should be able to open the trunk from the outside without using the key fob, especially because the car has a remote start so the fob can remain safely in the driver's pocket. Having tested Mazda6's competitors with only five speed manual gearboxes, a driver begins to appreciate the foresight of providing the sixth gear. The engine is quieter and the ride smoother, yet the four-cylinder, 2.5-liter engine with only 184 horses begs for another fifty or so ponies under the hood. The power band is elastic enough to allow for skipping gears. In stop-and-go traffic, crawling in third, with gentle application of the clutch, the transmission acts almost as an automatic. With the car loaded, however, the lack of power shows. Manual transmission has a hill assist feature. After the driver has pressed the brake on an incline the car will remain stationary for two seconds after the driver gets off the brake pedal to step on the gas. To the stick-shift purists, who believe that a heel-and-toe technique represents the only way to get going uphill, this feature may seem a waste of money. But the times change. If a clumsy Mazda6 driver slides into the car behind on a steep hill can the accident be called rear-ender? Front-ender perhaps? My friends Suzy, Gene and Annie are all over the Mazda6. They love modern design and are impressed with the size and the convenient features found inside and out. The seats are reasonably comfortable and the area in the rear has sufficient legroom. With a simple pull on two levers in the trunk the rear seats can be independently collapsed extending already spacious cargo space. A rear view camera is a welcome feature. Annie observes that she is tired of always hearing of an ubiquitous Asian automotive product. But there are doubters. Robert finds the front seats uncomfortable, and claims that he slides around on leatherette surfaces. He admits harboring personal prejudice against Mazda, and neither appealing design, not the plethora of handy features on this stunningly good looking sedan will dissuade him from claiming that this is just another typical Mazda with fluff. This sharp difference of opinion most likely arises because the Mazda6 design creates an expectation of something fast, sporty, and expensive. To keep the price within the pre-determined point, however, Mazda had to resort to cost-cutting measures. Only the driver seat adjustment is electric. The cable feeding power to the rear view mirror is covered in flimsy plastic. Nineteen-inch low profile Dunlops on polished five-spoke aluminum wheels handle the road well in most standard driving conditions. Should the driver try to turn Mazda6 into a road warrior, the limitations of the power and handling become readily apparent. In the light morning traffic zooming around at 75 mph feels like a racing adventure, adding excitement and adrenaline to a daily commute—not necessarily a bad thing. In heavy acceleration, despite front wheel drive the torque steer is minimal. Shifting Mazda 6 into lower gears makes the car zippy, but at the expense of stability in heavy braking especially on uneven surfaces. At 6000 rpm, the engine management system kicks in to prevent over-revving. The lack of netting in the trunk sends the lunch box rolling all over the flat trunk. And upon arrival, Mazda6 emits unpleasant smells of hot metal and burned rubber from its nether parts as if to say "you uncivilized brute." The 2014 Mazda6 is a great looking and eminently capable modern sedan within a very reasonable price range—as long as the driver understands the limitations and behaves in a reasonable manner. For those who can only find the satisfaction while enveloped in genuine leather and piloting some Italian-bread dominator of the autostrada, it's very simple. Just think of the Mazda6 full-sticker price as a modest down-payment. For more information about Mazda products, go to www.mazdausa.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2014 Mazda6 I Touring Price: $23,445.00 (base): $24,710.00 (as tested) EPA fuel economy rating: 25 mpg city/37 mpg highway Engine type: 2.5-liter, inline, four cylinder, double overhead camshaft gasoline Skyactiv engine. Horsepower: 184 @ 5700 rpm Torque: 185 pound-feet @ 3250 rpm Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Transmission type: Six speed manual transmission Steering: Rack and pinion, electric, speed-sensing power assist Suspension Front: MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar Rear: Multi-link with stabilizer bar Wheels and tires: Dunlop SP Sport P225/45 R 19 W tires. Brakes Front: 11.7 inch discs Rear: 10.9 inch discs Dimensions Length: 191.5 inches Width: 72.4 inches Height: 57.1 inches Curb weight: 3232 pounds