The decision: Enjoyable to drive, nice to take a look at and tough to make use of, the Mazda6 is a improbable automotive that’s let down by really terrible multimedia controls.
Versus the competitors: It feels tighter inside than a few of its rivals, however the Mazda6 is undeniably extra participating and entertaining to drive. But whereas it’s additionally blessed with a nicer inside, its multimedia technique prevents it from being aggressive with the newest and best sedans available on the market.
The mid-size sedan class continues to shrink as patrons favor costlier and spacious mid-size SUVs, however that doesn’t imply there aren’t nonetheless patrons on the market who don’t want or need to sit up excessive in a pretend truck. For them, Mazda forges forward with its mid-size household sedan, the Mazda6.
For 2021, the Mazda6 will get a brand new Carbon Version trim degree that amps up its already svelte seems with some extra visible tweaks. The competitors is as fierce because it’s ever been, although — maybe much more so now that the section’s pool of patrons has shrunk year-over-year. Can the addition of a enjoyable trim package deal hold the Mazda6 within the working?
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No Scarcity of Fashion
One benefit the Mazda6 has all the time had over its rivals is its seems. The 2021 Mazda6 is the best-looking mid-size sedan Mazda has ever made, and it’s a rattling sight prettier than any of its rivals. The automotive’s newest styling replace has solely made it extra interesting, with low, swooping fender strains and aggressive cat-eye headlights that evoke comparisons to Jaguars and basic Alfa Romeos — two manufacturers in a category properly above the one the place Mazda performs.
There’s no nameless, generic family-sedan styling right here; Mazda is carving out a distinct segment for sedan patrons who need greater than only a transportation equipment. The Mazda6 stands in stark distinction to the odd strains of the newest Honda Accord, the bizarrely fish-faced Toyota Camry and the totally generic Nissan Altima and Subaru Legacy. The Carbon Version provides a bit of extra zoot to the strains, with black metallic-finish 19-inch wheels and tires, a gloss-black rear lip spoiler and door mirrors, and just one paint alternative: Polymetal Grey.
Your Sportiest Different?
Different manufacturers have sporty variations of their mid-size household sedans, however few stay as much as their guarantees. The Toyota Camry TRD seems aggressive and handles properly, nevertheless it falls brief within the powertrain and braking division. Honda’s large Accord is similar; it seems prefer it must be enjoyable, however its measurement and softness finally betray any sporting intentions. Not so the Mazda6: Its mixture of chassis refinement, mild and nimble dealing with, and a fully dynamite turbocharged powertrain mix to make it the driving fanatic’s alternative on this class.
The Mazda6 Carbon Version is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque in the event you fill it with 93-octane gasoline. These figures drop to 227 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque with common 87-octane gasoline, which drops it decrease than its rivals. The Hyundai Sonata N Line, for instance, will get 290 hp from its 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder on common gasoline, whereas the Camry XLE’s non-compulsory V-6 hits 301 hp on 87 octane. The Carbon Version I drove should have been stuffed with the high-zoot juice, because the acceleration it generated was plentiful. The engine is mated to an computerized transmission with six speeds, which is a couple of gears wanting lots of automobiles as of late. That signifies that so as to obtain first rate gasoline financial system, the Mazda6 likes to remain in larger gears. It shifts down rapidly and eagerly when referred to as upon with minimal lag, nevertheless it received’t hold in these decrease gears lengthy except you’ve engaged Sport mode, which makes for a bit extra frenetic around-town cruising. Suffice it to say that retaining it in its regular modes is the way in which to go; shift into Sport mode solely while you plan on driving in a extra aggressive method.
You would possibly find yourself wanting to do this extra usually than you assume, although, particularly in the event you stay someplace with twisty roads. The automotive is a hoot to toss round, with mild, direct steering that gives first rate suggestions, plus a responsive powertrain that’s all the time pleased to play — and none of that’s compromised by a trip that’s too stiff or overly sporty. Steadiness is the secret right here, and the Mazda6 offers it in spades. The one darkish mark on its brilliant efficiency report card is its braking; pedal really feel is just too tender for a sporting-themed automotive like this. There’s little preliminary chunk, and whereas a agency press on the brake does sufficient to carry the automotive to a halt, there’s not a lot in the way in which of pedal suggestions. That makes issues really feel a bit mushy and fewer confidence-inspiring than I’d like. It’s sufficient to make you dial again your enthusiasm and hold your driving conduct in verify so that you don’t get into bother on a again street.
If you happen to get too proud of the throttle, your gasoline financial system is prone to really feel the pinch regardless of Mazda’s SkyActiv engine administration expertise. Gasoline financial system for the big-engined Mazda6 is EPA-rated at 23/31/26 mpg metropolis/freeway/mixed, and my week with the beast noticed it web 24.5 mpg — not surprising given the aggressive manner I normally drove it. Surprisingly, the Mazda’s official ranking is solidly within the hunt for a gasoline mileage prize proper together with vehicles that includes eight- and 10-speed computerized transmissions, together with the Honda Accord Sport (22/32/26 mpg), Hyundai Sonata N Line (23/33/27 mpg) and even the V-6 powered Toyota Camry TRD (22/31/25 mpg). Not like these vehicles, nonetheless, the Mazda6 has no hybrid variant. There’s a non-turbo mannequin that’s rated 26/35/29 mpg, however in the event you’re searching for big-time gasoline financial system within the vary of 40-50 mpg, you’ll have to buy a hybrid competitor.
Dynamically, there’s little to fault the Mazda6. Inside, nonetheless, is an enormous downside. There’s no subject with the inside supplies, that are top-notch, and kudos to Mazda for not being afraid to deploy some colour, as properly: The Carbon Version consists of deep burgundy-red leather-based hides on the seats and trim. The inside feels narrower than the cabins from Honda and Hyundai and its backseat legroom is on the tight facet (particularly in contrast with the limousine-like rear seats in a Volkswagen Passat), however Mazda did a great job assembly its aim of a near-premium surroundings that may chase the upper finish of the market. And there aren’t lots of controls to confuse you; Mazda retains button litter to a minimal and graces you with clear, easy-to-read gauges as an alternative of a totally digital cluster.
No, there’s no criticism with the way it’s all put collectively — the deal-killer is the automotive’s totally insufficient multimedia system. It’s tough to make use of, backward-thinking in its operational technique and outdated. Maybe that appears a harsh verdict to render, however the Mazda6’s multimedia system is unhealthy sufficient to stop me from recommending this automotive.
What’s the large subject? You possibly can’t use the touchscreen whereas the automotive is in movement. If you wish to do something — like change the radio station or swap audio features — you must use a distant knob and five-way controller mounted low on the middle console between the entrance seats. So as an alternative of simply touching the factor you need on the display screen, which is up at eye degree, you must determine how you can discover what you need by way of a distant controller, including steps and distraction to the method. It’s completely daft and in want of an entire rethink — particularly in an age when Hyundai and Kia provide a number of the most wonderful, state-of-the-art multimedia expertise within the class. (Toyota and Honda nonetheless really feel a bit behind, as properly.) Even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are affected by this setup; in the event you don’t intend to make use of the system that a lot, it received’t be an enormous downside, however in the event you do, it’s a critical subject — even perhaps a security subject.
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Priced to Compete
As an automaker, Mazda has designs on punching above its weight class with lots of its automobiles, and it’s gone to nice lengths to enhance its interiors to mirror that. However even with its eyes set on loftier targets, it’s maintained extra mainstream, aggressive pricing. A fundamental 2021 Mazda6 Sport trim begins at $25,470 (all costs embrace vacation spot). The Carbon Version seen here’s a few rungs up the trim ladder, beginning at $33,945 however with out a lot additional in the way in which of choices — aside from equipment like all-weather floormats or mud guards — so properly geared up is the bottom mannequin. Including navigation will get you a $400 SD card that slots into the console and prompts the embedded system. There’s just one trim above the Carbon Version: Signature, which begins at $36,895 and consists of even nicer Nappa leather-based trim.
That sort of pricing places the Mazda6 Carbon Version squarely within the hunt for mid-size sedan patrons. It even is available in on the decrease facet of the sporty variants provided by competing automakers. Its mixture of driving enjoyable, upscale inside design and supplies, and a aggressive (if not precisely class-leading) inside area would make it a stable various for folks uninterested in the identical previous choices from Honda and Toyota … if it weren’t for its abysmal multimedia system. The system will damage the expertise for a lot of drivers; a automotive merely shouldn’t be so tough and inherently distracting to make use of. Till Mazda has a stable rethink about the way it approaches management of its onboard electronics and smartphone integration, my advice is to think about one other model.
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