2014 Mazda6 i Touring Long-Term Arrival
We're doing something a bit different with our long-term loan of the Mazda6. Mazda North America Operations agreed to give us a two-fer for the year: Six months in mid-grade Mazda6i Touring, equipped with a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder and six-speed manual trans. After six months, we'll swap into the Mazda6 Grand Touring, with the same engine, a six-speed automatic, and loads more kit.
Our 6i Touring rang up at $24,540, of which $300 was the gorgeous Soul Red paint job. Given the level of standard kit, it feels like a pretty fantastic deal. Sharp-looking 19-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, push-button start, six-way power adjustable driver's seat, and dual zone climate control are a few of the features I noted when I first sat down. There is even a full color 5.8-inch touch-screen display with a BMW iDrive-ish infotainment system, with Bluetooth connectivity, HD radio, Pandora, and nav. Oh, wait, pressing either of the two nav buttons doesn't actually do anything, as navigation isn't available on manual transmission Touring models, but is available in the $2000 technology package if you buy the automatic. Still, smartphone apps such as Waze and Google maps sync via Bluetooth and provide turn-by-turn directions through the audio system. Another handy feature is the Pandora integration -- once synced and controlled via the head unit, your favorite songs and artists play commercial-free, since ads are displayed only on your smartphone screen. Those with unlimited data plans, rejoice.
"What sports car feature does my new long-term Mazda6 have that's unavailable on the Nissan GT-R? A six-speed manual transmission. #booya"
Though my last-long termer was the indomitable Nissan GT-R, transitioning to the Mazda6 isn't the underwhelming jolt you might expect. Sure, the scalp-peeling acceleration and neck-breaking grip are gone, but in their place is a willing, if not thrilling, chassis that likes to be pushed.
In line with other Mazda products that put handling ahead of brute force, the 184-hp Mazda6 is a momentum car. It takes time to get to speed -- 0-60 takes a languid but class-competitive 7.8 seconds, and the quarter mile arrives in 15.9 seconds at 89.4 mph. It carries itself well through corners, though limits are low, thanks to tires that seem to emphasize 37-mpg highway fuel economy (via low-rolling-resistance) over outright grip.
The Mazda6 has always been a staff favorite, but hasn’t achieved the mainstream popularity of the Camry and Accord. How much of that has to with the product is up for debate; and in the latest generation, the 6 makes a strong first impression. It’s the slinkiest, sexiest 6 ever, arguably the most handsome of the midsize family sedan segment. It seems to finally have the right size and equipment on offer, too. Will it be enough to win us and you over? We have 12 months, two cars, and many miles to figure that out.
|2014 Mazda6 i Touring|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$24,540|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.5L/184-hp/185-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3142 lb (58/42%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||191.5 x 72.4 x 57.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.8 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.9 sec @ 89.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||120 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.85 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.4 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||25/37 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||135/91 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.66 lb/mile|