2014 Mazda6 i Touring Long-Term Update 3
During one of my recent stints out of town, I loaned our Mazda6 to Motor Trend's video crew in support of an Ansel Adams photo project sponsored by Lexus. The "Chasing Light" project connected our team with John Sexton, Adams' longtime assistant, and took them all on a journey to visit the legendary photographer's favorite shooting spots throughout California.
After a 1400-plus-mile road trip to Death Valley, Lone Pine, Yosemite, Carmel Valley, and back to HQ in El Segundo, staff photographer Brian Vance, an admitted BMW homer, gushed about our Mazda6 Sport: "I love this car…awesome steering, shifter, nimbleness, and power make it such a joy. I'd consider buying one exactly as is. It is a better choice then a manual Accord or Fusion, beats the heck out of Camry, Sonata, and is much more fun then Passat. The awesome driving dynamics make it feel much greater than the sum of its part. It feels like they approach the ride, handling, and power delivery with the same philosophy as BMW does with the 3 Series. I'm not saying it feels like 3, I'm saying it feels like it's engineered by the same guys that engineer the 3."
Brian also reported that during the long trip, the '6's needs were less than other support vehicles. "As the SUVs in the convoy guzzled fuel, the Mazda 6 sipped and sipped; at times we would skip the group fill-up because it just wasn't needed."
Cargo capacity was also given due credit. With the rear seats folded down, "the Mazda6 was able to easily swallow up a sound kit, cooler, heavy-duty video camera slider, and slider tripod."
Ear-ringing endorsements came from another driver of the car, the freelance sound engineer, who, according to Brian, "was blasting heavy, heavy death metal through the speakers and commenting how much he liked the sound system."
While it has been mostly wine and roses with the Mazda6 since its arrival, one significant issue put a wrinkle in our overall plan. We stated in our Mazda6 introduction that somewhere close to the midpoint of the loan, we'd be swapping the petrol-powered '6 for a diesel version, which was set to arrive late in 2013. In September, Mazda announced that the diesel variant would be delayed until spring 2014. Then in January, the company announced another delay with no timeline for launch provided.
The issue seems to be that Mazda engineers are struggling to find the right balance of performance and fuel economy in the 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine. Mazda North America CEO Jim O'Sullivan told our colleagues at Automobile Magazine, "We didn't think the powertrain was 'zoom-zoom' enough."
Looks like it's back to the drawing board for Mazda, which is OK by us, for now.
More on our long-term 2014 Mazda6 i Touring:
|Service life||16,799 mi|
|Average fuel economy||27.3 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||0.71 lb/mi|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ||25/37/29 mpg|
|Energy consumption||123 kW-hr/100mi|
|Maintenance cost||$82.35 (1 - oil change, tire rotation, inspection)|