2014 Mazda6 i Touring Long-Term Verdict
If you flip back to the December 2013 issue and the start of our Mazda6's long-term loan, you'll see that our initial plan was to spend six months in the mid-grade, 6 i Touring model, equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, before switching to the higher trim Grand Touring model with a six-speed automatic transmission and more premium goodies -- including, we hoped, Mazda's new Skyactiv diesel.
The second part of this plan never materialized, because while Mazda has had tremendous success racing its diesel-powered Mazda6 in IMSA's Grand Am series (where it won the GX-class championship), it has yet to bring the production Skyactiv-D diesel engine to the U.S. in anything other than race cars. We didn't let this minor hiccup slow us down; we soldiered on quite happily with the manual Mazda6 and piled on a respectable 24,316 miles before turning it back in.
Over those miles, the '6 returned 28.1 miles per gallon and 29.0 on our Real MPG combined city/highway cycle. Both are pretty good, considering the EPA estimates 29 mpg on the combined cycle and our vehicle spent the majority of its time sprinting around the cities of El Segundo, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach -- usually with a surfboard wedged inside its capacious trunk. In terms of wear and tear, the '6 never missed a beat; any damage to it or our wallets was editor-inflicted. We accidentally skipped the first of three recommended oil changes, but the '6 demonstrated no ill effects. We mangled a front strut bearing with a racetrack shunt, but one day and $184.53 later, she was not just as good as new, she was as good as boring.
Unless you're a vintage car collector, boring is exactly what you deserve in the new vehicle ownership experience. Who needs the thrill of calling your local tow-truck operator or the excitement of a recall notice? We don't, and thankfully never had to experience either, though Mazda6s built between October 25, 2012, and May 9, 2013, were subject to Mazda recall number 7414D covering a fuel tank issue.
This isn't to say driving the Mazda6 was boring -- far from it. In fact, we say it's impossible to find another, similarly equipped family sedan as fun to drive as the Mazda6 -- primarily because there are so few remaining available with a manual transmission. (No family-sedan manual is better than the '6's.) And rowing your own is just part of the picture. But we've spent many updates praising the tossable nature of the '6; it's time for you hear about it from somebody else.
We don't often learn what happens to one of our long-term vehicles after it leaves our garage, but in the case of the Mazda6 i Touring, we know exactly what happened: It came back to our company parking lot, with our friendly IT guy, Will Sheppard, behind the wheel. We asked him a few questions:
MT: When and why did you decide to buy our long-term Mazda6?
WS: "The first time I saw it, it was backed in next to a BMW and a couple of other cars and I thought, 'Wow, that doesn't look like a Mazda at all.' I was talking to [road test editor] Scott and toying with the idea of getting a new car soon, but my budget was pretty limited. I told him what kind of money I was looking at and he said, 'You should look at the Mazda3 -- or even the '6.' That weekend, he had it available and he let me take it. And I fell in love with it."
MT: Why? What did you like about it?
WS: "I like the fact that it rides nice, but it still rides 'in touch' -- I mean I know I'm IT, but I like to drive; I am an enthusiastic driver. I was just floored with the fact that it's a nice-sized sedan that's still a manual. You can't find that anymore and I love to drive a manual transmission. It drives really nice; it's fun to drive. I think it could probably use about an extra 20 horsepower, but the gas mileage is real nice compensation. One weekend with it and I was in love. I brought it back and said, 'Scott, this one right here.' "
MT: You have had it now for just over a month. How is it? Have your feelings changed?
WS: "I still like it. I think it's great. If it had a sunroof [only available on the Grand Touring trim level] it would be perfect. The mileage is just ridiculous -- it really is. I go up often to see my girlfriend and my brother. On the way back from the first weekend I went up there in it, I filled it up in Fresno (California). By the time I got back to my home in Inglewood, I burned up a quarter tank of gas and it was telling me I was getting 38 miles to the gallon. And then I commuted to and from work for another week after that. The gas mileage is great.
"It's amazingly fun to drive. It rides real smooth for as well as it handles in corners. The styling is just fantastic. I'm not typically a four-door guy, but I figured I am pushing 50 and I'm supposed to grow up at some point. And this lets me grow up without growing up all the way."
More on our long-term 2014 Mazda6 i Touring:
|Price as Tested||$24,540|
|Service life||24,316 mi|
|Average fuel economy||28.1 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||0.69 lb/mi|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ||25/37/29 mpg|
|Energy consumption||120 kW-hrs/100mi|
|Maintenance cost||$178.96 (2- oil change, tire rotation, inspection)|
|2014 Mazda6 i Touring|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||I-4, aluminum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||151.8 cu in/2488 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||184 hp @ 5700 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||185 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||17.7 lb/hp|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||11.7-in vented disc; 10.9-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||7.5 x 19-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES||225/45R19 92W M+S Dunlop SP Sport 5000|
|TRACK, F/R||62.8/62.4 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||191.5 x 72.4 x 57.1 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||36.7 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3142 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST., F/R||58/42%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||38.4/37.1 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||42.2/38.7 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||57.1/55.5 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||14.8 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3.9|
|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)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||2250 rpm|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||16.4 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||25/37/29 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||135/91 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.66 lb/mile|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||26.5/32.7/29.0 mpg|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular|