2018 Mazda6 Now With Turbo, A Review By Larry Nutson
Now with a Turbo!
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
This might just be a perfect road trip car. The “this” is the 2018 Mazda6 sedan that now is available with a new turbocharged 2.5-L 4 cylinder which pumps out 250 Horsepower.
And, as it just so happened, I had a road trip in the plan. A mid-June weekend trek together with my wife from Chicago to Southeast Michigan for a family affair was on the calendar. The drive is mostly interstate highway with light semi-truck traffic on weekends that should make for good highway cruising.
My last Mazda6 review drive was the 2016 model, so I was looking forward to experience the updates, especially the new higher performance engine.
Notwithstanding the popularity of SUVs, there is still a market for a good sedan.
The Mazda6 has always provided a more unique and fun-to-drive experience in the midsize sedan segment where you often find a simply mundane sedan.
With the 2018 Mazda6 a goal was to enhance Mazda’s well-known driving performance with a quieter, more comfortable ride. This to offer a more compelling midsize sedan that can compete with others in a segment often found at much higher prices.
On the outside the Mazda6 has a new face with a revised grille design and LED headlights with integrated fog lights on all models. Inside there are new seats featuring vibration absorbing urethane foam. Heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel—at long last, are available.
The interior is very rich with Nappa leather, UltraSuede and Japanese Sen wood. A Bose 11-speaker sound system provides concert hall listening.
Under the skin a thicker steel in the floor provides better sound abatement, and the suspension has been completely re-engineered for better driving experience and greater refinement.
The model range has been expanded to include Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, and adding new Grand Touring Reserve and Signature trim levels.
Sport and Touring models feature a 187-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, that now uses cylinder-deactivation technology for improved fuel economy. A six-speed automatic connects to the drive wheels, and on the Sport you can opt for a 6-speed manual. EPA test-cycle ratings are 29 mpg combined, with 26 city mpg and 33 highway mpg for the automatic. The manual is 2 mpg lower in both city and highway ratings.
Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature models get the new turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. Engine software of today allows for calibration changes that affect horsepower. On premium 93 octane gasoline this engine develops 250 horsepower and a reduced 227 horsepower on regular 87 octane. A 6-speed automatic transmission is also used with this engine. EPA test-cycle ratings are 26 mpg combined, with 23 city mpg and 31 highway mpg.
For my road drive trip I was behind the wheel of the top-of-the-line Signature model. Even with my spirited highway driving I matched the 31 mpg highway rating in one direction and exceeded it at 33 mpg on my return.
Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support system is now standard. This system automatically applies the brakes to avoid collisions at speeds below 20 mph.
Full-speed Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go function and High Beam Control are standard on Touring models and up.
Signature models have a reconfigurable 7.0-inch gauge display and a new 360-degree surround view monitor with front and rear parking sensors.
Pricing on the 2018 Mazda6 ranges from $21,950 for the Sport to $34,750 for the Signature.
Mazda6 also receives standard G-Vectoring Control, a Mazda-exclusive technology that makes steering response more direct and linear by using a minute reduction of engine torque at turn-in to put extra weight on the front tires.
The chassis has also been revised to provide a more supple ride, greater agility and dramatically improved NVH.
The Mazda6 is very nimble. It’s fun to drive and nicely responsive. Zero to 60 mph is in the low 6-second range. The 310 lb-ft of torque delivers spirited acceleration and highway merging. On our nice long highway drive we found the interior noise levels to be low with minimal tire and wind noise. The 45-series tires on the Signature pick up a few more road imperfections but not to a point of being uncomfortable. Freeway cloverleaf on and off ramps are easily negotiated even with a bit more throttle than average.
The sport seats delivered good support and overall comfort. After a couple hours behind the wheel there is no sense of fatigue or discomfort.
The front-wheel drive Mazda6 is not offered with all-wheel drive. I don’t think that’s a big deal. If you live in a part of the country with frequent cold and snow in the winter months, a good set of winter tires might be the better choice since they also not only aid in acceleration, but also in stopping and steering.
More information, specifications and detail on the 2018 Mazda6 can be found at www.mazdausa.com. Mazda has upped its game with the new 6. It’s worth a detailed look at what you get on the top models that makes it a viable consideration against other higher priced sedans.
Many auto pundits describe the Mazda6 as athletic, and rightly so. It’s fun to drive while also providing room for five and decent trunk space. It’s a great fit for a family that doesn’t really need two SUVs.
The Mazda6 will put a smile on your face and turn a few heads as you make your way through the neighborhood.
For the first half of 2018 overall Mazda sales are up 14 percent and Mazda6 sales in June were up nearly 36 percent. It seems some people are out to have fun behind the wheel.
© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy