2021 Mazda6 Signature – Review by David Colman
A delightful sedan to drive
Photos and Story By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
At present, family sedans seem to be a dying breed. VW recently announced that the familiar Passat will be discontinued after the 2022 model year. Suffering even more immediate termination is the Mazda6, which will end production at the conclusion of 2021. This finely designed piece of transportation has been produced and updated since 2014. The 2021 model we recently tested proved the design is still viable, but its sales figures indicate otherwise. Nonetheless, the incipient demise of the model suggests that buyer favorable transactions may be available until stocks are depleted. The top level Signature Mazda6 we tested retailed for $35,750. With an extra $495 for Machine Gray Metallic Paint, $100 for a carpeted cargo mat, and $945 for dealer delivery, bottom line for this endgame Mazda6 totaled $37,290. In the larger scheme of things, that amount is money well invested, because the Mazda6 Signature is still a delightful sedan to drive.
Two different engines power the low and high end versions of the range. Base level models utilize a 187hp 2.5 liter four making 187hp. That limited power does the 3,405lb. sedan no favors, with performance lagging due to a power-to-weight (P/W) ratio of 18.2lb/hp. However, the 227hp turbocharged version powering our 3,538lb. test car improves the P/W ratio to a much more lively number - 15.58lb/hp. If you feed your Mazda premium fuel, the horsepower jumps by 23 to 250hp and the P/W drops again, to a scintillating 14.15. Better still, the 2.5 turbo makes a healthy 320lb.-ft. of torque at just 2500rpm, a gain of 10lb/ft for 2021. With judicious use of the paddles controlling the 6-speed automatic gearbox, the Signature 6 will cut a 6.3 second time in the 0-60mph sprint, and run the standing start quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 97mph. Top speed is 149mph, a figure that attests to this sedan's low coefficient of drag and excellent streamlining.
Handling has always been a strong suit for Mazda products, and the responsiveness of the Mazda6 is representative of this model's lineage and breeding. The first thing you notice behind the wheel is the precision of the electric power-assisted steering mechanism. Unlike so many companies who can't seem to get this right, no matter how many "Sport" driving modes they offer, Mazda has steering feel down pat, no matter which drive mode you've selected. Knowing precisely where your front wheels are positioned at all times is a feedback achievement Mazda shares with only one other car company. That other company would be Porsche.
Abetting the information flow from the front wheels are healthy contact patches at each corner. The Signature wears satin pinwheel design alloy rims shod with Falken Ziex ZE001 radials (225/45R19) chosen for their combination of cornering grip and silent running at speed. The Mazda6 is such a well balanced package that you would be hard pressed to determine that it's a front wheel drive design. We never experienced any of the torque steer or steering wheel snatch that typically results from a high horsepower FWD configuration. The Signature, with fully independent front and rear suspension, and stout anti-sway bars at each end, remained well mannered and eminently controllable when put to the test on challenging back roads. With its supportive Nappa leather trimmed parchment sports seats anchoring us to the rigid chassis, this Mazda proved its mettle as a sports sedan. Thankfully, Mazda has eliminated the usual sports identifiers from the mix here. You'll find no phony carbon fiber inserts in the dash or on the doors, none of the currently popular black-out badging on the tail or flanks, and best of all, no tacked-on spoilers front or rear.
We did, however, encounter one annoying livability issue with the Signature. It wants to lock you out of it whenever you walk away. That's fine if you're done driving and leaving for an extended period. But if you're unloading 4 bags of groceries while having to deal with the constant need to unlock doors you didn't lock yourself, the routine quickly becomes irritating. It can also become terminally annoying if you leave your key inside the cabin and walk away, because the car will then lock your key in and you out! I didn't believe this absurd idiosyncrasy could be possible until reading a warning about it in the owner's manual.
The foregoing scenario reminds of when the HAL 2000 supercomputer locked Keir Dullea out of his space capsule in 2001: A Space Odyssey. So while we enjoyed our time driving this last and best Mazda6, maybe this model's time has come after all.
2021 MAZDA6 SIGNATURE
ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline 4, turbocharged and intercooled, DOHC, 16 valve, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 23MPG City/31MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $37,290
HYPES: An FWD that drives like a RWD
GRIPES: Auto Lock Will Drive You Nuts
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10