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by Tony West and Bill P.
The redesigned Mazda6 offers two new trims and a wealth of enhanced powertrain and safety features. Most of the changes made to the mid-size sedan make it more stylish and fine tune powertrain dynamics. Others fail at an attempt to make the Mazda6 a ‘family’ sports car.
The Mazda6 has always been appealing to young and old, professional and adventurer. With an outstandingly efficient Skyactiv four-cylinder engine and a leather-clad interior, the Mazda6 gives a lot at a low price. For 2019, designers gutted the whip and refined the powerful Skyactiv-G 2.5T turbo engine on the Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve and the all new Mazda6 Signature.
The Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve and Mazda6 Signature trims add an elevated level of sophistication with features like Ultra Suede NU and Japanese Sen Wood, new ventilated front seats, a new 7.0 inch digital dash and full-color active driving display.
We reviewed the 2019 Mazda6 Signature last fall, and while we appreciated most of the new features, Editor Sommer couldn’t help but reminisce about previous models that optimized premium comfort and efficiency over athleticism.
Striking Design with Subtle Aerodynamics
Designers aimed to elevate the 2018/19 Mazda6 to be a more competitive sporty luxury sedan, revitalizing its original elegance and passion. The 2019 Mazda6 is offered in a base Sport, Touring, Grand Touring and an all-new Grand Touring Reserve and top-of-the-line Signature models. Eight colors are available including Machine Gray Metallic and brand new Soul Red Crystal Metallic.
Seventeen-inch wheels are standard on the base Mazda6 Sport. While 19 inch alloy wheels are standard on the Grand Touring Reserve and the Mazda6 Signature. LED lighting is standard on all models including LED headlights, integrated fog lamps, LED combination tail lights and front and rear turn lamps. Adaptive Front Lighting is standard on the Signature model. The Mazda6 Signature also offers a moon roof, standard heated side mirrors and new parking sensors in the front and rear.
Approaching the 2019 Mazda6 the new liquid red paint job, big wheels and gunmetal grille catch the eye. The wider grille protrudes a bit forward with a mesh that looks 3D in motion. The smizing 3D grille is flanked by a front spoiler and chrome accents. The hood is chiseled with two muscle lines along the edge, and heated power side mirrors have a sharpened edge to enhance aerodynamics.
That with another muscle crease along the lower side all give the new Mazda6 elevated athleticism. As with previous models, the A, B and C-Pillars have stylish chrome trim. And the shorter C-Pillar gives the new Mazda6 a slung-back profile.
The cabin of the new Mazda6 is stepped up with bigger and better luxury and technology. Nappa Leather trimmed sport seats are wider with high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam that’s firmer. Editor Sommer prefers the softer Nappa Leather seats of previous models that soak the driver in. New seats are less forgiving but keep the driver cushioned during extended driving. The only design features carried over from previous models is the steering wheel and a few minor features.
On the Mazda6 Signature, Sen Wood, and Ultra Suede NU adorn the doors, seats and dash. The new dash of the Mazda6 is stretched across the fascia, wrapped with stitched leather and pushed back to create subtle sophistication. The leather shifter, rotary commander and dynamic controls have a brushed metal finish as does the steering wheel. Drivers and passengers have an 8-way heated and ventilated seat.
A customizable 7 inch TFT gauge display shows driving stats like current mpg’s, range, and average fuel economy along with display settings for safety tech like the blind spot monitor, lane keeping assist system, lane departure warning, and distance recognition support system.
The frameless rearview mirror, clean dash and corrugated door to the center storage keeps the center area clean, which gives more space to the front passengers. The rear windshield is raked and seems to limit visibility. Soft LED ambient light is easy on the eyes driving at night.
Drivers have a new active driving display that Mazda is touting as its most advanced yet. But they may have taken the tech too far with this version. The full-color heads-up-display shows a ton of info including stop sign icons, the speed limit, and safety warnings for the blind spot monitor and lane departure alert all at the same time. With just the speed limit, navigation and road sign information showing the active driving display is very helpful. But safety features are redundant projected on the small piece of glass. The redundant blind spot monitor warning is as annoying as the forward collision alert because both show in other places. When Sommer tried to disable some of the active driving display’s features, it would default on when she got back in the car.
A center 8 inch touchscreen houses Mazda Connect infotainment, detailed navigation and 360-degree View Monitor with rear parking sensors. A wealth of customizations are available via the touchscreen for safety, climate, comfort and navigation features. Check out the video!
A Bose 11-speaker sound system is standard on the Mazda6 Signature.
Rigid Athletic Performance with Higher Safety Technology
With a more rigid chassis the Mazda6 tries to be a sportier sedan while maintaining high efficiency. The Mazda6 chassis has been thoroughly revised to provide a supple ride, greater agility and dramatically improved NVH.
A familiar 2.5 liter 4-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engine boasts 187 horsepower (at 6,000 rpm), 186 lb-ft of torque (at 4,000 rpm) and standard cylinder deactivation. Cylinder deactivation, the most innovative efficiency tech to be born from Mazda’s Skyactiv engineering, will seamlessly shut down two of the four cylinders at speeds between 25 and 50 mph. A centrifugal pendulum helps negate any vibration felt from the trans as the whip runs on two cylinders.
A standard Skyactiv-MT six-speed manual transmission is standard with Skyactiv-G four-cylinder on the Mazda6 Sport. For 2019 a new turbocharged Skyactiv 2.5T four-cylinder engine is offered on the Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models with 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm. Mazda’s industry-first Dynamic Pressure Turbo builds boost nearly instantaneously using a small inlet port to force air into its turbocharger. The refined six-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission is matched to the turbocharged 2.5T with paddle shifters.
All new standard G-vectoring Control, a Mazda exclusive technology makes steering more linear by putting a small amount of weight on the front tires at necessary turning.
The 2019 Mazda6’s performance with all the bells and whistles of with the Signature model isn’t a superbly sporty sedan, but it has refined athleticism and amazing efficiency. Previous models had the benefits of Skyactiv engineering with a more relaxed efficient performance.
The 2019 Mazda6 is more rigid, less forgiving and more dynamic in sport mode. The Mazda6 Signature is fitted with standard independent front and rear suspension refined for a more linear ride and more dynamic handling. But the ride is harsher, especially with the cushion lacking in the new sports seats.
The Mazda6 is swift, able to bob and dip in traffic at high and low speeds. But the whip rides heavy, and doesn’t give the lightweight agility from previous models. Where previous models had a drivetrain with a GT sort of athleticism, the Mazda6 Signature is more planted, driving more engaging and reserved throttle power deeper. Four-wheel disc brakes and electric power assisted steering is standard on the front-wheel drive Mazda6 Signature.
Sport mode is more thrilling in the new Mazda6, with more responsive steering, aggressive acceleration and tighter suspension.
The best part about whipping the Mazda6 is the fact that drivers never see the pump. The whip boasts a 31 mpg highway fuel economy (26 mpg combined / 23 mpg city).
Standard safety features are abundant on the Mazda6 Signature, most of which make the whip even more worthwhile. Safety tech like Smart City Brake Support is now standard on all Mazda6 models. Smart Brake Support, full speed Mazda Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go and High Beam Control is optional in the base Mazda6 Sport, and standard on the Mazda6 Signature. The Mazda6 Signature also offers standard lane departure warning, lane keep assist, hill launch assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear obstruction detection, a forward sensing camera and the innovative Traffic Sign Recognition System.
Some of the refined safety features in the Mazda6 can be annoying. The blind spot monitor beeps loudly for cars two lanes away, even for cars approaching across the divider. And it’s hard to clear the blind spot monitor from the active driving display. The rearview cam is great, except for the fact that it stays up a full 30 seconds after pulling off.
For the first time, the innovative active driving display does more harm than good. With icons for the blind spot monitor and the lane departure popping up constantly alongside the speed limit (with “mph” included) the active driving display is cluttered. And all those with the forward collision icons are a total distraction. A better approach would be to let the drivers feel the safety features and not be constantly notified as to when they are activating.
The 2019 Mazda6 Sport starts at just $23,000. The $34k Mazda6 Signature is nearly fully-loaded, competing well with the Ford Fusion and the Toyota Camry. But the mid-size sedan segment is growing more competitive with whips from Kia and others. And luxury brands like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz are releasing affordable sedans too. The Mazda6 is one of the stars of the brand, but time will tell if 2019’s more aggressive design will keep sales agressive in the future.