Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L I4
Power:
184 HP / 185 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,183 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
14.8 CU-FT
MPG:
25 City / 37 HWY
In an automotive landscape dominated by platform sharing, technology exchange and any number of other cross-fertilization/cost-saving/amortization exercises, it's actually pretty rare that we get to drive a new car that is as "all-new" as this, the 2014 Mazda6. With brand-spanking new Skyactiv architecture throughout – engine, transmission, body and chassis all included – this 6 represents a new era of flexible production and cutting edge running gear for the happily lithe car company.

Our own Jonathon Ramsey did a cracking job of running the Mazda6 through its First Drive paces a few months ago, and sufficiently impressed upon us just how good looking a car this is for the midsize sedan segment. Suffice it to say, now, then, that this is easily the most interesting (and quite possibly the most beautiful) midsize sedan in the segment today. However, as Mr. Ramsey reviewed a fully contented example of the 6 – one equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission – we took advantage of Mazda's North American launch event of the car to suss out the base Mazda6 i Sport, complete with its six-speed Skyactiv manual gearbox. This may not shock you, but the stripper's pretty good, too.

Driving Notes
  • We'll get right down to the meat of it: The manual transmission is far better than the average do-it-yourself gearbox in this segment. Throws of the gearlever are light, short, and easy to put home with confidence. The clutch pedal, similarly, is very low-effort, but with a broad catch point that's simple to operate in every driving situation we encountered. This isn't a hewn-from-billet shifting experience, naturally, but it is a manual transmission that can be used with satisfaction in spirited driving, or mindlessly on the shopping run. The transmission is just perfectly suited to the power delivery of the smooth 2.5-liter motor, too.
  • The Sport trim car we tested had zero options – quite a rarity in the media fleet. Still, we found the cabin to be pretty accommodating and comfortable. The most noticeable interior bits on this base-level are the all-cloth seats and the old school head unit where the touchscreen display usually lives. The seats were fine – soft to the touch and seemingly resilient, with just a bit of gloss and texture to make them feel upscale without the cowhide. The head unit, meanwhile, while perfectly functional (and sure to be embraced by the Luddite set in our comments section), was both drab and old-fashioned looking. Naturally, the instrument panel was designed to accommodate a touchscreen – this is the 21st Century, after all – so its lack of one hampers the design. For one thing, the lack of color and brightness afforded by the display makes the dash look sort of dark and dreary by comparison.
  • So, just how inexpensive is the base model Mazda6 i Sport? The literal answer is $21,675 after the $795 destination fee has been added on. That's pretty good, we thought. The relative answer is, of course, slightly more complicated. In a tooth-and-nail segment like this one, you'd expect pricing among the heavyweight players to be very close, and it is. Still, the new 6 is almost the class-leader. Comparing optionless, base-model MSRPs, plus destination charges, we find this: Toyota Camry is $23,030, Nissan Altima is $22,550, Honda Accord is $22,470 and Ford Fusion is $22,245. Volkswagen's most basic Passat is just $21,640 though – about a night at the movies with your wife (not the kids) cheaper than the Mazda.
  • Mazda is in zero danger of loosing its ballyhooed Zoom-Zoom appeal with this 6 – the handling experience is impressive. While we were perhaps a bit less bullish about the car's nimbleness on our test drive through some very hilly, winding Texas Hill Country roads than when cruising through the French countryside (again, see our First Drive), we still found the thing to be pretty tossable. Reactions to steering inputs, especially, were impressively fast for a car this big and long. The steering experience itself was a bit weightless, with not enough of a transition from on-lock to off-lock feeling of heft, but still very accurate and easy to modulate in a quick corner. Suspension response was admirable, too, on fast switchbacks. For all of that, the cruising ride didn't suffer, though road and tire noise on the freeway was higher than we'd like.
  • Mazda will doubtlessly sell a lot of examples of this new Mazda6 based on its stunning sheetmetal and high levels of content in the middle/upper trims. Good to know that the base car is still pretty sweet then; and still a pleasantly differentiated product in a segment filled with one-upmanship.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 155 Comments
      rsxvue
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really like how the base model doesn't look like a "base model" -- it comes nicely equipped and the interior doesn't look like it has missing knobs and buttons, the wheels are actually alloys which are better than steelies that most entry level cars come with. The the cloth seats look plenty nice too! I'm usually a mid/top trim level kind of guy but I like this base model.
        BG
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rsxvue
        In reality, there is nothing wrong with steel wheels. They have a lot of advantages over poor-quality (read off-brand, blingy) alloys.
      Classic_Engr
      • 1 Year Ago
      There was one specification that I found more impressive than even the SkyActive engine with 13:1 compression ratio and direct injection, their I-Eloop brake energy regeneration, their efficient 6-speed automatic with a large clutch and mini low-mass torque converter, and their proposed 38mpg highway. It was the remarkable curb weight for a car with this much interior room and trunk space: Just 3,183lbs for the base Sport mode with a manual and 3,232lbs for the Grand Touring Model with the automatic thanks to their all new high-strength steel alloy unibody chassis. That is incredible. I had a chance to preview this car in person recently at Mazda headquarters through a SEMA event. With the right sales and marketing strategy, Mazda could have a title-fight winner on their hands. Fit, finish, and quality seemed to be at or above everything in its segment. The elegantly aggressive front end styling and profile will more than make up for the unoriginal but acceptable rear facia styling and is certainly more evocative than anything that the Toyota or even Lexus vanilla design committees has released lately. Now add the usual Mazda steering feel and handling with a now smoother highway ride and you'd be silly not to consider this car if you're shopping in this segment. I'm looking forward to the station wagon if it ever comes here, and their diesel engine. Only 14:1 compression rato. That's interesting...
      rem
      • 1 Year Ago
      While that headunit does look pretty ridiculous - it's actually extremely nice that they used the same dash design as with the nav unit. This makes it much more conducive to aftermarket nav systems, especially since it appears to be a double-din opening.
        F_Monk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rem
        I don't think it looks ridiculous at all...but I drive a late-nineties commuter shitbox with an aftermarket Sony head unit, and a Wrangler. I'm not used to nice things.
        Stephen D.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rem
        for only a few hundred dollars, you can get the accessory OEM navigation system from the dealer and get the same unit found in the Touring & Grand Touring models.
          rem
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Stephen D.
          Nice to see that's an option - it was initially disappointing to think you couldn't get the manual transmission with a nav system. Price is $560, which is more than 'a few' hundred imo, but quite competitive with most aftermarket nav systems and probably the best bet for the car.
          rem
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Stephen D.
          Upon further inspection - the nav accessory is ONLY available if you already have a touch-screen. Touring models and above appear to have this as standard, but it is not available on the sport, so you're still stuck with aftermarket.
      Stephen D.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Mazda6 configurator is now live! www.mazdausa.com/mazda6
      brgtlm
      • 1 Year Ago
      Losing is spelled "losing" and not "loosing." Are we not teaching this in school anymore? Everyone is doing it! Wishing Mazda great success with this 6. They really need to hit good sales numbers since they are not in the best shape financially. Save the nice but derivative rear end (everyone has similar tail lights and that chrome strip), it is a great looking car right up with the Fusion and Optima as the top 3 best-looking mainstream midsize sedans. I don't think the interior is as interesting as the exterior design wise, but I'm glad the reviews say the materials are up to snuff. That has always been a Mazda failing and glad they are trying to rectify that. I personally think the base stereo head unit looks fine. I think it is looks extremely ergonomic and functional. Have you seen some of the zero knob button fest stereos they put in some cars nowadays? I think the standard Scion stereo is a good example of bad GUI. Wishing good zoom zoom karma on this 6 - since the last one was nearly devoid of any personality.
      Stuka
      • 1 Year Ago
      Love the car, hopefully it does well for Mazda. The article itself however really needs to be proof read before being posted.
      BG
      • 1 Year Ago
      6-speed manual and decent handling? Good for you, Mazda! It's nice to see one mass-market company trying to cater to serious drivers, rather then dumbing down to the lowest common mass-market denominator.
      Driver3
      • 1 Year Ago
      At the 24 hours of Daytona, Mazda had a static display set-up in the infield and also had a test drive set-up behind the back straight stands in the parking lot, kind of like a small autocross track. After signing a waiver and doing a breathalyzer, you could drive a brand new 6 with slicks, no less, for a few laps. Interesting test drive. No salesman, just a driving instructor from Skip Barber Driving School offering tips. Well worth the half an hour investment. Car is beautiful and handles great, too. The car was a loaded Grand Touring with paddle shift auto. Plenty quick, too, for the short track.
      Trent
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have been getting new company cars each year now for over 20 years and there is a lot to like here. I own the Azera now but will be looking closely at the new Fusion and the Mazda 6 this next round. There is so much value in this segment that I feel I can save some cash and not lose out on many of the features I have come grown attached to the most. Nice work Mazda and it going to be an exciting year for you guys with all of the new offerings.
        Scr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Trent
        You should check out the new Azera. Holy sh*t is that a nice car! Leaps ahead of what is was and it makes the Mazda look like a tractor.
      Mazdafreak
      • 1 Year Ago
      Man, this is a great car, but I wish they would offer the manual on a higher trim level that just the Sport.
        BG
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdafreak
        A few intelligent people would agree with you, but sadly, only a a very small number would sell in the US.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mazdafreak
        Beginning in Q2, the manual will be available on the Touring (middle) trim.
      Egon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks like a pretty strong entry in the midsize segment. More than anything though, I'm just glad to see Mazda take a step back from the bat-sh!t-crazy-grin design language that had been polluting their lineup for the past few years.
      Ok
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder is there is any chance of them offering this 184 hp 2.5L in the Mazda3? Probably not I'd guess.
        NightFlight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ok
        We'll see it in the next generation....
        David Moore
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ok
        Probably next Gen, sure.
        BC
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ok
        Actually, if the Mazda3 continues to come in i and s trim, this engine is the logical successor to the Duratec 2.5l in the latter. Doesn't mean it will happen, though, now that the i has the 2.0l SkyActiv and a Grand Touring trim level I think the s sales have slumped drastically.
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