This week, we’re driving our first 2015 tester of the year, namely the 2015 Mazda6. This stunner features a new design from front to rear, and then adds a comfortable cabin, 40-MPG highway and good acceleration thanks to an energetic four-cylinder Skyactiv powertrain.
The result? You’ll be driving a mid-size sedan that dubs as a sports car when you’re navigating a twisty country road yet still delivers “gas miser” capabilities thanks to Mazda’s high end tech features.
Our tester came in top grade Gran Touring trim, pushing the base price to $29,895 from the entry Sport’s impressive $20,880. A mid-level Touring model starts at $24,495, allowing consumers the best of all worlds.
Important is the fact that all Mazda6 models come with identical drivetrains, specifically Mazda’s now heralded Skyactiv combination that zeroes in on stronger, lightweight alloys and perfectly matched power assemblies. Featuring a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers 184 horses and 188 lb. ft. of torque, our tester also came with Mazda’s newly designed six-speed automatic built for acceleration and performance.
For those who like to shift, a six-speed manual is available with the Sport model, but all others rely on the automatic. Coming soon is a Mazda6 “Clean Diesel,” so stay tuned for even more good news from the famous “Zoom Zoom” automaker.
Our Mazda6 Gran Touring featured just about every comfort and safety convenience imaginable. Standard fare includes dual-zone climate, heated power front seats, leather interior, rear view camera, Bluetooth, USB, 5.8 inch NAV color touch screen, cross-traffic alert, 11-speaker Bose stereo, Smart City Brake Support, keyless start, paddle shifters, XM/Sirius satellite, power moonroof, high intensity headlamps, fog lamps and much more.
The only option of note is a $2,000 GT Technology Package, featuring radar cruise control, I-Eloop regenerative engine braking, high beam control, forward obstructive warning, lane departure warning and active front grille shutters. The I-Eloop (“intelligent energy loop”) is important, as it improves MPG by storing energy to a capacitor, which allows air-conditioning and other accessories to still work while the engine is shut down at a stop sign. Your dealer will fully explain how this system helps fuel economy.
This all leads us to Mazda6’s amazing fuel mileage. Our Mazda6 with I-Eloop delivered 28 city and 40 highway with the automatic, a most significant improvement compared to 2013, when Mazda6 delivered 21 and 30. Thus, in two short years, Mazda engineers added 10 mpg highway to the Skyactiv MPG equation, resulting in an official “Test Drive” pat on the back. If you buy a Mazda6 without I-Eloop, you’ll still get a most impressive 26/38.
If you can afford the $29K Gran Touring model, that’s great. If not, start with the entry Sport, add a few options, and you’re on the highway with one of the best looking and handling mid-size sport sedans for less than $23K.
Inside, be prepared for a well-done yet in no way overdone cabin. Everything is within reach of driver and passenger, and I really like the accessory control knobs instead of “touch” systems, the latter somewhat troublesome on the Mazda navigation system. The seats are comfortable, and rear legroom is very good, even for taller adults.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 111.4 inches, 3,232 lb. curb weight, 14.8 cu. ft. of cargo space, 36.7 turning circle and a 16.4 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, the new 2015 Mazda6 is an excellent example of good looks, sportiness and economy in one of the best looking mid-size cars out there. As for owner input, Consumer Reports magazine notes in its “Best Cars” issue that “85-percent of Mazda6 owners said they’d definitely buy the car again, topping its class.”
Regardless of dress, Mazda6 is a winner for sure, and worthy of your attention if shopping this class.
Likes: new design, fuel mileage, reliability, peppy engine
Dislikes: Tire noise, engine a little noisy, NAV touchscreen difficult to learn.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who writes weekly for BestRide.com and other GateHouse Media publications)