Driven: 2018 Mazda6 Facelift With 2.5 Turbo Is A Working Man’s Luxury Sedan

It’s hard to find anything in life that gives more value than it requires in payment. That’s especially true with new cars and their ever-increasing prices.

However, Mazda bucks the trend by offering a taste of high-class living on a middle-class income. The heavily redesigned 2018 Mazda6 in range-topping Signature trim is unquestionable proof.

Turbo power is here. Finally

The first thing you need to know about the updated Mazda6 is that it’s now offered with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. Mazda is known for their Zoom Zoom branding, and thanks to the optional 2.5-liter turbo four, the 6 doesn’t disappoint. The Skyactive engine makes 227 horsepower on 87 octane and an impressive 250 horsepower on 93. Torque is even more surprising, with 310 pound-feet available at only 2,000 rpm regardless of the octane rating. Maximum horsepower is available at 5,000 rpm.

The result is a sprint to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Highway overtaking is even better, with Car & Driver recording a 30 to 50 mph jump in just 3.2 seconds. Mazda has somehow dialed out turbo lag; in fact, if you don’t know that there’s a turbo under the bonnet, you could easily mistake the 2.5-liter unit for a naturally aspirated one.

Mazda’s engineers did their homework on controlling torque steer as well. The leather-wrapped steering wheel barely gives any indication all 310 pound-feet are twisting through the front wheels. A smart, six-speed automatic caps the powertrain. Its gearing is well spaced and its shifts are quick. Paddles and a +/- gate on the shifter allow for manual control. Sport mode keeps the revs high and allows faster gear changes, while the engine has a sharper throttle response.

Handling and braking are equal parts of the Zoom Zoom mantra and the 6 has those locked down. The 225-wide all-season tires are its Achilles heel when pushed extremely hard, but otherwise, the 6 turns with a crisp response and remains flat through corners. The brakes are very responsive and give confidence to the driver.

When not bombing over a curvy back road, the 6 returns a smooth, quiet and comfortable ride. The EPA estimates fuel consumption at 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. Those looking for better economy should stick with the base, non-turbo 2.5-liter engine. It returns 26/35/29 mpg while delivering 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. This engine also comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission in the Sport trim.

Visual Bliss

The powertrain isn’t the only highlight of the facelift, as Mazda gave the 6 a body massage, reworking and slightly remolding the exterior for 2018. The result is a stunningly beautify sedan with balanced proportions and an air of aggression. Just look at that grille and front fenders. No lines clash or end awkwardly, but rather seamlessly meld into a cohesive mass of forward-leaning momentum.

Sculpted and detailed taillights replace the comparatively dull units from last year, too. Dual, chrome-tipped exhaust pipes hint at the turbocharged mill under the hood. The 6 even rolls on 10-spoke, 19-inch alloy wheels in a gunmetal gray finish that matches the grille insert.

Smaller bits of chrome help add character to the 6’s body. These include the chrome accents along the front bumper’s lower edge, the window surround, and the horizontal bar connecting the taillights.

Impressive Interior Accommodations

Open the solid-feeling driver’s door, and the Mazda6 Signature’s brown, black and chrome interior instantly impresses. The overall appearance is reserved and well designed. There’s even suede trim on the dashboard. The interior is devoid of the numerous buttons and overdone aesthetics that plague many premium sedans and overwhelm non-tech savvy drivers.

Rather, the 6’s interior is inviting and mature, yet somehow offers all the right controls for everything. There is no need to fumble through the infotainment system to adjust the heated and cooled seats, either, like say, in the 2018 Lexus LC500h we recently tested. Instead, you just press the clearly marked buttons on the HVAC control panel.

The Signature trim boasts a configurable gauge cluster with a 7.0-inch center TFT screen. There aren’t too many menu pages; just info about the adaptive cruise control, two trip computers, and a full needle for the speedometer. The head-up display shows a digital speedometer, along with traffic sign recognition and speed limit signs. A digital fuel gauge even displays the remaining mileage.

An 8.0-inch, tablet-style infotainment screen protrudes from the center dash. No, despite its looks, it doesn’t retract. It does, however, offer control via touch and the main control buttons on the center console. The screen’s graphics are pretty good, though not class-leading. The software is easy to navigate and use while driving. GPS navigation, SiriusXM, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity are present, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are missing. Still, there’s very little that detracts from the user’s experience. Mazda’s put together a solid system.

The Japanese automaker didn’t devote all its attention to the front occupants, either. The rear seats offer an impressive ride with plenty of leg and headroom. HVAC vents and heated seats keep passengers comfy, while a folding center armrest includes cup holders and two USB ports. The 6’s interior space somehow exceed what the exterior dimensions suggest. Grown adults won’t complain about an all-day road trip back here. What’s more, the trunk is large enough for four adults’ weekend luggage and covered hinges keep things from getting smashed.

Safety Systems

Enthusiasts have their fancies tickled with the 6’s greasy bits and eye-catching aesthetics, but Mazda didn’t forget about the safety conscious folks either. The Mazda6 Signature comes standard with all the modern active safety systems required to achieve an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award (though the 2018 hasn’t been evaluated as of this writing).

These safety features are bundled under Mazda’s i-ActiveSense system and include Radar Cruise Control with Stop and Go function, Smart Brake Support, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, High Beam Control, Adaptive Headlights with LED bulbs and a 360-degree camera system.

Many of these features are available throughout the 6’s trim range at an extra cost. The passive safety systems, namely twin front airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags and front side-impact airbags, are standard across the board.

Value-Driven Proposition

The 2018 Mazda6 is an impressive sedan with a wide range of features, tech gadgets, and powertrain offerings. It’s surprising, then, to see Mazda price it so aggressively. The base Sport starts at $21,950 with its six-speed manual transmission and naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Stepping up to the six-speed automatic adjusts the price to $23,000. Above the Sport are the Touring ($25,700), Grand Touring ($29,200), Grand Touring Reserve ($31,700), and the Signature ($34,750).

The Signature trim comes with all the bells and whistles save for three extra-cost paint options and minor accessories like all-weather floor mats and cargo nets for the trunk. Our test car came with the $595 Soul Red paint, $75 cargo mat and $125 scuff plates. Add in the (unavoidable) $890 delivery charge, and the total package came to $36,435. That’s a very solid price for a seductive sedan with the equipment you’d expect on a car costing 10 grand more.

The value proposition dramatically increases when comparing that price to those of popular crossovers and SUVs. Get past the want of sitting high in traffic and you can have a fully loaded Mazda6 for the same price as an entry or mid-level crossover. Sure, it all boils down to personal preference, but it’s impossible to miss the 6’s champagne offering on a beer budget.

 

 

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  • Jp

    The “Japanese Alfa” has never been so close to the truth! This car has aged incredibly well!

  • Spyder Hole Fantome

    Nice! Marketed correctly, this should sell very well.

  • WalthamDan

    Still the best looking sedan offered especially in the best red paint color offered. I wish more people would buy the 6 vs the Camry, Accord etc.

    • Merc1

      I agree. The Camry is strong this time around though, especially in the looks department, except for maybe the nose in certain colors.

      M

    • Six_Tymes

      I agree, but it costs a lot more than Camry

    • Nordschleife

      I do too my friend. I do too.

  • xDRAN0x

    Drove this. Sadly no exhaust/engine note to enjoy.

    • Brent Morrison

      Even the Camry V6 has more character

    • brn

      A quiet exhaust is a selling point for me. I don’t need my car to sound like it’s working hard when pulling onto the freeway.

  • Merc1

    Amazing how far this car has come. The design was solid from day one, but now there is greater power, luxury and refinement. WINNER.

    M

  • salamOOn

    add awd , hi-res display and apple carplay and im sold.

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      What will awd add to it?

      • Six_Tymes

        my question also. awd is certainly Not needed

    • Six_Tymes

      awd is certainly Not needed, it would just add weight and decrease gas mileage. this car was already reviewed to be good in snowy climates.

      • salamOOn

        nah, if i would own this (any) car I would be more comfortable with awd rather than with someone’s opinion that says that this car does not need awd. because it would be my car and my ass in it while driving in bad conditions, and it would be for way longer period than a few test days…. of course this is not a case if i would live in california.

    • Spyder Hole Fantome

      Why ruin it with Apple Cargay?

    • (⌐■_■)

      more like add RWD biased AWD…. and some headroom … seriously @[email protected]

  • Brent Morrison

    For not much more, you can just get a Lexus ES instead of the high end trim. Poor value.

  • Six_Tymes

    when mazda starts integrating their nav screens ill buy their cars again. i really dislike the tacked on design look, and its a shame other car companies do the same now

  • Dennis Scipio

    It’s still a nice looking car.

  • Spyder Hole Fantome

    Without getting political, I think you know the answer.

    • ace_9

      No, I don’t??? What kind of answer is that?

      • Loquacious Borborygmus

        He doesn’t know either.

  • Harry_Wild

    ” …60 mph in 6.4 seconds!” Not that fast as you think it is. Drive the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry V6 and acceleration is much more torque especially at a stop or slow roll the the new Mazda 6 2.5Turbo.

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      What?!

    • diesel_vdub

      Sub 8 second zero to 60 on anything but sports cars is pointless. Very few actually accelerate from a dead stop to 60, have you seen the way American’s half-ass attempt to merge on the Interstate? 30-50 or 50-70 acceleration times are more important as that’s what is used in day to day driving.

  • pcurve

    I think it comes down to 3 factors.

    1. 20% VAT in Slovakia.
    2. larger per car overhead due to Slovakia being smaller market.
    3. Import duty on cars. (pretty sure it’s 10%)

    For USA, sales tax is not included, because it varies by state. But on average, expect to pay 7%. Import duty on cars is only 2.5%.

    • ace_9

      Good explanation. Thanks. And I guess that lower taxes in USA are caused by different political system and other things like services, medical expenses, etc. are more expensive and need to be paid in full directly from the pocket.

  • Kagan

    We are robbed!

    • ace_9

      Seems like an accurate enough description of the way how our economy works 😀

      • Kagan

        👍👍👍

  • Brent Morrison

    Because you are in a socialist country

    • ace_9

      I don’t know what current economically-political system is, but believe me, it is not a socialism 😀

  • THIS IS VERY ATTRACTIVE. WHEN I FIRST SAW THE INTERIOR ON-LINE I LIKED WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A LEATHER WRAPPED FEATURE BETWEEN THE AIR VENTS AND CLIMATE CONTROLS. IN PERSON I SAW THAT IT WAS COVERED IN SOME KIND OF CLOTH, WHICH ISN’T GONNA BE EASY TO KEEP CLEAN.

  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    The interior is devoid of the numerous buttons and overdone aesthetics that plague many premium sedans and overwhelm non-tech savvy drivers.
    Instead, a tablet takes center stage which EVERY non-tech savvy driver loves…

  • Paul

    One of the best or maybe the best looking sedan on he market.

  • brn

    Mazda reviews well, but always seems to disappoint when actually experienced.

  • SteersUright

    This is no sport sedan until it becomes RWD or its AWD can be heavily rear biased. Also, 0-60 in anything over 6 seconds is rather pathetic in 2018. Lastly, any true sport sedan should never sit so high over its wheels, should sport properly wide wheels and tires pushed out to their corners as well as suitably large brakes and cornering capability over .9g.
    This is just a faster Mazda6 to take on the 250hp Accords and Camrys of the world, hardly any more a sports sedan than this car.

  • Sybill Julian

    I want it but the price in my country was 50000$ lol. just got cx3 for $30000. I could buy BMW 320i with current Mazda 6 price.

  • ron98

    the camera 360 is so blurry

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