2014 Mazda6

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Cue ’80s-era Queen… another one bites the dust.2014 Mazda6

Another V-6, that is.

The 2014 Mazda6 – all-new – is now also four-cylinder-only.

The good news is the new “SkyActiv-G” four is stronger than the old four – 184 hp vs. 170 last year. It is also a much peppier performer (0-60 in about 7.5 seconds vs. over 9 last year) in part because the new 6 is about 100 pounds lighter than the old 6. The new four-cylinder-only 6 is also much more fuel efficient: 26 city/38 highway vs 21 city, 30 highway last year.

Even better news: A “SkyActiv-D” 2.2 liter turbo-diesel – and 40-plus MPG – is on deck for the 6 later in the model year. Reportedly, the diesel-powered 6 will also be quicker than the gas-engined 6. Look out, VW Passat TDI.6 sky 2

The bad news is the diesel won’t be available for awhile. Also, there is a gorgeous wagon version of the new 6 that won’t be sold here. It’s an export-market only deal – because Mazda believes not enough Americans are interested in sportwagons.

Sigh.

And no more 272 hp. So, no more low six-second to 60 runs. The formerly available 3.7 liter V-6 was just too thirsty (18 city, 27 highway) for current – and pending – political realities. In two model years (2016) all new cars will have to average 35.5 MPG, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s edicts – or saddle their manufacturers – and thus, buyers – with onerous gas guzzler taxes.

So, sayonara to the V-6.

Still, Mazda has done more than put lipstick on a pig by making the 2014’s four better than last year’s four.

Let’s get into that now.

WHAT IT IS6 Sky D

The 6 is Mazda’s Altima-Fusion-Optima fighter, with the chief difference between it and them being efficient sportiness. It no longer offers a powerful but consumptive V-6 engine, but it does offer a highly fuel-efficient four cylinder engine – with an even more fuel efficient (and sportier) turbo-diesel engine on deck.

Prices for the 2014 model start at $20,880 for the base trim iSport – vs. $21,900 for a base Ford Fusion, $21,760 for the base-model Nissan Altima, $21,680 for a base Honda Accord sedan and $21,200 for the base Kia Optima.

A top-of-the-line i Gran Touring lists for $29,495 – vs. $30,200 for a top-of-the-line Fusion Titanium, $30,560 for a V-6 Altima SL, $33,430 for an Accord Touring w/V-6 and $26,800 for the turbocharged Kia Optima SX (the deal of the bunch).6 curb lead

The pending SkyActiv diesel version of the new 6 will directly challenge the efficiency hegemony of the VW Passat TDI – which lists for $26,225.

At the time of this review, Mazda had not released any details about what the price of a Sky-D equipped 6 might be. If it’s significantly less than the $26k  VW is asking for the TDI Passat, it’s going to get very interesting.

WHAT’S NEW

The 2014 Mazda6 is all-new, a complete redesign.

WHAT’S GOOD

Arguably one of the best-looking cars in this class – and for this coin.

Supple, quiet ride.

New four delivers much better power/performance than the old four – and very good gas mileage.

Pending diesel engine will give the 6 better performance – and close to hybrid-car fuel efficiency.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD6 wagon

New four maxxes out at 184 hp – which looks a bit weak relative to several competitors’ available 250-plus hp V-6s (and turbo fours).

SkyActiv diesel engine should be on the menu now – not later.

No wagon for us.

 UNDER THE HOOD

As mentioned above, the 2014 6 has lost its formerly optional V-6 and – for the first few months of its life – will be available only with a 2.5 liter gas-burning four. It’s the same size as before, but Mazda has tweaked and tuned it to get 184 hp (and 185 lbs.-ft. of torque) out of it as opposed to 170 hp (and 167 lbs.-ft. of torque) last year.6 sky

The object appears to have been to bridge the gap between last year’s too-weak/too-slow base-engined 6 – and the too-thirsty V-6 that was optional but which one almost had to buy because the base four (in the old 6) wasn’t getting it done, performance-wise.

Or even efficiency-wise.

The updated four in the new 6 rates a very solid 26 city/38 highway – and gets the car to 60 in 7.5-7.6 seconds, depending on the transmission: your choice of six speed manual or six-speed automatic. This is a big improvement over the old four-cylinder 6’s glacial 9 second run – and not-so-hot 21 city, 30 highway EPA mileage stats.

It’s also only about a second or so off the pace of last year’s 6 with its optional V-6 – and more important, very competitive with the performance of base-engined versions of cars like the Ford Fusion – which takes more than 9 seconds to reach 60 with its standard-issue 2.5 liter, 175 hp four – or the base-engined Kia Optima, which also needs about 9 seconds to reach 60.6 stick

The Sky-G Mazda also beats the base-engined (2.5 liters, 182 hp) Nissan Altima, which takes about 7.8 seconds to get to 60.

In fact, the only competitor that’s as quick as the new 6 in base-engined form is the just-updated Accord, which gets there in the same 7.5 second range (and also rates a very respectable 27 city, 36 highway).

But there will inevitably be comparisons between the power/performance offered by the new 6 – which is after all, a sporty-minded car – and sporty-minded competitors like the Optima and Accord, Altima and Fusion when fitted with their much stronger optional engines  . . . which Mazda hasn’t got an answer for at the moment.

The Fusion, for instance, has also nixed its six – it only comes with fours now. But you can upgrade from the gimpy 175 hp engine to a turbo 2.0 engine that makes 240 hp and cuts the 0-60 time down to 6.8-6.9 seconds. So equipped, the Fusion still gets decent gas mileage, too: 22 city, 33 highway.

The Kia Optima can be equipped with a 274 hp turbo 2.0 four that beats the turbo Fusion – and runs circles around the 6 – with a 6.5 second to 60 posting. It also carries a very impressive (given the power/performance) EPA fuel efficiency rating of 22 city, 34 highway.

And models like the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima (and some others, including the Toyota Camry) still offer very potent V-6 engines. In the case of the Accord, a 278 hp 3.5 liter V-6 that rockets this car to 60 in six seconds flat. It’s not a hog, either: EPA says 21 city, 34 highway – which isn’t at all that far behind the Mazda’s 26 city, 38 highway.6 morpheus

But, Mazda’s got a one-up: That 2.2 liter SkyActiv-D turbo-diesel that’s in the works for later in the model year. It will – reportedly – provide better acceleration than the current 2.5 liter gas engine in addition to better fuel economy (more than 40 MPG on the highway and probably 30 or better in city driving).

Unfortunately for Mazda buyers, the Sky-D diesel engine will not be available in the 6 until sometime next calendar year.

That is, 2014.

We’re still only about a third of the way through 2013. The risk Mazda runs is that the newness halo of the “2014” 6 may have waned by the time we actually get to 2014.

ON THE ROAD6 road

The Sky-G engine is a very torquey, quiet and smooth powerplant. The nearly 20 lbs.-ft. bump in output is particularly relevant insofar as how the car pulls. Not only is there more torque than last year, it’s available almost 800 RPM sooner – at 3,250 revs vs. the old non-Sky-G four’s 167 lbs.-ft at 4,000.

However  . . . today’s four cylinder engines have the same issue to overcome that modern diesel engines have had to overcome. The perception issue – based on what these engines were like 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, diesels were slow – and smelly.

They are neither today.

Similarly, wonders have been worked with today’s small-displacement (and non-turbo) gas engines. The Sky-G’s 184 hp out of 2.5 liters is more hp than was being pulled out of bigger sixxes just 10 or 15 years ago – and more than some V-8s were making 25 years ago.6 road 2

If you were to tele-port a new Mazda6 back to the early Reagan years, you’d find yourself keeping up with Corvettes – no, really – and obliterating the typical family sedans of that era. A mid seven second 0-60 run circa 1983 would have been smiled upon as extremely speedy. And from a car capable of averaging 34.2 MPG (as I did, during my week-long test drive). . . ?

Are you kidding me? Where do I sign up?

So there’s that.

Still, many people regard fours – especially if they’re not turbocharged fours – as fundamentally economy car engines. This is ok if the car is an economy car. But the 6 isn’t primarily – or even secondarily – an economy car. It is primarily a sporty car. People who shop sporty cars expect things to happen when they push down on the gas pedal.6 front action

Good gas mileage is desirable, certainly. But it’s not everything. Maybe it is for the government control freaks who keep insisting on ratcheting it ever upward by legislative fiat – and to the exclusion of almost every other consideration. But consumers may have different needs and wants.

This is the crux of the dilemma.

A mid seven seconds to 60 run isn’t slow.

However, is it quick enough? Relative to what the competition offers?

If the 6 still had its optional V-6 (or could be ordered with the pending but not-yet-here turbo-diesel four) the performance uptick achieved by the base four would be hailed as exemplary.

It is certainly no longer necessary to upgrade to get adequate performance – as it arguably was last model year. “Adequate” being defined as guts enough to achieve freeway-matching speed from merge ramps and so forth sufficiently quickly such that you don’t feel as though you’re driving an overloaded Geo Metro.

You will never feel this way driving the new four-cylinder 6.

Unless, of course, you square off against a V-6 Accord or Altima – or the turbo’d versions of the Fusion and Optima.

And therein lies the rub.6 rearview

If the diesel SkyActiv engine gets the 6 to 60 in seven seconds or close to that – while delivering 40-plus MPG –  this rub will be salved.  Such performance – and economy – would be very appealing. So why – why – is Mazda sitting on the diesel? It’s a potential war-winner, right up there with the Germans’ WWII-era Arado AR234 jet bomber. Which the idiot Nazis could have mass produced as early as ’43 but which they didn’t get into front-line service until it was already far too late to do them much good.

The diesel dallying makes me angry, because the new 6 is a damn nice car – and deserves to go to the front lines with a full kit.6 skyactive

The ride/handling of this car is just excellent. Plush – and firm. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, I know. But go for a drive. You will find the suspension’s dampening ability phenomenal. Luxury – and sport – in the same car. If the road dips – or a pothole drops a wheel – the driver (and passengers) will hardly know it. Perhaps this is due to the new car’s longer wheelbase – now 11.4 inches vs. 109.8 for the old model. But Mazda deserves credit for doing more than just stretching the chassis. This car modulates itself to accommodate imperfections in the road with impressive subtlety. Yet it does not wallow. The steering isn’t sloppy.6 nose clip

It reminded me of the way Pontiac, back in the day (’70s) set up the Trans-Am to ride well and handle well – vs. its sister car, the Camaro Z28, which also handled well but rode like a military half-track.

And, it’s really quiet. Especially the Sky-G engine. Which is amazing, given it’s a four.There are no sounds of strife, even at high RPM.

The only deficit is you can’t power out of the curves like you used to be able to – when the 6 could be had with 270-plus hp under its hood.

AT THE CURB6 curb lead

The new 6 is a slightly smaller – and lighter – car than before:  2.2 inches shorter overall and about 100 pounds less beefy (3,183 lbs. vs. 3,268 for the ’13). It sits almost 1 full inch lower to the ground, too: 57.1 inches vs. 57.9 last year.

The front clip especially is lithe, sinuous – almost feline in the way it stretches forward over the arched wheelwells – with the arches rising like a an ocean swell from the front door area before they wash over the tires. The much-enlarged grille opening, meanwhile, suggests a lust for airflow – and a need for speed.6 front leg

It’s a pretty car – a sexy car. No doubt about it.

And a lot more distinctive-looking than the previous 6 – which was more generic “Japanese sedan” than Mazda sedan.

Those are the subjectives. And the objectives?

The elongated wheelbase allowed Mazda to carve out about 3/4 of an inch more rearseat legroom – which stands at 38.7 inches for the 2014 vs. 38 for the ’13.

This is an area where the Mazda absolutely mops the floor with the very appealing Kia Optima – which is otherwise one of the strongest contenders in this segment and arguably, the 6’s closest-in-spirit competition. It has only 34.7 inches of backseat legroom. That’s three full inches less – a big difference.  The Optima makes up for this with 45.5 inches of front seat legroom – which is more than any car in this segment by several inches, including the 6 (42.2 inches). But frankly, unless you’re an NBA forward, the Kia’s 45.5 inches up front is an on-paper advantage and more than you’ll ever need to be comfortably situated. I say this as a guy who’s six feet three  – which means I’m taller (and longer legged) than 95 percent of the population. If you’re my height or less, you’ll be fine with the 6’s 42.2 inches up front – and your passengers in the second row will be fine, too.6 rear legroom

Meanwhile, if you buy the Kia, your backseat passengers will be miserable – unless they’re proportioned like Danny DeVito.

However, all is not sunshine and light. The subtraction of those 2.2 inches of overall length from the 6’s silhouette has had a more meaningful downsizing effect on trunk space – which drops to 14.8 cubes from the old 6’s much more generous 16.6 cubic foot trunk. The new 6’s trunk capacity is less than many of the other cars in this class, including the Fusion (16 cubic feet) the Optima and Camry (15.4 cubic feet each) as well as the VW Passat (15.9 cubic feet).

THE REST

Though the base iSport trim is well-equipped (standard AC and major power options, 17-inch wheel/tire package, LCD driver  display, etc.) some stuff that probably ought to be included – like satellite radio/Bluetooth – isn’t. They’re extra-cost. Also, the base car with six-speed manual transmission comes with a smaller LCD display. If you order the optional six-speed automatic (which brings the MSRP up to $22,495)  then you get the larger (5.8 inch vs. 3.5 inch) display, Bluetooth/HD stereo and a rearview back-up camera.6 nose

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Sky-G 6 is a player – but a Sky-D 6 could be a game-changer.

I just wish it were in the game – instead of waiting in the wings.

Throw it in the Woods?

 

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47 COMMENTS

    • I think C&D had a petition going, too.

      Meth mentioned the Caddy CTS-V as an example of station wagons that haul the mail. I can’t believe I forgot that one – I was lucky enough to get a week in one last year. Holy acceleration, Batman! I nearly stroked out my poor father-in-law. Sideways up the road for the first 50 yards – on to 147 in fourth gear.

      A serious car.

      • Eric I’m more determined than ever that I will never, never buy a GM product.

        It kills me, because I’ve had a ‘Vette Z06 and a CTS-V on my bucket-list since they first came out.

        But I will not support Government Motors, ever.

        It’s crony crapitalism at its worst; pure fascism. They took my money without asking to support their politically-connected insider business…

        …and to add insult to injury, Cadillacs and Volts are now made in China.

        So Maurice Strong, Al Gore, and the rest of the “Elite” who’ve decided Chinese fasco-slavery is the wave of the future can enjoy outsize profits on the backs of abject servitude.

        I won’t support it.

        This is one principle that actually hurts; I WANT that CTS-V!

        Eric if you had a choice between the new, numb-feeling M5 and the CTS-V, which would it be?

        • Meth, I agree. Sadly – because GM has many very appealing cars available right now.

          And, the thing is, they could have made these great cars without digging into our pockets via Uncle. The company could have divested itself of the deadweight (non-performing divisions) and reorganized after a bankruptcy. There was plenty of value in the company – just not all of the company.

          On the M5 vs. CTS-V –

          Leaving aside the crony capitalism issue, I’d take the Cadillac. For the following reasons:

          * Cadillac offers a wagon body – which helps this insanely un-PC car get away with un-PC actions far more than the more obviously un-PC M5 sedan

          * $30k price difference: $90,200 for the base M5 vs. $63,215 for the Caddy. If the M5 were significantly quicker or faster or handled better, then… maybe. But it is only slightly quicker – and handling is a toss-up. I’ve driven both and I’m nowhere near good enough to really make full use of what either of these things can do.

          * BMWs (not just this one) have become fussy and peremptory. They take too much control away from the driver. In all honesty, I’d rather have a late ’90s-era M3 than a current M5. The new M5 is quicker and faster – but the old M3 was emperor suite/all-expenses-paid/week in Vegas with all the $5,000 a night hookers you want kinds of fun.

          They just don’t make ’em like that anymore. But the CTS-V comes pretty close to it!

          • I’m inclined to agree.

            Sadly, this will probably be my last BMW–at least until BMW rediscovers its roots, and stops making nanny-mobile wallow-wagons with Barcalounger seats.

            Mine–a 2000 E39–has REAL engine sounds, not a synthesizer piping in engine pop music. The traction control goes OFF. It has a dipstick. And I can replace the battery and headlights without using a $50,000 shop computer to tell the ECU and its 29 accomplices what I’ve been up to. But to do a basic cam timing chain, you really should use the older BMW shop computer; Chinese knock-offs are available for about 1500 bucks.

            The new ones? Fuggedaboutit.

            Though…I *might* be tempted by a 135is with a proper Stage III Dinan job; apparently, they’re absolute hooligans in the tradition of the old 2002tii

            Eric I hear you on the sheer rawness of the CTS-V. My neighbor borrowed one from his loaded girlfriend; that damn thing is a FIEND my friend!

            Looks like I’m going to go with the Boss 302 after all.

            Eric–have you driven one? Any impressions?

        • Meth,
          I know this column is a bit old but I have a potential solution to your dilemma, as I feel similarly.

          You can buy a CTS-V or Corvette without supporting GM. Just buy one used at a dealership owned by another company, or a high-end used car dealer. GM already got their money and made their profit with the first buyer, so that might work for you.

  1. Re: Station wagons — I wish I could own one.

    I like wagons because of the fact that they can carry extra stuff without hauling around tons of extra metal like a CUV, an SUV or a truck. They still handle and drive exactly like a car, and they get the same mileage. If Mazda would sell this in the USA, it might win a few buyers, but its unlikely. Wagon sales make up a very small part of sales even for brands that sell them. It’s a shame. Americans don’t know what they are missing.

    My favorite wagon of the ages was the 1964-1967 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser. Second favorite was the 1969-72 model. For today’s wagons, the Mazda 6 would be a winner based on value. My favorite production wagon would have to be a BMW 5 series.

    • I guess I’m biased, I HATED filling the back of one with firewood.

      And, I’m more of an off-road kind of guy -> axle articulation <- at the very least, it's for getting out of the ditches.
      Maybe that's a reason station wagons aren't so popular, they can't crawl back out of a ditch? Or do as well when the snow plows don't.

    • I’m with you but my first choice was your second. The later models had much better suspension and brakes. In ’71 you could still get the bad boy 455 H.D with 11:1 compression and 500+ ft. lbs of torque. I liked the big window on top too. I remember reading a test of a new sports car way back then in Car and Driver or maybe Sports Car Graphic. The guy says he pulls up to a light beside this woman and her kids in one. He was driving the piss out of the car, full throttle, and she pulled away from him easily fussing at the kids and never knowing he was there. He returned to the office and thought about it a while.

    • I just remembered from having one(not a station wagon)that the 71 was a different car than the 72. In 72 they had to use regular and didn’t have the power of the 71 but they had a much better suspension once again and much better brakes as well as a different cruise control, better a/c and just a nicer handling car all the way around. 72-75 or 76 were the same car.

  2. “Those who cannot perceive how a wagon could be cool probably have never lived the surfing lifestyle.”

    Or they never saw how cool a drive in movie date could be with a wagon……

    • Ed, I’ve been trying to get to this since you posted it but had internet troubles. A camper on a pickup, a station wagon, a van, or just a big pickup turned around backward, mandatory for all these vehicles are/were great at drive-ins. I don’t know I lost anything there but I lightened the load quite a bit. I was just in the shower and thought about your “hit ya where the god lord split you” and laughed out loud. My wife asked what I was laughing about. Never mind, silly me.

      • Yeah, but we don’t have drive ins anymore. Nobody wants to put up with the mosquitoes and the heat anymore. Ah well, things change.

        • I knew a guy in Matador, Tx. that had one of the last ones I knew of. He said it was a conspiracy by the big theatres and movie industry to push them out. Nearly everyone I went to was on top of a hill and in most parts of Texas it’s dry enough if the wind is blowing which it pretty much is all the time you don’t have to put up with skeeters, esp. if you are further off the ground. We’re used to the heat. Any time the sun goes down it’s gravy. We did go to one in Oak Cliff with my sister in law and her husband one time with the hill to the SW of us. Seems like we cranked it up and used the a/c until things cooled off later. It’s not hard to find vehicles idling in parking lots here. I don’t think my old diesel was started but a couple dozen times ha ha.

          • ” Nearly everyone I went to was on top of a hill and in most parts of Texas it’s dry enough if the wind is blowing which it pretty much is all the time you don’t have to put up with skeeters,”

            Here in the east, w/ the humidity, once the sub goes down here comes the skeeters, and no relief from the steambath effect, either. It just gets darker, not cooler. Drive ins died out around here about 20 years ago.

            All of us old coots will die out too, but that’s how it’s ‘spose to be.

      • If liking station wagons is a requirement to be in the cool club, I’m just fine not being in it. However; I can appreciate the cornering abilities and the motor.

        They tore down the drive-in a couple of years before I got a drivers license… and, seems to me a field out in the middle of nowhere under the stars beats a drive-in theater parking lot any day. YMMV I suppose.

        Also, RE: internet troubles, I got a 504 and a 502 today. Third try’s a charm.

        Disclaimer: If you like station wagons or panel trucks I’ve got nothing against ya. Perhaps it’s a generational thing,… or something?

        • “Perhaps it’s a generational thing,… or something?”

          Naaah. I know young hotrodders who fixate on Nomads and sedan deliveries. Maybe it’s a genetic anomaly.

          Anyway, liking wagons isn’t required to be cool. I’m just saying that wagon heads are cool, too. We’re car lovers like all cool people are. 😉

          ‘Vert heads, pickup jocks, wagon heads, big sedan dudes and coupe heads…all car people, all cool.

        • Probably several reasons. Before I was married a few years I would have laughed you out of the room to suggest a station wagon but needs change. We always had a dog to haul or a couple and they do much better with their own spots and so do we. Another aspect is what eric related to and that was flying under the radar, literally. Who looks at them for speeding? I rarely have a vehicle I haven’t modified. We had an SS El Camino for a long time with a really hot engine and I had swapped out front end parts for WS-6 Trans Am parts, before you could buy aftermarket stuff like that. We still had to put stuff in the bed and the dog was cramped behind the buckets. I bought one of the very first Escort radar detectors(ordered it right after reading the review in Car and Driver, had to wait 4 months for it after I’d paid for it) and had six wonderful years without a ticket before instant on radar came out. We left Ruidoso and drove home one day, a 435 mile trip we made in 4 hrs. and 5 minutes. The speedo stayed cranked around down around P on the gear indicator. I always had the highest speed rated tires and the tightest suspension I could muster. Now, we ain’t in that much of a hurry not that we don’t speed. I don’t want to put up with the hassle of doing 120, seeing a cop and slam on the brakes so hard he can’t get a reading. It don’t mean he won’t stop you and give you a round. I need more “stuff” on the road now too. You’ll find out about that some day. Age is definitely a factor. And like Ed said, we grew up driving shoe boxes and they never went out of style.

  3. Those who cannot perceive how a wagon could be cool probably have never lived the surfing lifestyle. Thus, it is highly unlikely that they could be cool themselves. 😉

  4. “The front clip especially is lithe, sinuous – almost feline in the way it stretches forward over the arched wheelwells – with the arches rising like a an ocean swell from the front door area before they wash over the tires.”

    Dude!

    • Yeah that phrasing made me kinda horny, too.

      I tell you, I’m a sick puppy. When I see the last generation 911 Carrera S, with those super-wide curvy rear flanks, I get a funny feeling Down There.

      There is no doubt in my mind that the best car designs imitate the finest creation on the planet, the female form. You can’t look at a Ferrari without imagining a lanky supermodel draped over the deck of a quadrillion-dollar yacht in the Monaco harbor.

      While Ferraris whizz by nearby.

      • “While Ferraris whizz by nearby.” Yeah meth, that’s much better than the Ferraris that are whizzing at Monaco. Seen a few of those. I recall Schumacker eating up a lapped car only to have something fall off it and into his radiator duct. When he got out and whipped that helmet off you didn’t need a German translator.

  5. The front fenders kind of reminded me of 1970’s Corvettes.

    Then a paragraph after I had that thought you mentioned Corvettes.

    How bout that.

  6. Can someone explain the appeal of wagons to me? Is it just utility?
    I like the way the Mitsubishi Outlander looks, but that’s more of a Crossover/SUV than wagon.

    Mazda didn’t bring the wagon because they’re not cool, plain and simple. At least, wagons are perceived as uncool, in the minds of people in this market. I know that’s not always the idea, utility is, but Mazda markets this as a Sport sedan, so making a sport sedan a wagon seems contradictory. The Germans can get away with it, in-part, because price is less of an issue for people buying German cars. They can afford to sell them in low volume, Mazda doesn’t have that luxury.

    Everyone wanted so much from this car. During the days of spy shots for this car, everyone said “I’m sold…” turns out that would only be if the 6 came as: A wagon, with a Diesel, with a six-speed manual, with all wheel drive, fully loaded.

    I don’t know of any car that meets all of that, if it exists, it certainly won’t be middle class territory.

    Shame Mazda gets the tax of losing sales for not coming out with “that” car. I wish people would take it for what it’s worth.

    I agree, the Diesel should be available closer to launch, I hear it has a really high redline for a diesel.

    Good to hear the 4pot can move imagine if it met the class standard set at 200 by the Koreans..?

    Good review Eric, on one of my favorite mid-sizers.

    • I think part of it is the lingering psychological residue of station wagons … which were the minivans of another generation (mine, Gen X). Big, clumsy, wood-paneled family trucksters.

      Such vehicles never existed as mass-market vehicles in Europe – which is why there’s no stigma (in Europe) associated with wagons. Which, over there, are sport wagons – or, if you want to get snooty, shooting brakes!

      • eric, that’s as close as I can get. I can remember when nobody had money to buy wind tunnels so one of the best designs was (this was in the 60’s)a long straight rear end with a blunt back. That continued and guess it still does to a certain degree considering the styling of many Vettes that were made strictly for wind performance.

    • Wagons aren’t minivans or vans or SUVs.

      There is no reason why a wagon can’t be a good handling and performing car that can carry things. Wagons done up right can be cool. A minivan never can be and an SUV ends up looking like a cartoon.

      • Oh Mang, BrentP. Wagons Can Not be cool.
        I know some guys thought a hearse was cool, but they’re not either. No way, no how. I don’t care what those older guys say how it was.

        Minivans are ok (for some, not me) because the generation after X, grew up in one, or gen X grew some kids up in one… and they like cartoons.

        Myself, I like utility. And a 4×4 SUV is that. [A truck might be better though] My perception is, a wagon does not have the same ground clearance as an SUV, or more importantly, the same axle articulation.
        And, I can fit taller boxes of stuff in an SUV compared to a wagon.
        And Americans got lots of stuff they like to put in their vehicles.

        In my area I see a number of Subaru wagons from Colorado with stuff just jammed packed into the back and piled high on the top.

        The SUV’s I see from elsewhere have all their stuff in the back of their SUV (safe-ish from thieves and grab hands) not on the top.

        Just my take.

      • Exactly, Brent.

        I just left a post/picture along the same lines, using the Audi S6 Avant as a case in point. There’s also the Volvo V70R – which is lots of fun, I assure you.

        In particular, because these sportwagons are stealthy. They don’t have the “profile.” The exact same drivetrain in a sedan or even a coupe will draw more unwanted attention/hassles from cops and other drivers. I can vouch for this based on my 20-plus years of driving new cars every week, all year long.

        Plus, the wagon is useful on top of being fun. The cargo area is great for carting around dogs, for example. Or bags of topsoil/plants from the nursery.

        • Eric remember they made a wagon version of the last M5, the 500 hp V-10?

          And as far as I know, Cadillac still makes a wagon version of the 560 hp CTS-V.

          Good times, good times. Boiling-tire smoky drifts in a station wagon.

          There oughta be a law.

    • The people who like wagons really like wagons. Audi, VW and BMW keep bringing them over for a reason, and that’s because they sell. Especially the Audi All-road and the VW wagons. They aren’t cool, but they aren’t nerdy either. For a lot of people they’re more practical than a minivan or crossover.

      • Growing up we went through station wagons for 8 years, 2 Chevy’s, a ’54 and a ’57 in that new metallic copper color at the time. Of course the ’57 was a looker but it was tiresome before we had a new car, not a station wagon. I only began to appreciate them in the 90’s when GM made those good running Chevy and Buick wagons, got good fuel mileage, were reliable and quiet, handled well if you got the good stuff although the Buick fairly much had the good suspension without ordering it. I found one on ebay a guy a couple hundred miles away was selling. I almost bought it but had to wait till he got a ’55 Nomad built out of new drive-line and suspension ready for his wife. Still wish I had one. Dogs love ’em. No calling, just go to the car and they’re there waiting for a door to open.

    • “Can someone explain the appeal of wagons to me? ”

      I can’t explain, but I have always liked wagons, especially the two door variety like the ’55 Chevy Nomad and sedan delivery wagons. I loved the Henry J sedan delivery and the late 30s Anglia sedan delivery wagons.

      My favorite small wagon I ever owned was a ’69 Toyota 2 door wagon. It had a 4 cylinder and a 4 speed manual transmission. I removed the rear seat and replaced the factory steel rims with American mags.

      Right now, I drive a 1st generation PT Cruiser Limited Edition. That little wagon is my favorite car, even though it has 4 doors.

      For those who understand, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t get it, no explanation is possible. 😉

  7. Sounds like this is a very, very nice car. I haven’t seen one in person. In your pictures, it looks (again,) “very nice,” but not quite OMG, knockout beautiful.

    So at least until the rumored diesel appears, this car is going to have to lure buyers without any strong emotional hook, but only its overall “niceness.” Maybe emotion isn’t a dominant factor in this bracket. But when you mention V-6 Accords and Altimas in the same breath, I immediately rule out the Mazda.

    Also, “SkyActive” is about the dumbest name I have ever heard for an engine. 😉 Especially from the company that once brought us the Rotary.

    • Hey Mike!

      Yeah, good points.

      Espcially in re “SkyActiv.” I have some Japanese factory manuals for my ’70s bikes – and they have similarly hilarious/awkward turns of phrase.

      Maybe it sounds better in Japanese?

  8. Great review, I have always liked the Mazda 6’s.
    My best friend owned a MazdaSpeed6 and that was a great car other than the wheels (according to him the alloy used was weak and tended to crack when driving on typical Northeast Roads).
    We considered a used station wagon 6 a few years back but decided on a Subaru instead.

    I am disappointed that they aren’t offering the D right off the bat but am even more disappointed that they aren’t going to offer the wagon in the US. If we could buy the wagon with a diesel we would definitely be considering it as the next car for the wifey, too bad. The past wagons have been very roomy and a good alternative to a crossover or SUV, plus the ’14 wagon in the pic jsut plain looks awesome in my opinion.

    • Thanks, Harry!

      And yeah, it’s a real pity about the wagon. I don’t understand the reasoning at all. BMW, Benz, Audi… they’ve all successfully sold sportwagons here. No reason Mazda can’t.

      I think they screwed the pooch on that.

      • eric, I know they didn’t design it for the geriatric set but once a car guy always a car guy. I’ve seen several wagons I preferred the looks of to the coupe but then again, I’m an El Camino guy and you know what all the young-uns say about that. As you said, they did screw the pooch…not just on that but the diesel too. All the car companies keep telling us they can’t produce the diesel for the US yet everybody and their dogs(literally)are clamoring for diesels and wagons. It doesn’t compute as Data would say.

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