The 2017 Mazda 6 is one of the much better mid-sized sedans on today's market. A step up size-wise from the also exciting Mazda 3, the 6 gives you space, style, speed and sleekness for a remarkable driving experience in a niche market. Also, it's available in a six-speed manual transmission!
IT’S OFFERED IN A MANUAL TRANSMISSION
While the vast majority of mid-sized sedans come in an automatic-only transmission, the good folks at Mazda appeal to the drivers who want to combine sensible with sportiness and offer a smooth shifting six-speed manual transmission. With the manual dying an accelerated death throughout North America, it’s an interesting move on Mazda’s behalf (that I applaud) to offer this. The #savethemanuals campaign is filled with hope but the prominent actionable item is to actually buy a manual transmission vehicle. We’ll see what happens over the next 12 months.
Mazda makes solid DIY gearboxes (I’ve driven plenty) and the 6 GT’s follows suit. The shifts are crisp and clean, rowing through the gears is smooth (both up and down), and simply put, there’s no mistaking the “zoom zoom” feeling. However, you’ll forgo the Technology and Premium packages by declining the automatic transmission.
ALL-NEW G VECTORING CONTROL
Mazda has found a way to improve its already strong ride-quality in the 3. Having owned a 2005 and 2010 Sport GT model, I can attest to just how much fun the car was to drive and how accurate the steering feel was. For 2017, Mazda introduces G-Vectoring Control, and here’s how they explain it:
"Founded on our groundbreaking SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, G-Vectoring Control works behind the scenes to achieve a smoother, less fatiguing drive for you and your passengers by subtly adjusting engine torque, intentionally optimizing vehicle weight transfer during everyday commutes and spirited drives alike. The result is steering that is more precise and a ride that is more comfortable for drivers and passengers.”
Simply put, your driving experience will see stronger accuracy and precision.
THERE ARE A TON OF SAFETY FEATURES AVAILABLE
Safety technology keeps advancing through updated vehicles and the 2017 Mazda 6 has plenty of safety features available, including adaptive cruise control, smart brake support, smart city brake support, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, adaptive front lighting (where the headlights turn 15 degrees left/right in reaction to the steering wheel movement…very bright idea), lane departure warning, high beam control and forward obstruction warning.
WHILE THE MID-SIZE SEDAN MARKET IS DECLINING…THE 6 IS STILL A VERY STRONG OFFERING
It’s not just speculation: SUV/CUV/Crossover vehicles have become the most popular segment, once ruled by sedans. The gap is still narrow (as opposed to automatic vs. manuals) but it’s going to keep growing. The Chrysler 200 (which replaced the Sebring and has tens of thousands of units of nearly-impossible to move inventory) is no longer for this world. Thank goodness there’s a Ford Fusion Sport and Hybrid model to widen the appeal. The Camry, as reliable as it is, is still the middle flavour in the Neapolitan box.
Driving Jay loved the manual option and a mid-sized sedan, while sensible Jay questioned the same two factors, as both are declining.
Mazda won’t move many 6 GT manuals, but it’s courting the drivers who want excitement in their drive that uses all four limbs. Personally, I hope they beat whatever sales targets they have for this and who knows, maybe this will (in some small way) revive the appeal of manual vehicles.
BENEATH THE HOOD
This is where you’ll find a SkyActiv 2.5L inline four-cylinder engine producing 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft. of torque, which runs on up to 62 litres of regular fuel. In fact, it’s the only engine option on the 2017 Mazda 6 lineup. Definitely a cost saving measure, perhaps a hindrance for the top end GT trim as prospective buyers may stay at rungs 1 and 2 (GX and GS) if it’s power that they’re looking for over bells and whistles.
Fuel economy for the manual rates at 9.8 city and 6.9 highway for L/100 km, which is respectable for a curb weight of 1,474 kg.
The automatic option sees slightly better figures at 9.2 and 6.7 for the same metrics.
The handling is precise and steering feel is comfortable, as is the Mazda way.
The key changes to an already great looking/feeling interior is that Mazda has added a new Premium Package that includes Napa leather, detailed steering wheel stitching, black interior roof lining and a titanium coloured dash strip and trim, all of which give it an upscale appearance.
The door seals have been improved as has the noise-isolating glass, providing a quieter ride.
Also a first in its class is a colour heads up display, what Mazda calls their “Active Driving Display” which also includes traffic sign recognition.
The seats remain comfortable and there’s plenty of room up front and in the rear.
The seven-inch colour infotainment system is a carryover from last year and is still easy to maneuver through the HMI Commander dial and buttons.
Enjoy the full gallery below: