2017 Mazda6 GT Road Test Review

2017 Mazda6 GT

Mazda keeps making their Midsize entry better every year


What have they done this time to make the 6 even sweeter?

The last time we had a Mazda6 in the Carpages Garage, the year was 2014 and it was still glowing from taking top honors as the Canadian Car of the Year. After winning such a prestigious prize as voted on by the auto scribes across this great country, you might think that Mazda could rest in their laurels for a bit and relax. Except that’s not what they did. Every year since the current generation 6 has gone on sale Mazda has fiddled with it. Some of the highlights they’ve added are the incredible HMI infotainment system, a subtlety tweaked the interior and exterior and for 2016, the big story is the addition of G-Vectoring Control which we’ll get into in greater detail shortly.

The Mazda6 is doing its part for the Save the Manuals movement.

If you wish to row your own gears in this segment, you’re faced with slim pickings- these days only the Honda Accord and the Mazda6 can be had with a manual gearbox. Honda’s effort is pretty darn good- it offers lovely tactile feel through the gates coupled with silky and forgiving clutch takeup- but so does the Mazda. If you’re having trouble deciding between the two, we’d give a slight edge to the 6 based solely on the fact that its sheet metal is much nicer on the eyes than the kind of frumpy Accord. Our tester regrettably wasn’t equipped as such, instead calling on a 6-speed automatic to take care of shifting duties. We’ll always shed a tear at an opportunity missed to pick our own ratios, but the automatic Mazda employs leaves very little to complain about. It shifts smoothly and quietly when commuting, and when you turn up the heat a bit it becomes much more eager to downshift at the slightest provocation of the throttle and will bang down through the gearbox under braking in a way that’s wholly satisfying- a joy that is completely lost on any car using a CVT, for example.

Let’s have more on the G-Vector Control storyline.

Mazda is one of the few companies left on the automotive landscape where everything they build is actually fun to drive. From the most basic Mazda3 to a fully loaded CX-9, every vehicle in their portfolio feels like it was designed and built by people who genuinely care about driving. So it should come as no surprise that Mazda has engineered G-Vector Control to make a difference in how the cars equipped with the technology handle better and inspire more confidence when you show the 6 some corners. Here’s the thing though- G-Vector Control operated in a fashion that is pretty much undetectable. We would have preferred to sample a 6 without the technology and then drive them back to back to get a feel for G-Vector Control’s impact. Without that contrast, we fully admit not being able to feel anything going on, something that will be true of 99.999 percent of 6 buyers; also, it isn’t like the 6 can’t hold it’s own in the twisties anyhow, so G-Vector Control doesn’t transform it from a sloth to a cheetah. The whole thing works by ever so slightly cutting torque to the drive wheels which imparts a weight transfer to the steering axle, allowing for more surefooted changes in direction. G-Vector Control may seem like a lot of effort for minimal gain, but check out some videos showing how it works online- the difference it provides is compelling.

What’s it like inside?

Mazda is a small company, and doesn’t have the same resources at their disposal compared to some of the manufactures it competes against. That’s why the 6’s interior is so pleasantly surprising- it is easily the best in class, and could give cars that cost more a run for their money. The styling is on point and the build quality is staggering. The controls have a nice weight to them and if there’s evidence of the bean counters cutting corners, we couldn’t find any. It’s also extremely comfortable and even when we packed four occupants and their stuff along for a trip, nobody complained about lack of comfort. The whole experience is marred slightly by more wind and road noise than we’d like, but the that’s a compromise mandated by Mazda’s Skyactiv approach which favours lightweight construction, so we won’t complain too loudly.

Why aren’t more people buying this car?

We answer this question with a sigh and a shrug. We can’t figure out why the 6 isn’t at the top of the midsize sales charts, or at least scrapping it out for the top three choices (Mazda sold 2,730 6’s last year-  for context, Honda sold 14,461 Accords.) Midsize sedan buyers have sheer brilliance right under their noses, and for whatever reason they choose to look elsewhere- we’ve seen this work in the inverse where hordes of buyer’s plunk down good money on some pretty terrible cars (cough-cough, Jeep Compass.) The fact is that the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are all good choices too. If you have even a shred of automotive enthusiasm in your DNA, you’ll want to go with the 6. It isn’t perfect; a little too much noise permeates into the cockpit, we wish for more power from the 2.5 litre engine and we’re still waiting for the diesel that was supposed to emerge a few years ago. Small nits to pick, but these aren’t enough to push the 6 as far down the sales charts as it is. Mazda’s solution? Just keep making it even better.

2017 Mazda6 GT- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $38,490
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear wheel drive
  • Engine:  2.5-litre inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 184 @ 5,700 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 185 @ 3,250 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 1,498 kg (3,303 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 10.1/100km (24 mpg)