2016 Mazda 6 i Grand Touring
By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman
I always look forward to getting a Mazda dropped off in my driveway for a week's worth of driving. You can always count on a Mazda to deliver three things: peppy performance, great gas mileage, and outstanding handling.
Our test car was the top of the line model, the Grand Touring model. As all Mazda 6 models, it comes with a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder direct injection, variable valve timing engine with a very high 13:1 compression ratio and is designed to use unleaded gas. The engine makes 184 horsepower and 185 ft. lbs. ot torque. Only front wheel drive is available, but you can get a manual transmission, or a 6-speed automatic with gearshift or paddle shift options. The test car had the automatic, which is rated for 28mpg City, and 40 mpg Highway. We experienced 27.7 and 38.6 respectively. Since I’m a good guy, I round up and say that they hit their marks.
Off the line performance is lacking, but the car feels friskier than the numbers would suggest, due to the weight of the car being just over 3,200 lbs. Mazda’s philosophy is to cut weight, to gain performance, and the Mazda 6 offers a fun driving experience, especially when you push the button into Sport mode, and the car will work the rev range for stronger performance. Using the paddle shifters can also wring more Zoom-Zoom out of the engine. And even when pushed hard, the engine is still smooth and fairly quiet and composed.
The steering is quick and responsive, with steering effort that increases as you turn the wheel. The brakes feel great and provide short stopping distances. The car has improved the suspension geometry over the previous version, which limits front end dive and squat. Under heavy loading in corners, the Mazda 6 feels well composed, and no harshness reached into the cabin. It feels light and nimble, and without much body roll. The ride is firm, yet comfortable over most road surfaces. And the Touring model fills out the wheel wells with 19” tires, so there is plenty of grip.
Mazda paid more attention to the interior of this new generation. The dash has been redesigned and is more eye appealing, and some of the controls were made easier to use. The center stack is dominated by a large Nav screen that can be used as a touch screen or operated with a round dial on the console. All the HVAC controls are easy to use, and everything is laid out for the driver’s ease of use. The new Mazda Connect set-up for the infotainment system is much better and easier to use than former generations, although it still has a few quirks we weren’t thrilled with. The voice recognition responds better than most, and we were able to input addresses into the Nav system without much fuss. Commanding the phone and radio was also easy. I liked the heads up display a lot, and when using the radar cruise control, the display lets you see how you’ve set up the following distance, and lane departure warning features.
The test car was equipped with the $2,180 GT Technology Package which includes the Lane Departure Warning, Radar Cruise, Regenerative Engine Braking, and Smart Brake Support, along with Low Beam controls, and Active Grill Shutters. Standard at this trim level are things like Blind Spot Monitor, Adaptive Front Lighting, LED running lights, fog lights, and taillights. A moonroof, heated outside mirrors (auto dimming on drivers side), rearview camera, keyless entry, dual zone climate controls, Bose 11-speaker sound system and rain-sensing wipers are all present. The Touring model won’t leave you wanting for amenities.
The standard 8-way power heated leather seats are very comfortable and supportive, and the Parchment color leather is offset with the black trim to give the car a jazzy look inside. The rear seats are also comfortable with good leg room, although the sloping roofline may cramp some taller folks in the back seat. Room is good for two people back there, but the center seat is cramped. The trunk is very spacious, and only improves when the rear seats fold down flat. A nice amenity is the push button in the trunk to release the rear seat backs.
Exterior styling is always subjective, and we like what they’ve done to the lines of the car. A reshaped winged design front grill is flanked by narrow headlights that French into the muscular fenders with interesting arched lines that flow rearward. Another interesting character line starts at the front wheel well and sweeps upwards towards the rear fender well. Interesting taillight treatments appeal to the eye, and the dual exhaust tips look sporty. Viewed from the side, the roofline makes the whole car look sleek and classy, yet it has an aggressive stance. It all works.
The Mazda 6 is offered in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The Sport model starts at $21,495, and comes fairly well equipped. The Touring model starts at 23,945, and the Grand Touring starts at $30,195. Automatic and Manual transmissions are available on the Sport and Touring trims, but The Grand Touring only comes with an automatic.
The Grand Touring model we had added the GT Tech Package, and $300 for the Soul Red exterior color and $200 for door sill trim plates and a cargo mat. The bottom line came to $33,695. That isn’t a lot of money for a mid-size well equipped sporty sedan. Buyers in this market would do well to consider the Mazda 6 if they are looking for a car in this category and price range.
By Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman