By Shari Prymak
2016 Mazda 6 GT - Midsized sedans aren't the popular sellers they once were. We can thank small crossovers for that. Still, the segment continues to offer some of most well-rounded vehicles one can buy, and one of the very best is the Mazda6.
Next to the Ford Fusion, the Mazda6 is likely one of the most stylish sedans in its price bracket. The deep red colour, in particular, that my test car came in does a brilliant job of accentuating all of the handsome design cues and the sporty coupe(ish) profile. The trade-off for all that handsomeness, however, is less rear seat headroom than the norm. Legroom and overall spaciousness is very good otherwise. The trunk should be able to swallow most things that a family can throw in it.
The interior too is quite attractive, especially if you go with the stunning off-white against black leather, which looks as though it was pulled straight out of a high-end Audi. All of the controls and buttons have a smooth, weighty feel to them that gives off the impression that they'll stand up well to many years of use. Most of the features, however, are integrated into a tablet-like centre display. It's a fairly user friendly system, offering both touch screen functionality and centre console controls.
Like the rest of the range, the Mazda6 benefits from a number of innovations crafted under Mazda's SkyActiv program. One of those benefits is a light-weight, yet super stiff, chassis that that not only aids fuel economy, but gives the 6 a level of agility and handling ability a cut above the other midsized offerings. It's a genuinely fun car to toss around when you feel like pushing it, yet still manages to feel compliant and serene when you don't.
Perhaps the best indication that the Mazda6 is well-suited to the driving enthusiasts is the availability of a sweet-shifting manual gearbox on every trim level (A smooth 6-speed automatic transmission is also available). In addition to upping the level of driver involvement, the manual helps extract the best fuel economy from the refined, 2.5L, 4-cylinder engine. I was able to average as little as 6.5L/100km on the highway without even trying.
Pricing for the Mazda6 starts at $24,695 for the entry GX model and climbs to $34,195 for the top of the range GT model with the Technology Package. All models come well equipped, but if it were me, I'd go with the $27,995 midrange GS model, which includes niceties like advanced keyless entry, climate control, backup camera, and a blind spot monitor system. To that I'd add the Luxury Package, which, for $3,000, adds a sunroof, navigation system, and finely trimmed leather seats with 8-way power driver seat adjustment.
The mainstream midsized sedan segment is filled with so many excellent choices that it's hard to go wrong. The Mazda6, however, is a true standout. It delivers on the stuff you need, like space, affordability, fuel efficiency, and over delivers on the stuff you want, like sharp styling and an engaging driving experience. It feels so polished and well executed in fact, that it almost feels like a contender for some premium sport sedans, like the BMW 320i, rather than its more obvious mainstream rivals, and that probably says it all. So if you're a keen driver who has been relegated to family driving duties, fear not, because Mazda has the perfect car for you.