2020 Mazda 6 Signature Extended Review


Intro

The latest generation of the Mazda 6 is a masterpiece. The strikingly good looking sedan also offers a premium interior that is normally seen in a much more expensive car. It comes with a whole suite of standard safety features, and delivers a driving experience that rivals most luxury sports sedans. 

The 2018 mid-cycle refresh gives Mazda the opportunity to refine the already good looking exterior with slicker front and rear fascias. A new optional turbocharged gasoline engine that produces 40 more ponies than the naturally aspirated 187hp engine is given to the Mazda 6. This makes the Mazda 6 an irresistible offer for anyone who is shopping for a full-size sedan.

For the year 2020, the Mazda 6 remains largely unchanged. The GLS trim gets 19" alloy wheels and paddle shifters. The GT grade now comes with a 360 degree monitor and front/rear parking sensors. 

While many media programs were halted during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mazda Canada generously let me keep the Mazda 6 during the lock-down for an extended review. This gives me a great opportunity to be acquainted with this beautiful car. Below is my unbiased review after spending 2 months with the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature.

Exterior
The 2020 Mazda 6 is still the best looking full-size sedan in my humble opinion. Mazda designers somehow manage to make their Kodo (Soul of Motion) design language work with their entire lineup, but the long body and the low stance of the Mazda 6 provides a perfect canvas for the designers to showcase the artful design to the full extent. 

At the front, a thick aluminum trim circles around the elegant mesh grill and brings focus to the slim LED headlights. A horizontal LED bar runs through the headlight housing for a serious, distinction light signature. The beam profile of the headlight eliminates the need for extra fog lamps . Instead, two chrome bars extend from the lower air intake to showcase the bumper lip. 

The chiseled hood lines morph into the prominent front wheel arches. The curvature of the wheel arches bring a strong sense of motion to the otherwise elegant side profile. The optional dark grey 19" ally wheels are not particularly eye-catching, but they compliment the exquisite side profile well. The Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint job, which costs an additional $450 to get, provides an amazingly deep and wet look that amplifies the curvatures of the beautiful sheet metal work. 

The rear of the Mazda 6 looks very composed. A long aluminum trim once again brings attention to the slim LED tail lights. An integrated spoiler lip on the tailgate helps to increase the aerodynamic efficiency of the car. The dual chrome exhaust tips are actually connected to the tailpipes. They complete the sporty vibe of the Mazda 6.




















Interior

The interior of the Mazda 6 is something rare to find at this price range. The tri-tone dashboard with its soft-touch leather deck, Sen wood inlays, and ivory UltraSuede microfiber covers looks more like a part of European fine furniture. Just like its exterior, a long piece of aluminum trim runs across the entire dash. It provides a sense of width and highlights the wide air vents in the front cabinet. The overall design is elegant and simplistic. All the physical controls are logically grouped in two places. The climate controls are located at the lower deck, and the infotainment controls are located at the center console. 

Our Signature trim tester comes with these ultra comfortable front seats that are covered with plush Nappa leathers. The front seats are both heated and vented. It is fully adjustable with lumbar support and seat memories. The driver seat provides a commanding driving position and is comfortable even for long drives. The soft UltraSuede covers extend to the lower part of the center console and provide a comfortable resting place for the driver's right knee. It is attention to details like these that make the interior of the Mazda 6 feel a class above.

The steering wheel is beefy and modern looking. Without seeing the Mazda logo at the center of the steering wheel, you would be forgiven to believe that you are in an European luxury vehicle. The back of the front seat has a plastic cover that is carved in to provide extra knee room. The padded pockets behind the front seats stow thinner objects elegantly. There is a dedicated air vent for the rear passengers. A dedicated temperature control for the rear cabin would make the Mazda 6 feel even more premium. Compared to some of its rivals, the moonroof of the car with its manual sliding shade is on the smaller side, but I find the manual sliding shade much faster to deploy than an electronic one. 

There is enough legroom for most passengers in the back. Headroom could be limited for taller passengers due to the slanted roofline, but regular sized people shouldn’t have too much trouble finding comfort in the back. There is a slight bump at the center floor, but it isn’t so big to make the person sitting in the middle suffer. 

After spending two months inside the Mazda 6, I find myself appreciating all the design details of the interior. The cabin is quiet, functional, and luxurious. It has a timeless design that should age incredibly well for years to come.












Infotainment
The infotainment system of the Mazda 6 is centered around the 8in color touchscreen located at the center of the deck. The screen is sharp and bright, but the large bazels on the sides can be a bit of an eyesore. The touchscreen itself is responsive, and the well laid out manual should take no more than a few minutes to get used to. Since 2018, both Android Auto and Apple Carplay have become standard. Once the car is in motion, the only ways to interact with the infotainment systems are either through the buttons on the steering wheel or through the command style round dial in the center console. The swivel dial is similar to those found in an Audi or a BMW. It provides great tactile feedback and is a treat to operate. A dedicated volume knob with an integrated mute button located on the side. 

Located at the center of the instrument panel is a decently sized LCD information display. While a large portion of the screen mimics a round analog dial, the rest of the screen displays trip information, vehicle status, and fuel information. While I do wish there are more customizable options for the instrument panel display, the excellent Active Driving Display of the car more than makes up for it. The heads-up is one of the best I have used. It incorporates navigational information with a traffic recognition system, as well as a blindspot warning system. The driver doesn't need to take his/her eyes off the road to obtain all the driving information needed to get from point A to point B.  

There are four usb ports in the Mazda 6. The two at the front are inside the storage bin under the front center armrest, the two in the back are hidden inside the rear center armrest. It would be hard to access the rear charging ports with a passenger in the middle. A better place for the charging ports would be below the rear air vents. 

The quiet cabin of the Mazda 6 is perfect for the premium Bose 11-speaker audio system. The Centerpoint surround sound system is easy to set up, and provides an immersive audio experience.






Safety and Driver Assistance
The 2020 Mazda 6 is a bargain with the amount of standard safety features included. The following features are standard for all trims:
  • Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) 
  • Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring (ABSM) 
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) 
  • Rearview camera (wide angle
  • Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
  • Front safety-belt pretensioners with force limiters
GLS and above also gets:
  • Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) with stop-and-go function 
  • Smart Brake Support (SBS) 
  • Pedestrian Detection (forward sensing) 
  • Distance Recognition Support System (DRSS)
  • Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW)
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) 
  • Lane-keep Assist System (LAS) 
  • High Beam Control System (HBC) 
  • Colour Multi-information Display (MID)
GT and above also come with:
  • 360° View Monitor
  • Front and rear parking sensors 
  • Windshield-projected colour Active Driving Display (ADD) 
  • Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR)
  • Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS)
It earns a 5 star safety rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS.


Driving
There are two engine options available to the Mazda 6 in North America: a 2.5L four-cylinder gasoline engine with cylinder deactivation, and a 2.5L turbocharged gasoline engine with dynamic pressure control. Mazda has teased about a 2.2L turbocharged diesel engine for the North American market, but it remains to be seen if it will actually happen. 

The naturally aspirated gasoline engine produces 187hp of power at 6000 rpm and 186lb.ft. of torque at  4000rpm. The turbocharged gasoline engine produces 250hp of power at 5000rpm and 310lb.ft. of torque at 2000rpm when running on 93 octane fuel. It is safe to run the turbocharged engine on regular 87 octane fuel, but the peak power drops to 227hp. The turbocharged engine has significantly more low end torque, and is much more satisfying to drive.

Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that is smooth and responsive. The Mazda 6 is only available as a front wheel drive car at the moment. I wish Mazda would bring back the excellent manual transmission for one of the higher trims, but I doubt there is enough demand to justify the move. 

On the road, the Mazda 6 once again proves to be the most fun-to-drive car in the segment. 0-100km happens in 7.6 seconds. It may not be the fastest sedan on the market, but there is plenty of torque off the line. The transmission is quick and smooth, and the car remains quiet even during hard accelerations. What really makes the Mazda 6 stand out from behind the wheel is how the car handles. The low center of gravity and the multi-link independent rear suspensions make the car feel planted on the ground. 

Advanced technologies work in the background to make you a better (happier) driver. The G Vector Control (GVC) system reduces the engine torque ever so slightly at the start of a turn to shift the car's weight to the front wheels. This increases tire grip and improves vehicle response. The torque is resumed once the car is in the corner and the weight distribution is restored. Upon exiting the turn, the GVC plus system applies a light braking force to the outer wheels, providing a stabilizing moment that helps restore the vehicle to a straight line. 

All the technologies help to make driving the car feel intuitive and predictable. This is the philosophy behind Mazda's JINBA ITTAI goal. Just like the symbiotic relationship developed over time by a horse and rider, Mazda wants their cars to feel like an extension of you. Just like how your muscles react to the environment before your head, the Mazda 6 reacts to driving inputs and road conditions without conscious efforts by the driver. To be one with your car, communication between the car and the driver is also important. The steering of the Mazda 6 is nicely weighted, and provides accurate feedback of the road condition to the driver. During my two months of test drive, I can't help but form a strong connection with the car. It makes parting with the Mazda 6 quite difficult at the end of the test drive. 

In terms of the fuel efficiency, the non-turbocharged version of the Mazda 6 is rated at 9.0L/100km city and 6.7 L/100km highway. The turbocharged version is rated at 10.0L/100km city and 7.5 L/100km highway. Our mostly city test drive returns a fuel economy rating of 10.2/100km combined. 

There is only one thing that really bothers me with the new Mazda 6, that is the key fob. The key fob is unceccesorrily big, and the cover is made of cheap plastics. The protruding buttons on the side are prone to being accidentally pressed. I found myself accidentally opening the trunk or unlocking the car on a few occasions. The solution is simple, get a silicone rubber cover for the remote. Not only does it protect your key from being scratched or accidentally pressed, but it also makes the key look much better in my opinion. 




Cargo Space & Storage
There is a healthy 416L (14.7cu.ft.) of trunk space behind the 60/40 split rear seats. If that is not enough, the rear seats fold flat to reveal a large opening to the cabin. The only releases for the seatbacks are in the trunk, but that is just a minor annoyance for me.

In cabin storage options are sufficient. The glove compartment and the storage bin under the center armrest are on the smaller side, but the side door pockets are deep. There are two additional cup holders and a storage bin in the rear folding armrest. Rear passengers can also stow thinner items in the pockets behind the front seats. 








Verdict
It is hard not to love the Mazda 6. The more time I spent with the car, the more I appreciated the thoughts put behind its designs. Not only does Mazda 6 look expensive, but it also feels extremely premium inside. The excellent handling and the smooth drivetrain put a smile on my face everytime I step on the gas. More importantly, the Mazda 6 offers tremendous value for the money. At under 40k, you will be hard pressed to find a car so equipped, looks this good, and drives this well. 

Now I do wish to see the diesel engine eventually make its way across the pond, and if the excellent six-speed manual transmission would return to one of the higher trims, I wouldn't hesitate to get one in a heartbeat. 
 
Test Vehicle
2020 Mazda6 Signature

MSRP
$39,150 CAD

Price as Tested
$41,450 CAD including Freight & PDE

Color
Soul Red Crystal Metallic

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