CleanMPG's First Drive Review of the 2014 Mazda6

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by xcel, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG]The all-new 2014 Mazda6 is unleashed on an unsuspecting public!

    [fflash=left][/fflash]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Feb. 1, 2013

    Derek Jenkins, Director of Design Mazda North America provides an overview of the all-new 2014 Mazda6 exterior design.

    The all-new 2014 Mazda6 - $20,880 to start and provides future owners with a 26/38 and 25/37 mpgUS city/highway rating with the 6-speed automatic and 6-speed manual respectively.

    Austin, TX -- Approximately 80 miles southwest of this fiercely independent Capitol of Texas is an old Spanish Mission turned into a bastion. Its claim to fame is it is called “The Alamo.”

    With 189 men behind its walls, the fort held on for 13 days against a large Mexican Army contingent with men numbering almost ten times its own.

    During the last days, the Alamo commander Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As defenders, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender.

    The final assault came from all four directions and began just before daybreak as wave upon wave of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness headed for the Alamo's walls. The defenders beat back several attacks but in the end they were overrun and killed ruthlessly almost to the last man.

    The Alamo was a heroic struggle against impossible odds and while life and liberty are not in question today, a small auto manufacturer named Mazda is up against similar odds in its own battle for business survival. Its Alamo is something we have heard mentioned here hundreds of times before. That being SKYACTIV.

    SKYACTIV Technology includes a suite of technologies including advanced high strength steel bodies, rigid yet lightweight chassis, efficient engines and transmissions with the goal to increase fuel economy 30% by 2015 from a 2008 baseline.

    What a difference a generation makes

    [fflash=right][/fflash]Tim Barnes, Mazda North America Director of Product Planning giving us an overview of the segment and interior of the all-new 2014 Mazda6.

    The all-new third generation 2014 Mazda6 features an all new exciting exterior design while providing owners with what can easily be called the best handling affordable midsize available anywhere.

    Weighing in at 85 pounds less than its predecessor, the new Mazda6 is equipped with a more powerful 2.5L SKYACTIV-G engine providing 14 more HP, 18 lb-ft. more torque and a 20% jump in fuel economy thanks to the technology spelled out in the How Does Mazda’s 2.0L Gas Engine with a 13 to 14.0:1 CR Not Knock? SKYACTIV write-up.

    Even with a loss of 4 cu. ft. of cargo and passenger volume from the previous generation 6, the all-new Mazda6 provides ample rear seat room while improving upon what makes Mazda a household word at racetracks across the country. That provision includes a superior handling at the limits automobile that pays dividends in every day driving by being far more engaging and “fun to drive” than anything in its class!

    Meet the 2014 Mazda6

    During its US reveal at the 2012 LA Auto Show the 2014 Mazda6 proved to be more than eye candy, the 2014 Mazda6 in Soul Red Metallic looks that good, with the promise of even more to come over and above the current Atkinsonized 2.5L SKYACTIV-G.

    The all-new 2014 Mazda6 sports sedan features Mazda’s signature “KODO” Design language consisting of the five point vertical grille, twisting flowing lines both inside and out, and a cab rearward design giving it a “stand out from the crowd” silhouette.

    2014 Mazda6 Specifications

    The 2014 Mazda6 is available in three trims, the Sport, Touring and Grant Touring (GT). Complete pricing, options and specifications can be found on the 2014 Mazda6 Specifications page.

    2014 Mazda6 Exterior

    How do you describe what has already been described by a Chief designer in the video above already?

    Great design has become a “must have” in the Mazda6 vernacular vs. “should have” within some midsize competitors circles. From the SHINARI Concept and near final layout TAKERI Concept, the new 2014 Mazda6 incorporates an elongated hood, cab-rearward stance, multiple sweeping character lines and a complete chrome trimmed day light opening. All together the design provides an all-new very modern and sophisticated appearance no matter the angle from which it is viewed.

    The new five-point chrome “signature wing” front grille and eagle-eye shaped headlamps with menacing projector lamps behind simply says “Get the hell out of my way.” The lower front fascia with that aerodynamic chin spoiler also adds to the new 6’s “Don’t screw with me” mystique.

    2014 Mazda6

    Profile feature lines highlighted in red.​

    The long hood and flowing front fenders curve and twist across the A-pillar as another sweeping lower curve sweeps down toward the rear. Another third feature line appears through the rear door and into the wraparound rear taillight lens before blending into the rear with the three dimensional matching chrome trim embedded within the trunk lid adds a touch of luxury.

    Altogether the design language is not only classy but amazingly efficient with a coefficient of drag as low as 0.26, the current best in the mid-size sedan segment.

    The 2014 Mazda6 is built on a 111.4 in. wheelbase and is a lean mean fighting machine with 17 in alloys standard on the Sport and 19 in alloys standard on the Touring and Grand Touring Trims.

    2014 Mazda6 Interior

    Soft touch dash and door materials where they belong plus leather wrapped wheel and
    shifter, and upscale satin chrome around door handles, instruments, and wheel.​

    Only the smallish 5.8 in display stands out as being a cost cutting move.

    The high end Bose and base infotainment sound was adequate but not eye opening. A Fender designed sound system would have done the Mazda6 justice.

    The instrument cluster is easily readable in bright sun and the standard three-spoke racing-inspired smaller rim diameter but thicker wheel itself is leather-wrapped as is the shifter knob on all trims. Tilt-and-telescopic wheel plus steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls are also standard.

    A cloth textured headliner is standard fair in this class while the cloth textured A-pillar covering is a class above adornment versus everything in the segment using cheap plastic covers instead. Control stalks are tactile, robust with easy to decipher print.

    Passenger room is ample both front and rear with plenty of headroom for someone up to 6 ft. 4 in or thereabouts. Rear seat legroom was adequate as well. I found the Sport trim cloth seats to be more comfortable than the leather trimmed ones in the Grand Touring. A 60/40-split fold-down feature is standard for the rear and six- or eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seats are standard on all but the Sport model, which is equipped with a six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat.

    Noise intrusion was a bit on the high side as there was wind noise around the lower A-pillars at speed and tire road noise apparent while driving on the rougher pavement around Austin.

    Rear seating was adequate although there was little lower thigh support for taller persons
    and a duck of your head to get into and out of the rear coupe like roof was mandatory.​

    2014 Mazda6 Drivetrain

    [fflash=right][/fflash]Ruben Archilla, Mazda North America Group Manager, Advanced Engineering R&D provides some insight into the SKYACTIV chassis and drivetrain design.

    The 2014 Mazda6 offers a single engine consisting of the 13:1 compression ratio, 184 hp and 185 lb-ft. of torque direct injected 2.5L SKYACTIV-G mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission in the Sport trim (Touring later this summer) or 6-speed automatic available in all trims. In practice the 2.5L with the 6-speed AT is powerful enough to break the 9-second mark to 60 while driving uphill with over 500 pounds of people and gear onboard!

    The Automatic will loaf in high gear down to 1,200 RPM yet a quick stab of the accelerator will see a downshift with lots of power on tap. In addition, the 6-speed AT locks up much quicker than previous ATs allowing for not only improved fuel economy but quicker launches with far less torque converter slip.

    The stick is a slick shifting unit similar to the 2013 Mazda CX-5 we reviewed last year. It incorporates short, smooth and precise throws and is precise enough to not miss a gear in over 75 miles of thousand turn roads while behind the windscreen of the MT equipped Mazda6.

    And where does the improved engine performance and efficiency come from? SKYACTIV technology has provided the following by comparison to its immediate predecessor.
    • 74% less oil pump drag
    • 31% less water pump drag
    • 25% less reciprocating drag
    • 50% less valvetrain friction
    • 27% less belt drive drag
    • 20% less pumping loss (it is an Atkinson cycle engine)
    The engine we are really waiting for is the 2.2L SKYACTIV-D turbo diesel. Power, torque and fuel economy specs are not yet available from the engine scheduled to make its appearance in the second half of 2013. The hold up? T2B5 emissions tuning.

    Regarding i-ELOOP, Mazda’s Capacitor Based Automotive Regenerative Braking System, it is meant to recuperate 10% of the engine’s output (we are talking output, not total work here) used to generate electricity. The system will not be available until the May-June time frame and in North America, will not be combined with a basic or Mazda's own i-Stop Start/Stop system.

    A unique characteristic of the advanced regenerative braking system is it can go from empty to full charged in just 8 seconds of brake application while supplying the Mazda6 with a low 12V load for minute(s). That was indeed plural!

    2014 Mazda6 Ride and Handling

    Ride was good on smoother roads and only became a bit rough when the roadway consisted of gravel or chipped stone makeup. The routes we were provided had very few highway miles so I cannot add much about expansion joints at higher straight-line speeds.

    Handling did you say? Game, Set, Match. The all-new Passat has confident handling albeit a bit on the heavy side. The all-new Accord is light on its feet but lacks the ease of which the Mazda6 simply goes. Turn in was exemplary and road feel was typical Mazda. It really is that good leaving the rest of the segment behind. Whether that means a decreasing radius curve at twice the suggested limit or a long off-camber sweeper while coming down off of a steeper mountain grade, the all-new 2014 Mazda6 feels planted, stable and inspiring. When your Chief R&D Engineer, chief tuning tech, and Head of Marketing race cars, trucks, motorcycles and whatever else they can get their hands on, you can bet the cars tuned for the rest of us will be every bit as good. And they are. The only item I experienced in over 100 miles of “hitting it” on winding roads curvy enough to make a Billy goat puke was stability control arrived a few milliseconds late on one particularly rough tight entry way turn.

    2014 Mazda6 Safety

    Active Safety features include Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with 4-wheel discs, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), with Traction Control (TC), Brake Assist (BA), Hill Launch Assist (HLA), fold-away brake pedal assembly, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and LATCH. Hill Launch Assist worked particularly well with the manual.

    Passive Safety includes a passenger safety cell and body structure made of 58% high-tensile and ultra high-tensile strength steels, door reinforcement’s and a chassis specifically designed to take on the IIHS small overlap crash test with straighter rails, better welds, and even multiple edge uni-body structures adding strength without additional weight. Advanced front, side and side curtain airbags are ready in case of the unexpected.

    Touring models feature a Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) as standard equipment with the Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) available. Grand Touring models feature BSM and SCBS, RCTA and an Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) as standard equipment. Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) and High Beam Control (HBC) are available as part of an optional package.

    The 2014 Mazda6 has not yet been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA. I will be sure to post the results as soon as they are made available.

    2014 Mazda6 Fuel Economy

    Since this was a first drive, I only had the averaging fuel consumption display (aFCD) to judge by. In addition, the routes laid out by Mazda were meant to demonstrate the all-new 6s ride and handling capability with 20 to 40 mph blind corners, steep hills and descents and hundreds of turns over any given 50-mile stretch. For the real results, we’ll have to complete our standard testing locally but even in the midst of those “vomit comet” crazy routes, the AT provided an indicated 38 mpgUS, the MT provided an indicated 41 mpg while doing nothing more than hanging on and a 61 mpg result when I had 10-minutes of lighter suburban roadways complete with school buses, school zones and even heavier traffic.

    It is the 2.2 L SKYACTIV-D turbo diesels that will hopefully break world records while the 2.5 L SKYACTIV-G direct injected gasoline engines should do well enough to keep its owners happy. Especially if they are long haul highway drivers as the Mazda6 with the 6-speed AT appears to achieve 38 mpgUS rating up to 70 mph.

    2014 Mazda6 Conclusions

    You will have to spend a lot more to look this good.​

    From a “looks” standpoint, there is no better midsize available right now. The all-new 2013 Fusion is close but that gaping mouth attached harms it. The Sonata Limited is still a good looker but 3 years later, it could use a little something. The Optima is also a good looker but unless you get into the Limited, it lacks the same presence. Accord is closer than it was in the past but still falls way short. Altima is not bad but does not have the curb appeal. If you want an attention getting midsize, the all-new 2014 Mazda6 has all you need and more.

    From the inside, the Sport felt really good after a half-day of driving. I am not sure why but the Grand Touring leatherette trimmed bolsters felt a bit stiff and intrusive? The leather wrapped wheel with tight inside rim stitching felt good in my hands. In back, taller folks will probably wish for something else after a few hours due to the flat angle seat bottoms providing a limited amount of thigh support.

    Handling: Why the rest bother showing up is the real question.

    Straight line performance: With only ¾ of a mile of semi-straight flat road in over 100 miles of driving the 2.5L SKYACTIV-G for a simple 0 to 60 result, we’ll have to wait. The SKYACTIV-D turbo diesel? It will probably be almost as quick and we are all hoping for another 20% increase in fuel economy. That will have to wait just a few more months as well and if you are like me, it is going to be a long few months.

    The Alamo became a rallying cry for the eventual independence of Texas. With Mazda fighting tooth and nail for every sale, they will never match Honda or Toyota but this SKYACTIV tech gives them a fighting chance. The all-new 2014 Mazda6 provides everything that the SKYACTIV rallying cry promised including a winner amongst lesser rivals. That is if the future midsize sedan buyers remembers this “small company that does” instead of that “large company that does not.”
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
  2. priusCpilot

    priusCpilot George

    Re: Mazda January 2013 Sales down 11.2% + 2014 Mazda6 First Drive

    I guess I-Eloop isn't on the model test? Is that an option or something coming down the road?
  3. 300kmileprius

    300kmileprius Well-Known Member

    Re : Mazda January 2013 Sales down 11.2% + 2014 Mazda6 First Drive

    The new Mazda 6 makes the two look really silly....
  4. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: Mazda January 2013 Sales down 11.2% + 2014 Mazda6 First Drive

    Hi PriusCpilot:

    i-ELOOP is not Stop/Start for us in North America but is scheduled to arrive in the May-June time frame. I have another vid (Interior by Mazda's Director of Product Planning, Tim Barnes) to incorporate and will add the i-ELOOP detail when it is finally uploaded, I just finished designing and rendering the monster an hour or so ago and its uploading to YouTube as I type.

  5. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Re: Mazda January 2013 Sales down 11.2% + 2014 Mazda6 First Drive

    Saw the new 6 at our local auto show recently. Very impressive, especially the mpg. I hope the MT is available in reasonable numbers. WAYYY too huge of a car for me want to deal with in the city, but I just hope this kind of mpg tech keeps trickling down to their more modestly proportioned vehicles.
  6. jcp123

    jcp123 Caliente!

    Re: Mazda January 2013 Sales down 11.2% + 2014 Mazda6 First Drive

    I would love to get my own hands on a diesel model myself...honestly, I agree, this car appears to be an all-around strong contender in the midsize market. Any word on the resurrection of a wagon model?
  7. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: Mazda January 2013 Sales down 11.2% + 2014 Mazda6 First Drive

    Hi JCP:

    Just Europe for now.

  8. jcp123

    jcp123 Caliente!

    Re: Mazda January 2013 Sales down 11.2% + 2014 Mazda6 First Drive

    That figures.
  9. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    2014 Mazda6 earns a 'TOP SAFETY PICK+' by the IIHS

    [fflash=left][/fflash]This morning the all-new 2014 Mazda6 today earned a "Top Safety Pick+" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Mazda6 is the first Mazda to earn this new, more demanding designation by receiving a rating of "Good" on frontal moderate overlap, side, roof, and head restraint tests, and "Acceptable" on the new small overlap test.

    While not quite as good as the all-new 2013 Accord, I would say it was on par with the 2013 Passat and better than the Altima and Fusion.

    The IIHS introduced the small overlap test in 2012 and replicates what happens when the front corner of a car collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a car's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph.

    The 2014 Mazda6 is equipped with Mazda's all-new suite of SKYACTIV technologies – engine, transmission, body and chassis – all working together to deliver outstanding driving performance and fuel efficiency. The SKYACTIV-Body and Chassis ensure that the vehicle structure is not only reinforced and quiet but also rigid and able to absorb extreme impacts. The SKYACTIV-Body is comprised of 61 percent high-tensile steel, creating a lighter, stronger body with superior handling while the SKYACTIV-Chassis weighs less than current Mazda platforms and includes a front strut suspension and a multi-link rear format along with an assortment of design changes.

  10. priusCpilot

    priusCpilot George

    That crash video broke my hart :(
  11. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

  12. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    I spoke with some of the Mazda reps in NY regarding the SKYACTIV-Ds release date. While still on its way, it is delayed until at the earliest late summer. Because of the emissions profile and no after treatment, no stick will be offered in the US either :ccry:

  13. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    :( thats a major bummer on the delay and the lack of a stick.
  14. jcp123

    jcp123 Caliente!

    Eek. If the lack of 3rd row or at least a wagon seating didn't check it off my list already, that surely does.
  15. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    Earlier today the 2014 Mazda6 was named "Best New Vehicle At Atlanta International Auto Show"

    The Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association (GAAMA) named the 2014 Mazda6 "Best New Vehicle" at the Atlanta International Auto Show.

    According to GAAMA, the new Mazda6 has a mix of all the right things for a great car: reliability, outstanding fuel efficiency, stunning design and affordable pricing.

    Completely redesigned for 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-Body and SKYACTIV-Chassis ensure that the vehicle structure is not only reinforced and quiet but also rigid and able to absorb impact. The SKYACTIV-Body is comprised of 61 percent high-tensile steel, creating a lighter, stronger body with superior handling while the SKYACTIV-Chassis weighs less than current Mazda platforms and includes a front strut suspension and a multi-link rear format along with an assortment of design changes.

  16. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    i-Eloop is now listed under 'Advanced package' and only available for Touring.
    That pushes the base price north of any sedan hybrid competitors unfortunately.

    I don't see i-Stop anywhere mentioned. I assume that's Europe only.
  17. SI_Prius

    SI_Prius Well-Known Member

    Performance and torque is definitely on the diesel side, 20% increase in fuel economy, I doubt.

    I'm from Europe and very much like the Mazda 6, I haven't driven it, but here a diesel version is selling from the start, and almost all reviewers here test the diesel version.
    Reviewers are geting similar or worse results than VW Passat.

    Here is some real world data from

    And lab testing from ADAC:

    I think the real winner here is gasoline version, it may not get in diesel territory if you measure fuel by volume, but if you account for higher diesel energy value, the gasoline version is only around 5% lower in fuel efficiency.

    I'm really interested what hypermilers on this site will get from both of this versions, will the increase in fuel economy really be 20%?
  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    When the Mazda6 first arrived last week, I knocked out the calibration drive. Temps between 62 and 71 degrees with little to no wind.

    66.4 mpg over 66.1 miles displayed, 71.1 miles actual.
    Top off to top off revealed 65.0 mpg actual.​

    Late last night I completed the steady states and will try and get a speed vs. FE graph up later today.

  19. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    A decent pic of the Mazda6 taken late last week.


    Took my mom out for an ice cream in it last night and one of the people in the parking lot said, "that car is sharp..."

    I agreed :)

  20. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I've seen a couple "in the wild" now, and it looks even better in real life.

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