Middle – 2014 Mazda6, in red; bottom – 2013 Honda Accord, also in red. Click image to enlarge
Review by Brendan McAleer, photos by Brendan McAleer and Autos.ca staff
Originally published March 18, 2013
All things considered, it really would be best if the Mazda6 pictured above was brown.
Sure, the swelling lines of the ’6 would look rich and luscious in a deep metallic colour, in the spirit of the brownnaissance that’s sweeping through the auto industry (Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are suddenly fond of using the hue in press shots) – but that’s not what’s behind my reasoning. No, brown would be appropriate because what we’ve got here is the oldest taste-test in the book: Vanilla versus Chocolate.
Luckily, the Accord happens to be the right colour, same as my washer and dryer; possibly the same as your iPod. So, an apparent contest between an appliance and a four-door Miata – should be an easy victory for the Mazda, right? Not quite.
While the compact car market remains Canada’s largest volume segment in terms of vehicle sales, buying a mid-sized family car isn’t quite the emotionless choice that selecting an A-to-B commuter can be. Sure, you need some everyday four-door essentials, but this is a big purchase and come Sunday morning, you’ll probably be proudly washing it in the driveway with the kids.
The folks who buy, lease or finance a mid-sized family sedan are likely to bring it home, park it out front and surreptitiously check to see whether the neighbours are peeping through the curtains enviously. You want something practical, but also something you can be proud of.
Almost immediately, you have to hand it to Mazda’s styling team for sculpting probably the best-looking mid-sized car on the market bar the Ford Fusion. Some of the long-hood-short-deck profile is due to packaging considerations for the Mazda’s high-compression engine (more on that later), but you’d be hard-pressed to find an angle from which the Mazda6 doesn’t look the proverbial million bucks.
Riding around the tony neighbourhood of West Vancouver, where 911s are more common than Vee-Dubs and Audi/BMW ownership is practically a compulsory city bylaw, my GT-trim tester still manages to turn a few heads. It looks more expensive than it is.
In comparison, the Accord aims not to offend anyone’s palate too much and mostly succeeds. Sport trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a subtle rear spoiler and chrome exhaust tips by way of decorating a conservative, squared-off shape.
And yet, somehow it all works. The Honda might lack the initial flash of the Mazda, but it has lines that will still look classically good when it’s five years old with hood chips and parking-lot door-dings. Think of it as good bone structure – nothing fades faster than cutting-edge style.
What’s more, a few points have to be deducted from the Mazda as only the expensive GT trim wears the 19-inch big shoes to fill out the wheel wells. 17-inch alloys are standard on the GX and GS trims – and they look fine. However, the 18-inchers on the Honda come as the very first upgrade over stock.
2014 Mazda6 (left) & 2013 Honda Accord (right). Click image to enlarge
Anyone who’s purchased a new vehicle in the past few years knows how laughably optimistic Natural Resources Canada can be in reporting average fuel consumption. Still, on paper the Mazda6 pips the Accord handily at just 7.6/5.1 L/100 km city/highway versus the Accord’s 8.7/5.7 rating.
Those figures are an automatic-to-automatic comparison by the way, but my Mazda6 tester was actually a six-speed manual that is rated a few tenths of a litre worse than the excellent Mazda six-speed auto, yet still ahead of the CVT-equipped Honda Accord. However, we can extrapolate from the results.