2014 Mazda6 GS
2014 Mazda6 GS
2014 Mazda6 GS. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Justin Pritchard

When you’re cruising just that little bit past the posted highway speed limit, the 2014 Mazda6’s 2.5-litre engine spins away at a snudge over 2,000 rpm in sixth gear. Fuel is blasted directly into its cylinders at extreme pressure. Then, it’s compressed at a 13:1 ratio, exploded, and evacuated through a supercomputer-designed exhaust manifold that helps spent gas leave the scene faster than Lindsay Lohan after a car crash.

And that’s just some of the stuff that comprises Mazda’s Skyactiv technology. A super-slippery manual transmission and lightweight frame structure are a couple of the others. It all works towards the promise of envelope-pushing fuel consumption figures, without having to move into a diesel or hybrid. In fact, this 184-hp Skyactiv engine works just the same way as any other internal combustion engine – just more efficiently.

There’s a full-blown war being waged against friction and wasted energy inside this engine just a few feet ahead of the driver, but you’d hardly know it. That’s because the Skyactiv mill that powers every new ‘6 operates with near-nil levels of noise or vibration. It starts in eerie smooth silence, even when it’s been sitting all night at 20 below. Driving casually through town, you could forget to upshift because the engine gives virtually no indication that it’s working until you wind the pants off of it – which you probably won’t, because that’s bad on gas.

Of course, I had to try – it is my job after all. In the process, several passengers and I noted that, particularly at high revs, this thing hauls along real nice for a four-banger. Low-end torque, enhanced partially by a trick variable valve timing system, is also impressive, and adds to a sense of quiet responsiveness during in-town driving.

But, most of the time, this is a car that’s going to get driven gently. And when you drive it gently, you’ll probably smile complacently at just how quiet and laid back it all is.

2014 Mazda6 GS2014 Mazda6 GS2014 Mazda6 GS2014 Mazda6 GS
2014 Mazda6 GS. Click image to enlarge

Or, if you’re like me and a big fan of the original Mazda6, you might wish it was sportier. Sure –that original ‘6 was smaller, less comfortable, less refined, and had a harsher ride. But it was a mischievously entertaining thing to drive – to the point that its playful handling largely set it apart in the market.

That first ‘6 steered like a sports car, ripped through curves like a plasma torch through tin-foil, and could be coaxed into a drift via a quick throttle-lift in the middle of a hot corner. The original Mazda6 was some of the most fun you could have in an affordable sedan on an empty backroad without getting an awkward phone call nine months later.

But in the new ‘6, the softer suspension and quieter engine and electronic throttle smoothing all but prevent such monkey business. It feels more upmarket, mature, level-headed and sensible. Most will be just fine with the blending of comfort with slightly sporty dynamics, though an enthusiast driver will want a more engaging experience.

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