February 8, 2013
The very pinnacle of the Mazda6 line is the GT with $2,000 Technology Package at an entirely reasonable $34,195 (though it also is a grand steeper than top-trim base-engine models from Honda and VW), packing such gadgets as SiriusXM satellite radio, Smart City Brake Support (a collision avoidance/reduction braking system), forward obstruction warning, adaptive cruise control, high-beam control system, and lane departure warning system. Come June, this package will also add iELOOP, Mazda’s braking energy recuperation system that feeds into a capacitor that then powers many electrical systems whenever it is charged.
2014 Mazda6. Click image to enlarge
It may be worth noting that this package is not available with the manual transmission, which seems a shrewd move on Mazda’s part – I mean, if you want a manual transmission, there’s a not unreasonable chance that you prefer to control your car and have less patience for all these excessive driving nannies. About the only thing I would gripe about would be the satellite radio, but if you like satellite radio that much, you can just as easily stream it via Bluetooth from an external device, which you can then take with you away from the car.
You may be wondering why I have yet to address one of Mazda’s key selling points: its driving dynamics. Well, I had to leave something juicy at the end to keep you reading through the trims, didn’t I?
Well, not to make too much of it, but this car goes straight to the head of the class. Without driving it back to back with its competitors, I can’t peg it exactly, but having just completed our own Family Sedan Comparison Test, I can safely say that this car could easily hang with the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord in terms of balanced driving dynamics, and like the Accord also offers a suitably composed and comfortable ride over all surfaces, though perhaps not to the same degree, displaying a bit of roughness on sharp bumps.
The steering ratio is near as quick as the Miata’s at 15.5:1, and while not as viscerally connected to the road, it never falters or leaves you guessing how much grip you have left, with progressive turn in and firm responsiveness in turns. It’s no sports car, but it sure was a hoot to drive up and down the selection of curving, undulating roads surrounding the Austin, Texas area.