Originally published March 20, 2015.
It’s been just over two years since the redesigned Mazda6 sedan arrived on our shores and despite overwhelmingly positive reviews from Canadian auto scribes, including its selection as AJAC Canadian Car of the Year in 2014, sales have been slow. In fact, Mazda6 sales were down 28.4 percent in 2014 and the company sold just over 3,000 units last year, far fewer than class leaders Ford Fusion (18,472), Honda Accord (16,962), Toyota Camry (16,029) and Hyundai Sonata (13,645).
It’s difficult to say why Mazda’s mid-size sedan has failed to capture the imagination of Canadian consumers like the enormously successful Mazda3 has. One factor may be that the Mazda6 is available with only one powerplant, a normally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, whereas its competitors offer additional V6 or turbocharged four-cylinder powerplants as well as hybrid models. A diesel version of the Mazda6 is still being studied for Canada, but as yet, there is no official confirmation when it will be introduced – and whether this will boost sales significantly is debatable.
This year’s mid-cycle refresh may spark increased interest in Mazda’s mid-size sedan. The 2016 Mazda6 was introduced in January, 2015 with subtle exterior styling changes, a redesigned instrument panel and centre console, improved fit and finish, standard rear heated seats, more sound insulation, improved active safety technology, and three new exterior colours.
The exterior styling differences are hard to spot: look closely and you’ll see an additional sixth slat in the grille, slightly thicker chrome trim surrounding the grille, new ‘eyebrow’ treatment over the headlights, new chrome trim around the fog light housing and new darker gunmetal 19-inch alloys and LED headlights and fog lights on the top GT trim. GT models also get a special illuminated lower grille that gives it a distinct look at night. The changes are designed to give the 2016 Mazda6 a bolder and more elegant look and it certainly looks stylish, although so did the last one. The 2016 Mazda6 is also available in two new exterior colours: Sonic Silver Metallic and Titanium Flash Mica.
Inside, there is a new instrument panel and console. The Mazda6’s three-pod gauge cluster remains but now includes extra displays for the radar cruise control and lane departure warning system in the right-hand pod. As well, vehicles with the head-up display include a small, flip-up screen on top of the instrument shroud that can display speed and cruise control functions.
The upper surface of the new dash now slopes down towards the cabin creating a more open and spacious feeling, and a new, larger stand-alone screen with brighter graphics replaces the previous integrated touchscreen on GS and GT trims and the basic radio screen on the GX trim. The new 7-inch screen no longer has pushbuttons and dials around its perimeter; all audio, phone, and navigation functions are controlled by the large round dial (HMI Commander Switch) and surrounding buttons on the centre console.