2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Mazda Canada

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2009 Mazda6

Is that a bulge in your fender, or are you just happy to see me?

Like most of the competing sedan clan, the new Mazda6 appears to adopt the current design philosophy of bigger, bolder, and just a smidge of DeNiro Taxi Driver attitude. “You looking at me” sells, and styling bravado on even the likes of the Toyota Camry is the be-all for the ’nuff said. Much like the original 6 in ’04, the ’09 version continues to bank on the Zoom-Zoom sport retort to the practical magic of the Camry, Accord, and Altima. Sinful as it may be, the Inside Story refuses to be swayed by long, curving lines, wrapped in a sensual red wrapper, with leather-wrapped controls itching to be mastered. Uhm, where was I? Oh, right. This week’s 6 is a GT V6 model, equipped with the Luxury Package, for an MSRP of $35,060. (Prices shown do not reflect freight, taxes, or regional incentives.)

The cockpit/centre stack

The revised cockpit is familiar, with the expected red-faced gauges and spot-on steering wheel controls for the cruise, audio, and voice-activated functions, such as the LuxPack Bluetooth interface.

2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6. Click image to enlarge

It appears to have some similarities to the Ford Sync system, though this scribe found the re-instigation of the Bluetooth handshake to be anything but a cinch. The wheel is a manual tilt and telescope, with Auto headlamps on the turn signal stalk, and GT-specific rain-sensing wiper swipe. Push-button start is all the rage, but the Mazda6 set-up has left my scalp dry, and scratched.

The steering column still retains the factory keyhole, accessed by popping off the cover with the key hidden in the keyless key fob. The engine start button is set in the centre stack, below the HVAC, low and left. Zoom-Zoom? How’s about Why-Why? There has to be a more attractive way to add this feature, especially since the placement of the push-start has eliminated any hope for a useable storage cubby. Do I have to start scrawling on the pic’s a la John Madden to get the point across? There’s Room-Room for a switch closer to column/IP country.

HVAC controls offer dual frontal zone tuning, as well as Auto settings. The six-CD audio head unit is Sirius ready. To the left of the wheel is another conundrum of controls, which includes the traction control cancel, a Blind Spot Monitoring System, and the manual leveling control for the HID headlamps. That’s right; manual. The driver is expected to set the angle of the HID’s, dependent on vehicle load. Good luck with that. The Blind Spot system uses indicator lamps embedded in the exterior mirror glass, to warn of things you should be noticing by actually using the mirrors. The power trunk release is included in this switch mix. The driver’s door pod provides Auto ascent/descent for the front panes, with power controls for the exterior heated mirrors, which are also equipped with underbelly approach lamps. The six-speed automatic shows its sporting nature, with a manual floor gate. If only it had steering wheel-mounted fun paddles.

Cubbies!

There’s no denying that today’s vehicles require the War and Peace owner’s literature that they’re saddled with, but I’ve got a coupon for a Timmy’s for the first manufacturer who finds a better stowage method than overwhelming the glovebox, like the 6’s locking cubby. Front doors get storage pockets with bottle holder provisions. The rear doors keep their panels intact, opting for rear seatback pocket storage. The rear centre armrest plops into place, with dual cupholders. The front console cupholder is hidden by a flip-top door, with a removable partition that offered nary a cinch for popular java receptacles. The flip-up dash-top storage is all but a memory.

2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6. Click image to enlarge

(Too many roasted sunglasses?) There are two 12-volt DC powerpoints. The first port is behind a flip-up door below the HVAC. The second is found in the centre console, accompanied by an auxiliary audio jack. The console lid can slide fore and aft for armrest comfort.

The overhead

Meet a wiser visor, with plenty of slide action for sunblock, and dual backlit vanity mirrors. The interior rear-view mirror adds a Homelink package at this trim level. Who knew you could class up a sunroof wind deflector? This 6 does just that, with a robust alloy finish unit.

Seat treat

The driver’s seat has no shortage of adjustments, with eight-way power push, manual lumbar bladder, and three memory settings. Even the front passenger seat gets four-way power glide. Two-step heat warms the front passenger hides. The IS Comfort Dummy returned no complaints, though his readout did mention that the rear seatback position seemed to achieve too much reclination. At least, that’s what he said after he woke up from Nap Time with his Binky.

Cargo embargo

That’s the flat, Matt! We’re not sure who this Matt guy is, but the good news for the 6 is rear folding 60/40 seatbacks that really know their place for cargo conundrums. The seatbacks are released by trunk-mounted tethers. If the front passenger seatback had the ability to flip forward, I could have picked up my deck package. OK, maybe two trips.

Spare care

Beneath that downright structural looking piece of plastic is the standard issue emergency spare tire. Mazda will change it for you, during the first three years of ownership, with no mileage limit.

The mill

Brawnier Mazda6 bodies have not spawned easier access to V6 front-drive mills, as evidenced by the tight fit of this 3.7-litre 272-horsepower DOHC V6. At least there are no fluid fill issues, but why am I still fiddling with a hood prop rod for this kind of bread?

The Verdict

Here’s the neat part about the 6; it can be fixed. Ditch the push-button start, steer some Loonies in the direction of an auto-leveling HID system, throw in a cup cincher, and we’re easily looking at five stars for 6, instead of this week’s four. And fix it so I can haul lumber in it.

Next week: Toyota Sienna

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