2011 Mazda6 GT-V6. Click image to enlarge
|Test Drive: 2012 Mazda6 GT-I4
Test Drive: 2011 Mazda6 GT-V6
Used Vehicle Review: Mazda6, 2003-2008
Manufacturer’s web site
By Chris Chase
Photos by Chris Chase and Greg Wilson
The Mazda we know now began in 2003, with the arrival of the first-generation Mazda6. This mid-sized family car was the first to be styled according to the company’s “Stylish, Insightful, and Spirited” design philosophy. It’s a look that would be popularized by the Mazda3, which came to market the following year.
The Mazda6 itself never achieved the kind of popularity Mazda hoped it would. Being a global design, it was sized more to fit narrower European and Japanese roadways, which made it too small to fit many North American families’ lifestyles. Whether it was actually too small for North America, or simply perceived that way, is an argument for another day. The limits of that car’s interior space ultimately limited its success here, so for its second go around with the Mazda6, its maker opted to design and build two different versions of the car: one for global markets, and a second specifically for North America, conceived to appeal to our supersized (and misplaced?) desire for big cars to fill up our big roadways and suburban parking lots.
In addition, the redesign pared the Mazda6 lineup down to a single sedan model, no doubt a major disappointment to the (not vocal enough, perhaps) minority who held the first-generation’s hatchback and station wagons body styles dear to their hearts.
2012 Mazda6 GT-I4 (top) and 2011 Mazda6 GT-V6. Click image to enlarge
Driving enthusiasts had a knock against this new car, too: you could no longer pair the optional V6 engine with a manual transmission. Now, if you wanted a stick shift, you were stuck with the new-for-2009 2.5L four-cylinder engine (170 hp/167 lb-ft of torque), and the also-new 3.7L V6 (272 hp/269 lb-ft) was offered only with a six-speed automatic. A five-speed auto was the option for four-cylinder cars.
No matter what you put under the hood, the new 6 was a good-looking car that, in base GS four-cylinder trim, came standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, A/C, heated outside mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, trip computer, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows/locks/mirrors, keyless entry, cruise and tilt/telescopic steering. An available Comfort Package added stability control, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, sunroof, leather-trimmed steering wheels, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights. A GT Luxury Package brought “smart” keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, ten-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, satellite radio compatibility and xenon headlights.
Choosing the GS V6 got you fog lights, too.
The GT V6 model got xenon headlights and a driver’s seat memory function, and choosing the GT Luxury Package here added blind spot monitoring and puddle lamps.
For 2010, all changes were in trim: certain models lost previously standard features, while others gained standard kit that was previously only available at extra cost.
2009 Mazda6 GT-V6 (top) and 2009 Mazda6 GS-I4. Click image to enlarge
2011 was a year for more significant changes. All models got improved fuel economy, and stability control was made standard across the line. Beyond that, all updates were in trim and revisions to optional and standard equipment.
Not much was different for 2012 or 2013. The third-generation Mazda6 was revealed in August 2012, at the Moscow International Auto Show, and is expected to go on sale as a 2014 model.
According to Natural Resources Canada, the most efficient Mazda6 in 2009 was a four-cylinder with the five-speed automatic, rated at 9.7/6.7 L/100 km (city/highway), while the stick shift model’s ratings were 10.4/6.9 L/100 km. The V6/six-speed auto combo’s numbers were 12.1/8.0. Economy improved for 2011, though not terribly meaningfully, to 9.4/6.5 for a four-cylinder automatic model, 9.8/6.6 for a four-cylinder/stick shift, and 11.9/7.9 for a V6/auto model.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s more realistic testing procedures for the more efficient 2011 models yielded results of 10.7/7.6 L/100 km for the four-cylinder/automatic model, 11.2/7.8 with four-cylinder/manual, and 13.1/8.7 for the V6/auto version.
At the time this was written, in August 2012, the second-generation Mazda6 has been in the hands of owners for as long as four years (for 2009 models, which went on sale in 2008), and thus far, reliability seems quite good. There doesn’t appear to be much to watch for (yet) in these cars, which compares favourably to the first-generation’s litany of trouble spots, minor as many of them might be.