A reassuring ride

June 24, 2010
by Tony Whitney and Tim Dimopoulos

With 18-inch cast alloy wheels and impressively bright xenon headlights, the car boasts a very sporty look.
Photo: Mazda

The Mazda6, which made its second-generation debut in 2007 at the Frankfurt auto show in Germany, competes in one of the most lucrative segments in the vehicle industry—that of a full-featured mid-size sedan.

Only compact sedans and hatchbacks (like the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Ford Focus and so on) can claim more buyers in Canada; since they cost less, they don’t deliver the rewards to automakers that mid-size cars do. That leaves the Mazda6 to do battle with the likes of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru Legacy and at least half a dozen other rivals.

Global success The first-generation Mazda6 made its debut in 2002 as a more stylish and competitive successor to the old 626 that had been around for many years. Mazda’s aim was to make its new car better to look at, more fun to drive and as lavishly equipped as its reasonable price would allow. In the current model, the company seems to have hit the target with regards to all three of these major design and engineering elements.

The Mazda6 in its various forms has been solidly successful in many markets around the world. So far, well over a million have been sold. By the way, if you’re looking to rent one on a trip to Japan, don’t look for a Mazda6—seek out an Atenza, which is its nameplate in the home market.

Over the years, Mazda has won many awards for both generations of this model, including two Best New Family Car awards in the prestigious annual Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) annual Car of the Year contest.

Four-cylinder powerAs so many competitors do, Mazda offers a choice of V-6 and inline four-cylinder engines for this model; overseas markets get a diesel option, too.

Our most recent long-term tester was a 2010 model equipped with the four-cylinder engine. According to Mazda, this is the variant most buyers prefer; some 87 percent opt for it. This seems to be the trend with other automakers in this segment, too.

There was a time when four-cylinder powerplants were very much considered to be the bottom-feeders in model lines like this, but not any more.