What is Turn Two, you ask? A new feature here at The Garage, where another editor gives his take on a car previously reviewed here. It is our hope that you, the reader, enjoys and benefits from more than one point of view.
Our first look at the Mazda6 came last winter, when the car was completely redesigned for 2009. This new 6 was substantially larger that the car it replaced, as Mazda hoped parity in size with the class-leading Accord and Camry would translate into more sales. Long regarded as the “auto enthusiast’s” family sedan, fear ran rampant that a larger, heavier 6 meant no fun at the wheel. Thankfully, as we discovered, those fears were unfounded-Mazda’s “zoom-zoom” DNA is alive and well here.
The Mazda6 is a handsome, smart looking car. No, it didn’t garner any attention in my travels or double-takes from passersby, but my feeling is the 6 has a look that will age well in years to come. Our only regret from our first review was our white tester failed to show off its voluptuous curves. As you can see, our Sangria Red tester for Turn Two really flaunts its look. The benchmark Accord and Camry simply look staid and dowdy next to the Mazda6.
Inside, the 6 offers a quiet, comfortable cabin. It only takes a moment to acquaint yourself with the controls and go. The seats are comfortable and offer adequate support. One feature I particularly liked was the trunk release button, conveniently placed within easy reach on the dashboard. No fumbling around on the dirty floor below. Makes you wonder why no one else thought of this. The gauges were handsome, and the aluminum-colored accents lent a cool contemporary look, but the piano-black trim with wavy, silver lines that surrounds the center console and flanks the lowers dash was just plain weird. I’m sure the point was to convey a Japanese theme inside, but it just doesn’t translate well.
As before, our 6 was equipped with a 2.5L four cylinder mated to a 5-speed automatic. Rated at 170hp, it certainly gets the job done, and has enough squirt to get you out of trouble if needed, but for anyone seeking real fun in a 6, my advice is to go straight to the V-6. The quick steering offers decent feel, and the wheel is sized perfectly-thank you Mazda. The ride is family friendly, but just taut enough so the big 6 is fun to hustle through the corners. The Mazda6 retains its title of the “auto enthusiast’s” family car.
There is one feature that did take the fun out of driving, or being driven in the 6. Standard on our car was a Blind Spot Monitoring feature. An icon will light up in either the driver or passenger side view mirror if the car deems a car is too close on either side. Make a move or get too close, and the car will beep at you. Sounds safe and practical, right? At night, driving in the left lane on a two-lane highway at 75mph, the Blind Spot light came on every time I passed a car, even though we were always well within our lanes. My wife was so annoyed she had to look out my window. It wasn’t until I got home I realized you can disable the feature-which is good, but it sort of defeats the purpose.
Our test car was the i Touring Plus, a new trim level for 2010. Priced at a very reasonable $23,750USD, standard equipment includes a power driver’s seat, power moonroof, Bluetooth, power windows, locks, mirrors and cruise control, fog lights and 17″ alloys. No luxury car, but just enough features to keep you satisfied. Although the stereo offered a CD changer, Sirius satellite radio and an MP3 jack, sound quality was a bit disappointing once you turned up the volume.
Even with a few minor flaws, I would happily recommend the Mazda6 to anyone in search of a family car who wants to be reminded that a car can be practical, family friendly and enjoyable to drive at the same time. With a huge trunk and roomy backseat, the 6 impresses with its handling and steering, and engages you in a way the Accord simply cannot.