I’ve always liked the Mazda brand. My first introduction to Mazda was in the late 1970s, when one of my college friends bought a new RX-7. The rotary powered RX-7 was introduced to take some of the shine off of the red-hot Datsun Z-Car, which was one of two cars, the other being the Toyota Corolla, to put then fledgling Japanese car brands on the American consumer’s retail map.
Over the years, the Mazda brand has had some hits and misses. Misses include hanging on to rotary engine technology found in the RX lineup too long, as the engines were high strung, inefficient, and prone to engine seal problems. They were fun to drive, but a pain to maintain. Hits include innovative safety technology like super strong and safe “Triple H” unit body construction that effectively distributed forces in car’s body in an accident, building super fun small cars like the Mazda3, and offering what is arguably the best lineup of entry to mid level Crossover Utility Vehicles, all offered at terrific base prices.
And since 2003, the Mazda6, replacement for the popular 626 sedan, has been the flagship sedan for the brand.
For 2018, the “6,” is now in its third generation, with a successful facelift that adds more power, luxury and refinement.
Power comes in the form of two SKYACTIV engines, a 250 horsepower, 2.5-liter turbo four; and a naturally aspirated, 187 horsepower 2.5-liter four. Transmission options are the standard six-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual on the Mazda6 Sport.
Luxury and refinement come in the form of newly available technologies and premium features, including Nappa leather,”UltraSuede NU” interior coverings, Japanese “Sen” woods, and improved urethane foam in seats that reduces fatigue and enhances comfort. LED headlights and taillights are now standard, and the super sensuous Soul Red Crystal paint (in my humble opinion the prettiest paint color in the entire auto industry) is an incredibly affordable $595 option. Additionally, you can now choose from new alloy 17 and 19-inch wheel designs.
New tech for 2018 includes ventilated front seats, 8-inch touchscreen MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system, configurable 7-inch gauge display, 360 degree around view monitor with front and rear parking sensors, and full color Active Driving Display that projects onto the windshield.
Members of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) recently assembled to test-drive the latest Mazda6, and without a doubt, it’s the best “6” ever.
Ride quality is super smooth, with the SKYACTIVE-DRIVE six-speed tranny hitting all the gears in buttery smooth fashion. Though our test drive loop was less than 20 miles, the handling prowess of the Mazda6, with a completely re-engineered suspension, lends to a better, more refined driving experience.
Mazda as a brand is super loyal to Japanese customs and traditions. Jinba Ittai is one of the mantras the brand follows, which means “The Horse and Rider as One.” Translated, when you drive the new Mazda6, or any modern Mazda for that matter, rest assured you are behind the wheel of a refined, premium product at a super reasonable price. Mazda6 prices start at $21,950.