Remember when Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995 to score another three-peat with the Chicago Bulls? Yes, that was a solid comeback story, one I'd probably still tell my kids as they grow up.
Now, Mazda Philippines has a comeback story of its own: the return of the Mazda6 Sedan. Although it isn't as dramatic as what MJ did back then, I still couldn’t help but get elated primarily because it’s one of the best-looking midsize sedans in the market today. I may have the tendency to love wagons over sedans, but the Mazda6 has the looks that transcend over personal preferences – mine included. Even better, I’m pretty sure Filipino car buyers would be delighted to know that the Mazda6 Sedan is the only executive car in the country to have a diesel option.
But then again, as all Mazdas are, the 6 Sedan is the priciest nameplate your money could buy – well, with the exception of the GAC GA8, but that’s another story. Digression aside, can the diesel Mazda6 Sedan stand by its almost premium price point? Here’s our full review.
Well, there’s no sense in denying it – I love how the Mazda6 looks, but let’s discuss the things that make it stand out.
While most midsize executive cars go by either a classy chrome-laden styling or sporty approach, the Mazda6 sedan is right at the middle. The sultry curves of Mazda’s Kodo designplus the squinty LED lights make for a sporty look, while the touch of chromes at some parts add a touch of class. I specifically adore the new chainmail-esque grille that’s kind of lifted off of the Mazda Vision Coupe from two years back.
Without knowing that this is supposed to be in the executive class, you wouldn’t think that this car is actually in the shortlist of corporate honchos. Simply put, the Mazda6 may be a corporate father’s vehicle choice but it’s something that his teenager would probably borrow and be actually proud of. Not sure if that’s really a win but it is for me, design-wise.
The perfect blend of sporty and classy continues inside the Mazda6, albeit, it’s aesthetically biased to the latter. Brown, or Deep Chestnut, and soft Nappa leather populates most parts of the cabin, while a suede material, called Ultrasuede, wraps other parts, mainly the headliner. There’s also a Senwood accent that flanks the dashboard, which adds to the cabin’s premium-ness. There are still a few soft-touch plastics found but overall, Mazda stands to the claim of a plush cabin design execution – except for the scratch-prone piano black plastics. Those things should go.
Space isn’t really an issue since the Mazda6 is a midsize sedan. Front occupants’ knees would likely hit cushioned parts, if they actually do, while two rear occupants should get a healthy leg-, elbow-, and head-room. Three would be an issue since the transmission tunnel is a bit tall. Trunk space volume isn’t listed on Mazda’s website but on our test, it’s plenty enough to fit a child stroller and a cart-full of groceries. The rear backrests fold flat as well and it has a wide aperture to allow long cargo items with more girth.
As for ride quality, the Mazda6 Sedan employs a sporty McPherson strut/multi-link suspension setup plus a set of 19-inch rims, so it isn’t as soft as other midsize sedans but on long curves and winding roads, it’s a joy to be in. The top-notch NVH insulation also makes for a cozy and cradling ride.
With its price tag, Mazda happily obliged to shower the ‘6’ with several tech features. In fact, it’s quite a handful, so let me just list them down here: keyless entry, push-start ignition, adaptive LED headlights, power-adjustable front seats with cooling, automatic climate control, auto-dimming frameless rearview mirror, four cameras for a 360-degree view, remote trunk opener, USB charging ports (front and back), cruise control, electronic parking brake with brake hold, lane keep assist, head up active display, auto up/down windows on all fours, and the 8-inch floating infotainment system with offline navigation – yes, the same infotainment in the CX-5 that displays upcoming streets. Pretty cool.
All of the features listed above work like a charm, except for the display of the 360-degree view cameras. It’s kind of low-res and could have been better if the display was bigger. Also, the EQ adjustments for the 11 Bose speakers are limited to just the bass and treble – a missed opportunity in my opinion.
Lastly, still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but you can have your Mazda Connect updated through the dealer, albeit, for an added premium. Plus, a little quirk – charging a gadget at the back would mean one-less passenger since the USB port is situated in the foldable center armrest. And oh, that i-Stop feature that I always choose to switch off.
Of course, the Mazda6 Sedan is equipped with a bulk load of safety features. Apart, from the 360-degree-view cameras, front and rear parking sensors, and lane keep assist, it also has blindspot monitors that aren't annoying, ISOFIX child seat tethers, dynamic stability control, ABS with EBD, seatbelt reminder for the front occupants, and six airbags.
Driving & Handling
The very thing that makes the Mazda6 Sedan a stand-out among midsize sedans is its diesel engine – a 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D that produces 190 metric horses and 450 Nm of torque, with a 6-speed automatic transmission that sends all those power to the front axle.
Now, you wouldn’t think that a diesel sedan could fit in the list of executive sedans, would you? But Mazda did it and did it so well, the engine didn’t sound and run like a diesel, at least in terms of refinement.
Performance-wise, the refinement was still there but the characteristics of a diesel car became apparent. The towering torque figure was felt even with the slightest press on the accelerator, which made me utilize the soft headrest more. Changes in speed weren’t an issue at all, as the transmission shifted at will, but there’s a tad bit of delay when downshifting manually. The four disc brakes bit well even during emergency stops.
Another thing to rave about the Mazda6 is its relatively on-point handling as a front-wheel-drive vehicle. There were only a few moments of understeer but those were at speeds – thanks largely to its G-Vectoring control. In the city, even when seated low in the cabin and with the car’s heavy steering feel, the Mazda6 wasn't hard to maneuver in tight spaces.
With the mentioned on-road performance, the Mazda6 Sedan returned stellar fuel efficiency numbers, as most diesel cars do. City crawls read back 8.8 km/L, while faster paces on a Sunday drive (60 km/h average) registered a whopping 17.5 km/L. An hour on a flat highway with the cruise control nailed at 90 km/h clocked in 23.7 km/L. If these numbers from a midsize sedan don’t impress you, I don’t know what else will.
The Mazda6 Sedan isn’t without flaws, as any car should. But by combining striking exterior design, plush cabin experience, commendable on-road performance, and notable fuel economy, it wouldn’t be hard to turn a blind eye on those things that I tend to nitpick in this review – that’s if P2,250,000 wouldn’t be a problem for you.
At any rate, the Mazda6 is still in the executive class but it has grown to become a car that you would prefer to drive rather than be driven in. Yes, the price is steep, but you’re assured that you get what you’re paying for in this car in terms of build quality and features.
But just in case this price tag looks too pricey, the gasoline variantcomes in at P1,930,000 with only fewer toys removed for cost’s sake. Performance and fuel efficiency would be a different story, though.