The mid-size sedan has become synonymous with bland, boring and basic. With the exception of the minivan, the mid-size sedan is the household's go-to car, the vehicle only slightly more fashionable than the big yellow school bus when schlepping the kids to school. Enter the 2012 Mazda6.
With sporty styling, interior affluence and Zoom-Zoom underpinnings, it's a sedan ready to redefine the segment one dynamic head-turning moment at a time.
Refreshed for the 2011 model year, the 2012 Mazda6 carries over the identity and character which shaped the vehicle, leading the way toward offering mid-size sedan shoppers with a desired alternative to the cookie-cutter norm. For starters, the Mazda6's sleek body style is reminiscent of the aggressiveness of its smaller sibling, the MAZDASPEED3, than it is of competing mid-size vanilla-infused vehicles. No other vehicle in its class can match the bold strokes that sculpt from the front fascia, through the headlamp, over the top of the front-wheel opening and into the side surfaces just before reaching the front doors. This visual line accents the vehicle's athletic stance and muscular wheel arches while at the same time virtually trims the length of the front overhang.
Another design cue is a separate rear-facing line than contours from the B-pillar, smoothly into the C-pillar and seemingly elegantly disappears into the slender trunk lid. The seamless line creates a lean and slender appeal, accentuating the equally athletic rear wheel arches. The large areas of the doors exhibit a blank-space beauty in both their polished surfaces and sleek shapes. Fine attention to detail is evident in the placement of the recognizable Mazda slant of the headlights and taillights, completing the vehicle's anything-but-frumpy, svelte look. The Mazda6 intends to introduce itself not as a sedan, but a sports sedan.
An Interior That Inspires
The Mazda6's interior instills a striking first impression with its mostly black canvas accentuated by bold statements of elegant wood, satin silver and polished chrome. Multiple design elements flow as one, from the T-shaped instrument panel to the similarly shaped triple-spoke steering wheel, no interior line was created by accident. All the eye-catching, soft-touch materials and supposed contrasting colors effortlessly blend as one to create a cabin as visually inviting as the comfortably sculpted seats and intuitive instrument controls.
Blacked-out instrument faces with bright metallic markings, needles and trim pieces give the Mazda6 interior an exquisitely detailed look, creating a desired contrast between sporty masculinity and demure beauty. Crisp edges abut gently curved soft surfaces while unique patterns and textures further enrich the vehicle's fresh, original interior. Use of exquisite black trim surfaces provide a rich, sporty feel that is unprecedented in the mid-size sedan segment. High-mounted audio system and climate controls further enhance functionality.
The expansive feeling of the interior design adds an even roomier feel to the already spacious 101.9 cubic feet of passenger volume. Headroom, sans moonroof, is a cavernous 39.4 inches while the addition of the moonroof lowers the headroom to 38.1 inches of leeway. For rear passengers, 37.3 inches of cranial buffering can be enjoyed.
Seats are highly refined with soft-look volumes combined with supportive seat cushions and highly effective side bolsters. Attractively curved surfaces create a seamless flow between the center console and the instrument panel. Entry-level Mazda6 interior surfaces feature plated metal accents matched with black or beige cloth upholstery. Top-of-the-line models features leather seating, also available in black or beige tones.
Mid-Sized Breadth, Large-Scale Brawn
Mazda's reputation for providing world-class powertrains - both engines and transmissions - is deeply rooted. Quick throttle response, strong acceleration and outstanding flexibility are core to Mazda's spirit of engineering. Guaranteeing that Mazad6 customers enjoy the class-leading performance they've come to expect, two engine choices are offered on the mid-size sedan: a sprightly 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a robust 3.7-liter V-6.
The MZR 2.5-liter four-cylinder is the standard engine on all Mazda6 i models. Delivering 170 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, its peak torque of 167 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm tops nearly all competitors' four-cylinder engines. This engine is mated to a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission on the i Sport models with an available electronically-controlled five-speed Sport automatic transmission, which is standard on the rest of the i lineup - Touring, Touring Plus and Grand Touring. The manual transmission garners an EPA-rated 21 city/30 highway. When paired with the automatic, the EPA-tested fuel economy numbers are 22 city/31 highway.
Advanced features include chain-driven dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, counter-rotating balance shafts located in the oil pan and aluminum block and head construction to decrease weight. The crankshaft is forged steel for utmost durability. Forged connecting rods also minimize reciprocating weight.
Variable intake valve timing yields a smooth idle, low emissions and excellent high-rpm power. An injection-molded, nylon-reinforced-plastic intake manifold provides smooth internal passages with minimal weight. Fuel is delivered to the intake ports by an electronically controlled sequential injection system. Ignition coils are modular units positioned directly above the spark plugs. Shimless bucket tappets require no maintenance. Light-weight pistons are coated with a special anti-friction compound and fitted with low-tension rings for improved fuel efficiency.
To minimize noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), the damper at the forward end of the crankshaft is equipped with two tuned masses. At the output end, a flexible flywheel also diminishes NVH. The deep-skirt block is engineered for extra stiffness and main-bearing caps are integral with a lower-block ladder-type reinforcement.
The 60-degree 3.7-liter V-6, designated MZI, offers a much noticeable boost over the 2.5-liter I4 and is the standard engine for Mazda6 s models. With a stirring 272 horsepower produced at 6,250 rpm and 269 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm, the MZI V-6 is one of the most powerful in its class and offers best-in-class torque. As power is nothing without control, Mazda engineering tests show that the MZI V-6 also is quieter than its competitors at full throttle. Available only with the six-speed Sport automatic transmission, the EPA-rated fuel economy is 18 city/27 highway.
The list of advanced features includes light and stiff aluminum construction for the block and cylinder heads, a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened journals and variable intake-valve timing. Dual-overhead camshafts are chain-driven and equipped with maintenance-free direct-acting bucket tappets.
Cast-in iron cylinder liners provide a dependable bore surface. The intake manifold is injection-molded nylon-reinforced plastic to save weight. Two close-coupled catalytic converters minimize the time required following a cold start for the emission controls to reach full effectiveness. A dual exhaust system provides low restriction for excellent high-rpm power.
To achieve best-in-class performance and quietness, the crankshaft of the 3.7-liter V-6 has a full complement of counter-weights and a dual-mass damper. The aluminum cylinder-head covers are rubber isolated to minimize the amount of radiated valvetrain noise.
One Zoom-Zoom feature inherited from the renowned Mazda RX-8 sports car and instilled into every Mazda6 is the Active Adaptive Shift (AAS) control. AAS senses winding road conditions and provides a gear ratio (usually third) with optimum acceleration response exiting a corner. Decelerating into a bend, AAS quickens down-shift speed to provide maximum engine braking. During passing maneuvers following a merge into traffic, AAS holds lower gears longer to maximize acceleration.
Prioritizing Precision, Improving Performance
The ability to offer a broad spectrum of customers a vehicle that is utterly dependable, perfectly designed and manufactured as well as pleasing to drive is every car company's dream. Achieving such lofty goals requires a deep commitment and the willingness to sweat the small stuff. Elevating the Mazda6's quality so that it becomes the mid-size segment's shining star was a monumental undertaking, with no diminutive detail being overlooked.
To ensure the highest level of quality, reliability and durability, a fleet of Mazda6 vehicles were driven for more than one million miles in early 2008, prior to the launch of the 2009 model. At AutoAlliance International (AAI) in Flat Rock, Mich., where the Mazda6 is currently being manufactured, a sample of cars are driven on a track to test the steering for accuracy, drift and pull with a torque meter. In addition, every production Mazda6 is run on a chassis dynamometer to check shift quality, electrical performance and other dynamic functions.
When launched as an all-new model in 2009, major revisions were made to the front suspension and damper valve in the power steering gear to help improve straight-ahead tracking over a wide variety of road surfaces. In order to verify that wind and road noise were lower than a specific limit, an Aachen Head audio recorder was belted into the vehicles for inspections. While past inspection procedures primarily involved visual checks, hands-on and dynamic checks are conducted more today than ever before.
Even down to the paint processes was production adjusted. Painting each Mazda6 is a 34-step process that begins with electrically-charged primers and continues with sealers, base and color coats and a trip through a 340-degree bake oven.
To minimize wind noise while at the same time improving fuel economy, ambitious aerodynamic targets were set early in the Mazda6's development process. A large panel under the powertrain, plus air deflectors near the front tires and two covers in the rear floor area, smooth under-car air flow. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis helped eliminate noise-causing turbulence, which was noticeable around the outside rearview mirror mounting areas.
Wind-tunnel tests also reported a lower coefficient of drag at 0.27, a 10-percent improvement over the first-generation Mazda6. Very low lift at high speeds and in cross winds improves both directional stability of the vehicle as well as evokes driver confidence in handling ability.
Dressed to Impress
Available as two models - i and s - the Mazda6 sports sedan offers a varying array of trim levels, options and equipment packages to match the needs and wants of discerning mid-size sedan buyers. By far, the Mazda6 is the most comprehensive nameplate in the brand's lineup.
Standard amenities on the entry-level Mazda6 i Sport equipped with the MZR 2.5-liter I4 engine include 16-inch wheels, automatic headlight shutoff, air conditioning with pollen filter, power door locks and windows with a driver's side one-touch up/down feature, height-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, a center IP display, AM/FM/CD/MP3-compatible six-speaker audio system and remote keyless entry with retractable key.
The Mazda6 i Touring adds 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, P215/55R17-sized all-season tires, fog lights, an eight-way power driver's seat, Bluetooth® hand-free audio and phone connectivity, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, a trip computer, premium interior trim touches as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Building on the i Touring, the Mazda6 i Touring Plus adds folding outside mirrors with turn signal lamps, ground illumination (when opening doors), a power moonroof, electroluminescent interior gauges, an anti-theft security system and a Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system.
The upper level-trimmed Mazda6 i Grand Touring sees even more luxurious niceties with the addition of a 265-watt Bose® Centerpoint® 10-speaker Surround Sound System with AudioPilot®, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats with heated front seats, a Welcome lighting system and a multi-information display (MID) fitted with a built-in rearview camera.
Equipped with the bigger MZI 3.7-liter V-6 engine, Mazda6 s Touring Plus models include a six-speed Sport automatic transmission and chrome dual exhaust finishers over the i Touring Plus model. The Mazda6 s Grand Touring adds 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, meatier P235/45R18 all-season tires as well as chrome dual exhaust finishers over the i Grand Touring model.
For i and s Grand Touring models only, an available Technology Package adds the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry System, push-button start, memory driver's seat, front passenger power seat, auto on/off xenon headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink®, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated exterior mirrors, driver's side auto-dimming outside mirror, LED combination taillights and Sirius Satellite radio with a complimentary four-month subscription.
A Navigation System, which must be paired with the Technology Package, also is available and offers a DVD-based system with voice commands, a seven-inch LCD touch screen, real-time traffic display and a rearview camera that is viewed within the larger navigation screen and not via the smaller MID.
Piece of Mind Safety, Security
All Mazda6 models are afforded the highest standards in safety, including six airbags (advanced dual front, front-seat mounted and full-length side curtain), whiplash-reducing front headrests, anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) with Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with a Traction Control System (TCS), tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), "Triple H" body construction, front and rear side-impact door beams, a foldaway brake pedal assembly, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters, a trunk entrapment release system as well as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH).
Also, all Mazda vehicles come with the Mazda Certified Roadside Assistance Program. Using either the toll-free number or free Mazda Assist app for iOS- and Android-operated mobile devices, owners and their family members can contact roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, the New Vehicle Limited Warranty includes a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty, which covers every part of the vehicle except those subject to normal wear, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.