We first test drove the Mazda6 GT last year. We were excited to try it out but found it….well, not quite up to GT Spirit standards. It was a decent car. In fact, after a few days we found ourselves really beginning to enjoy driving the car. But it really wasn’t a great car. The first problem we had with the car was that it seemed to allow too much wind and road noise into the cockpit. The 6 never held itself out to be the equivalent of a Mercedes E-class, but the additional noise gave it a cheap feel that wasn’t worthy of the price tag it carried. It was also woefully underpowered. Mazda has never followed the crowd when it came to power. They’ve preferred to prioritize overall driving feel and handling. However, the 6 that we drove really needed a horsepower infusion. So when Mazda announced that the 2019 Mazda6 would offer a turbo engine, we thought we’d give it a second look.
Mazda delivered us a 6 Signature Edition, with the turbocharged 2.5L engine, in the stunning Soul Red. The color looks good enough to eat. Or at least lick. The body style, updated last year, is a pleasant if subtle improvement. The chrome accents on the front of the car now extend into the headlights and set off the design with some brightwork. The grille retains it’s attractive shape and the front fenders still swoop dramatically over the front wheels. The sheetmetal then curves subtlety over the rear wheels. Another chrome accent connects the tail lights. It’s a very attractive design and the deep rich red paint sets off the beautiful lines nicely.
Inside, they’ve utilized a rich pallet of materials to make the passengers comfortable. Soft brown leather, ultra suede, and Japanese Sen wood are used together to create a comfortable and visually relaxing environment for the driver and passengers. The Signature Edition, Mazda’s top-of-the-line version, comes complete with all the modern conveniences you’d expect: heated and ventilated seats, blind spot sensors, a better stereo system, rich leather – you name it. The car is much better insulated against noise, vibration, and harshness. It’s built like a vault, with nary a squeak or rattle, and limits road and wind noise also. There is plenty of leg room in both the front and rear seats for adult passengers. The trunk is enormous, with plenty of room for luggage or groceries.
The turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder engine is great and a welcome improvement. The powerfully torquey engine makes 227hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, which is quite a jump from 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque. It feels surprisingly like a V8 all throughout the rev range. You can easily spin the front wheels when taking off. While it doesn’t feel as zippy as a lot of other turbo four-cylinder engines, it feels immensely powerful. Like a much larger engine than what it is. When coming out of a corner fast, you’ll find the typical turbo lag down low but it’s minimal and the torque curve quickly overwhelms the deficit. You just have to plan to get on the throttle quicker when going through corners fast. Otherwise, in normal everyday driving conditions the engine is responsive, fast, and just oozes torque.
While the Mazda6 is one of the last sedans to be offered with a manual transmission in the U.S., choosing the Signature Edition and the turbo engine means you can only get a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The transmission is nicely geared for every day driving, and there’s a “Sport” button that quickens the shifts and holds lower gears longer to take advantage of the more responsive nature. The paddle shifters work pretty well, but we enjoyed letting the automatic transmission do it’s thing.
The suspension is firm but comfortable too. It’s not too firm and not too soft, but just about perfect for everyday driving. It’s refined but playful. It corners confidently, doing what you ask and expect of it. It absorbs rough road imperfections well providing a pleasant ride, and keeps road and wind noise to a minimum.
The wheels are stylish 19” aluminum alloy wheels shod with Falken Ziex all-season tires. The tires aren’t the most sporting tires around but a lot of options exist in their size. The 19” wheels provide enough room for some quality anti-lock disk brakes and they do a phenomenal job of slowing the car down fast with great feel and control.
The Mazda 6 Signature Edition is a welcome improvement to the line-up. It’s more refined, more powerful, and it’s a great all-around car for the driver that likes both sport and refinement.