Mazda’s all-out attack on excessive fuel consumption (known as SKYACTIV) via technologies and engineering efforts culminate in the 2014 Mazda6 sedan.
Stand-out styling inside and out, as well as the best real-life mileage I’d achieved in a comparable sedan all year boosted my opinion of the 2013 Mazda6 GS.
It might sound like some workout program or a line of men’s underarm spray, but SKYACTIV is actually a brand name conceived for a slew of features and efforts that push gas-engine fuel-efficiency to all new levels.
Mostly, these efforts are at work in the 2014 Mazda6’s powertrain. Direct injection works with an extremely high 13:1 compression ratio and specially shaped piston tops to harness the most energy possible from every molecule of fuel. A slick variable valve timing system, in conjunction with a supercomputer-designed exhaust manifold, help the engine breathe more easily.
There are, additionally, friction-reducing measures inside the engine and transmission used to keep all moving parts inside more lubed up than oil wrestlers at your local gentleman’s club.
Other efforts are applied to keep weight down in the 2014 Mazda6, too. Ultimately, the very core of SKYACTIV technology is a gasoline engine that works the same way gasoline engines always have, but a lot more efficiently.
All that on regular-grade gas.
She’s a looker, too
Mazda didn’t put all of the 2014 Mazda6’s eggs in its gas-mileage basket, either. The Mazda6’s new design language is alive and well in all the curves, sculpted-ness, and muscularity that defines its body. Dual exhaust, a front chin spoiler, and projector lights add a sophisticated, sporty flare to the sedan.
That sporty sophistication carries on inside, too thanks to black leather,
gloss trim, and an overall upscale atmosphere. There’s a lot of depth and contrast to keep the eyes busy. There’s plenty of at-hand space for your stuff in the 2014 Mazda6 GS, too.
My nicely equipped tester got navigation, a central command console, heated seats, automatic climate control, and more all alongside a 6-speed manual transmission. Delightfully, Mazda doesn’t make you take a base-level car if you want to shift your own gears.
All grown up
Fuel efficiency has effectively kicked the mischievously responsive sportiness that helped define the original Mazda6 from the spotlight. The sports-car steering, engine sound and tight suspension have all been loosened up, quieted down and softened overall.
If you’re after something spacious, comfortable and refined (with a touch of athletic flare), you probably won’t be disappointed here. However, if you fell in love with the dynamic friskiness of the original Mazda6, you might be.
Steering, particularly, is on the quick side -- though somewhat vague and light, at least until highway speeds and beyond when the system tightens up. This makes the new 2014 Mazda6 easier to park, but less rewarding to toss around a back road. While still an entertaining car to push, it no longer feels as extensively engineered to connect with driving enthusiasts.
The 2014 Mazda6 is bigger, too. You get more room, a big trunk, adult-friendly rear seats, and a sense of your own relaxing space.. However, again, the compact fun-factor delivered by the original Mazda6 is now a subject for the history books.
My favourite thing? The powertrain. Economy aside, the SKYACTIV mill is liquid smooth, often noiseless, and has plenty of low-end torque. More than one passenger was surprised by the power output.
The low-friction gearbox operates with a soft, quick action, and works best when you change gears quickly, even if the clutch is on the soft side. The brakes feel powerful, precise, and easy to modulate in the 2014 Mazda6 GS, too.
After 2,150 kilometres of driving in frigid mid-February temperatures on winter tires, I achieved a real-life, measured-by-hand overall mileage of 8.8L/100km. To compare, I achieved figures of 9.5L/100km in comparable versions of the 2013 Honda Accord and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu on recent test drives.
None of these testers was broken in, all were driven in the cold, and the Malibu was the only one not wearing winter tires. Translation? Owners can expect to achieve lower consumption figures in the 2014 Mazda6 than I recorded.
A few minor complaints: Mainly, the navigation and infotainment system can be fussy at times, and if someone texts you while you’re in reverse, you lose the backup camera in place of a SMS notification.
Cross-shopping the market? The new Accord is more engaging and responsive to drive, the Chevrolet Malibu is quieter, and the Nissan Altima with the up-level V6 is more of a hot rod. The 2014 Mazda6, ultimately, will appeal mainly on style, fuel mileage, powertrain refinement, and its great cabin.
Other Reviews Available For The 2014 Mazda 6
Auto journalist & Consumer Ratings
Editor's Review Highlights
2014 Mazda 6 Specifications
Similar to 2014 Mazda 6