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2018 Mazda6 Signature Review: Mysteriously neglected

We've been saying it for years: the Mazda6 is one of the best midsize sedans on the market. And yet Mazda seems unable to do justice to the quality of this car. In 2018, Mazda managed to sell a mere 2,292 Mazda6 cars in Canada, compared with 14,588 Toyota Camrys, 13,827 Honda Accords and even 7,188 Ford Fusions.

The 6 is far behind the leaders and from a logical point of view, it doesn’t make sense. Especially now, and especially with this range-topping Signature version. Our tester benefited from a 2.5L turbo engine that brings output to 250 hp and makes driving even more enjoyable.

Styling that’s still relevant
Since the arrival of the 3rd-generation Mazda6 in 2012, the car has not aged a bit. We’re still under the charm of its contemporary and dynamic style. As is the fashion in this segment, the 6 edges pretty close to a full-size sedan with space for five passengers, and it competes with the Accord while coming in a more-desirable package.

Photo: Mazda

While many competitors offered V6s at the time this Mazda arrived on the scene in 2012, the new 6 offered only a 4-cylinder with 187 horses. Many consumers were underwhelmed by the offer and headed to rival products.

The arrival of the engine that got its baptism in the CX-9 helped things along: the 2.5L turbo delivers 250 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque (provided you drive with an octane rating of 91). But does this newfound power give the Mazda6 the edge it needs to take the midsize-sedan crown? Was it worth the wait?

Yes it does and yes it was worth it. This extra power and torque leads to a smoother ride, more-generous torque eliminating the rough side of the non-turbo 4-cylinder at low revs, and it delivers added class to the ride.

Photo: Mazda

More refinement, tech inside
The interior has not changed all that much since 2012, but the Signature version brings a lot of new items to the 6. For example, the front and rear door panels are trimmed with wood, as is the dashboard . This decor is complemented by ultrasuede panels in the doors and at the bottom portion of the dashboard. You also get a redesigned instrument cluster with a 7-inch LCD screen.

This upscale atmosphere brings the 6 to the level of premium Japanese competitors like Lexus and INFINITI.

There’s also a good dose of added technology including dual-zone air conditioning, heated and ventilated front seats, navigation system and a Bose sound system. The safety list also follows the trend with blind spot detection, forward collision warning with auto brake and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

One disappointment is the infotainment screen, slow to react and unusually complicated. A second pet peeve would be the poor quality of the 360-degree parking camera compared to the vivid image found in the Honda Accord, say.

Photo: Mazda

Beautiful mechanics
With the implantation of a more muscular powertrain, the Mazda 6 becomes a more dynamic creature. The 4-cylinder turbo has no reason to feel intimidated by any V6 because of the 310 lb-ft of torque that arrives early, so the feeling of power is good.

Some will likely lament the absence of a manual gearbox (which in our opinion doesn’t really belong in this type of car), others the fact that the automatic unit has only six speeds. One thing is certain, the gearbox/engine duo works well. Now, would that be even better with an 8-speed gearbox? Probably…

At home on any road
To a world currently over-populated by non-distinct sedans, the Mazda 6 brings a breath of fresh air.

Mazda calls it the philosophy of Jinba Ittai, a concept that defines the driver and the vehicle as one. Mazda applies this philosophy with the G-vectoring control that appeared in 2017. Without getting into the technical details, G-Vectoring optimizes tire performance by concentrating the load on the tire that has the most grip on the ground. As soon as the driver changes direction, the vector control changes the torque by transferring the load to the front wheels to give the 6 maximal grip.

That improved handling and extra power brings more positivity to the driving experience. In addition to being comfortable and quiet on the road, the Mazda6 is not afraid to attack a curve with confidence and will even take some pleasure in doing so.

Photo: Mazda

While the base price of the Mazda6 is $27,000, a Signature edition will set you back $38,800, roughly on a par with what a well-equipped Camry or Accord will cost you. The fuel economy is around 10L/100 km in the city and 7.5 on the road, driving in summer. On our wintertime road we came in around that, 10L/100 km.

Does this Mazda6 Turbo have what it takes to dethrone the other sedans in its class? Yes, without a doubt - but the answer is not so simple. If this turbo version had been marketed in 2012 with the new body, the storyline of this sedan might well have been different. With the Accord and Camry both having been recently renewed, the 6 is in tough as it fights to catch up.

But in terms of the automotive experience it delivers overall, the Mazda6 is absolutely sensational to drive and a gorgeous to look at.. We have always loved it and this love story continues. Keep the turbo engine, bring the interior to 2020 and add 4-wheel drive with an eight-speed gearbox and it will be perfect.

Photo: Mazda

What we liked

A pleasure for the eyes
High-end style inside and out
Optimum chassis and suspension adjustment
a lost list of standard equipment

What we liked less

It’s getting older, but aging gracefully
An eight-speed gearbox would be nice
LCD screen not very user friendly

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