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  • 2018 Mazda6 Signature

    Posted on July 6th, 2018 ninarussin

    Flagship sedan is redesigned from the inside out

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Mazda6

    2018 Mazda6

    Mazda’s signature is the sporty character the automaker infuses into all-of its products, from the two-seat MX-5 Miata to the family friendly CX-9 crossover and all-new Mazda6 flagship sedan. Although Mazda is the only major Japanese car company in the US market without a luxury brand, the Mazda6 stands out as a world-class sport sedan that holds its own against considerably more expensive products, in terms of both design and engineering.

    The new Signature trim level includes Sen wood trim, Nappa leather seats, redesigned seat structure that is firmer and more comfortable, automatic dual-zone climate control, a full color heads-up display, reconfigurable thin-film-transistor touchscreen display in the gauge cluster, and ventilated front seats.

    Outside, all 2018 models get a redesigned grille, available 19-inch wheels and available “Soul Red” crystal exterior paint finish. It’s a luscious package.

    Base price for the Signature is $34,750 excluding destination. The upscale trim model comes fully loaded with safety and convenience features, including premium Bose sound system, power driver’s and front passenger seats, LED headlamps, tail lamps and daytime running lamps, full-speed adaptive radar cruise control, rearview camera, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, hill start assist, Bluetooth interface and more.

    Power comes from a new 2.5-liter turbo Skyactiv four-cylinder engine rated at 250-horsepower with 310 pound-feet of torque and six-speed automatic transmission. Final MSRP on the test car including the special exterior finish is $36,465.

    Test drive in Southern Arizona

    2018 Mada6

    2018 Mada6

    Over the past week I drove the new Mazda6 around Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as sections of the Gila River Indian community to the south. As with its predecessors, the midsize sedan delivers the power and performance driving enthusiasts crave together with the safety, convenience features and fuel economy they need for the daily commute.

    The new engine utilizes a proprietary dynamic pressure turbo system that combines small and large inlets for the exhaust gases: the former to help the blower spool up at lower RPMs and the larger main jet to operate at full throttle. The engine develops peak torque at 2000 rpm, far below its 6300 rpm redline.

    Because of its high-compression engine, Mazda recommends using premium unleaded gasoline for optimum performance. The car will run at regular, but the engine de-tunes slightly to prevent detonation: hence the reduction in horsepower from 250 to 227. The combination of turbocharging and compression enhances fuel economy. The average for my test drive was slightly above the EPA 26 mpg estimated average.

    The six-speed automatic transmission progresses smoothly through the gears for solid, linear acceleration with no shift shock under normal driving conditions.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and multi-link setup in the rear. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners.

    2018 Mazda6

    2018 Mazda6

    Electric power assist steering gives drivers good maneuverability at low speeds with a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway. On-center response is softer than for the MX-5 Miata, but still positive.

    Ventilated disc brakes up front and solid rotors in the rear stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.

    Because of the extreme heat in this part of the country in June, the lane keeping assist system was not always available. This is not a problem exclusive to Mazda: I have found it in other vehicles as well when the outside temperature climbs above 110. However other active safety features such as blind spot monitoring and the rearview camera with cross-traffic alert worked just fine.

    Drivers familiar with former generations of the Mazda6 will notice a quieter interior due to increased sound insulation, making it easier for occupants to converse on the highway. Despite the addition for more insulating material and a large glass moonroof, engineers contained the sedan’s curb weight to less than 3500 pounds for the automatic transmission model. Front-to-rear weight distribution is 59/41, which is quite respectable for a front-wheel drive chassis.

    Upscale interior

    Mazda6 Interior

    Mazda6 Interior

    Mazda has always produced exceptional exterior designs, thanks to its focus on what the automaker calls ‘Human Centric’ design. The concept is similar-to that which Volvo uses, not only making the human body the standard for ergonomics, but also giving the vehicle itself an animistic quality. With its well-defined shoulders and crouched stance, it’s not hard to imagine the sedan having some sort of spiritual kinship with a predatory cat.

    The biggest evolution in design between the former Mazda6 and the new 2018 model is on the inside, with more elegant materials and excellent fit and finish. Those who remember Mazda’s early heads-up displays that utilized a pop-up screen on the steering column will see a quantum difference in the new full-color display.

    Not only is the upholstery material elegant, but the seats themselves have a better structure, similar-to high-end furniture. I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for plenty of lower lumbar support and a high enough position for a clear forward view.

    Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. My only criticism is the lack of some simple control knobs for volume and tuning that would be easier to use and less distracting than the touchscreen controls.

    Standard safety

    The Mazda6 comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, smart brake support with collision warning, blind spot monitoring, rearview camera, whiplash resistant front seats, rearview camera, rear cross traffic alert, daytime running lamps and tire pressure monitoring. Lane keeping assist and lane departure warning are standard on all but the base model. The Mazda6 received a five-star safety rating from NHTSA.

    Mazda builds the Mazda6 at its Hofu, Japan assembly plant.

    Like: A value-packed premium sport sedan with excellent power and performance, compelling styling and solid build quality.

    Dislike: No separate volume and tuning knobs makes the audio system more difficult to tune during brief traffic light stops.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Mazda
    Model: Mazda6 Signature
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $34,750
    As tested: $36,435
    Horsepower: 250 HP @ 5000 rpm
    Torque: 310 lbs.-ft. @ 2000 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 23/31 mpg city/highway

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