Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);
Overall Rating
Mazda has designed a car with a head-turning design, first-rate road manners and a lot of technology. You’ll like this car if: you want to drive a mainstream mid-size sedan with a smooth engine, impressive technologies and lovely styling.
Looks Rating
What’s the measure of a standout design? It gets noticed. The shapes and curves and angles and big haunches are eye-catching.
Interior Rating
The instruments and controls are good, but some of the materials don’t measure up to the best in this class.
Ride Rating
Mazda’s engineers know how to tune a ride. The Mazda6 handles the tight corners and long sweepers well, yet on straight highway runs, the car is comfortable and quiet.
Safety Rating
You can get a Mazda6 with this long list of safety gear not available in total in more expensive premium sedans. The crash test scores are excellent, too.
Green Rating
Fuel economy is among the best in class and it uses regular, too.

The Mazda people tiptoe around the notion that they are taking the brand upmarket, yet from time to time they let slip their thinking.

In one instance, Mazda just delivered a tidy little comparison of safety technologies and, in one slide, the mid-size 2014 Mazda6 stood head-to-head against the usual suspects – Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata. Then, in the next slide, up popped a comparison of the Mazda6 GT loaded up with i-Activsense technologies versus a few luxury players – Acura TL, Acura TSX, Audi A4 and, most importantly, the BMW 3-Series.

Presumptuous? I'd say subtle. In a 25-slide overview of i-Activsense, just the one luxury comparison. But it was there.

Story continues below advertisement

Now a fully loaded, 184-horsepower Mazda6 GT lists for $34,195 and that includes the safety gear that Mazda subtly points out you cannot get from the competition. Not all of it, anyway, and that competition includes some of the most popular premium cars, including similar-sized sedans from the Bavarians, Audi and BMW. Clever.

You're head-scratching over this term "i-Activsense." Mazda loves these sorts of terms to describe a suite or a collection of technologies. SkyActiv is the umbrella term for fuel-savings stuff; i-Activsense covers eight safety technologies, none of which you can get in the TSX, three of which are available in the A4 and just five of which are offered in the 3-Series.

We're talking about gizmos that recognize and warn you about potential hazards and pre-crash gadgets designed to help you avert collisions or reduce their severity. They come with labels like Blind Spot Monitoring, Smart City Brake Support, Adaptive Cruise Control and High Beam Control. Altogether, what you have here is a package of electronic aids designed to keep you safe in the city, on the highway, around the parking lot, in heavy traffic and everywhere else.

It's almost enough to make you forget the car itself, which starts at $24,495. This should not happen. The 6 is one of the two best-looking mid-size cars you can get from a mainstream manufacturer, the other being the 2013 Ford Fusion. In the Mazda, the design is all curves and shapes and angles and it is a standout.

The 6 is a looker and you hear about it every time you exit the car. Strangers offer a lot of, "What's that?" and "That's a Mazda?" – which suggests two things: Mazda is still in need of getting its design message into the brains of the buying public and the 6 is a startling sharp design.

The car is also well-equipped, should be reliable if you believe the latest quality studies and will hold its resale value well, based on the latest residual value studies. That starting sticker price is higher than many rivals, but every Mazda6 comes with a lot of stuff: keyless entry and push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5.8-inch colour touch screen audio display, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights, and heated exterior mirrors that light and flash your turn signals.

The only engine for now is the four-cylinder gas engine (a diesel-powered Mazda6 is coming at the end of the year) and to underscore the car's sporting bona-fides, a six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, which you can get even in the most expensive Mazda6. Fuel economy? The numbers read 5.1 litres/100 km highway and 7.6 city with the six-speed automatic gearbox, 5.3 highway/8.1 city for the manual.

Story continues below advertisement

Of course, Mazda would like to sell only the most expensive GT versions, such as the one I tested with a very user-friendly manual gearbox. From leather upholstery to dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-view camera to 19-inch alloy wheels with low-profile 225/45R19 tires, HID xenon headlamps – the car is loaded for thousands less than, well, a basic 3-Series.

Okay, the TomTom navigation system screams "budget item" and it does not provide the detail of so many other and more expensive navi systems. And the cabin has some hard-ish materials that seem out of place in a car with such a daring exterior. And frankly, the four-banger under the hood will come off to many as a bit underpowered in a sedan with room inside for four adults, five in a pinch.

As a whole, though, Mazda has delivered on that "zoom-zoom" promise. The car holds a flat line in long, sweeping corners and the steering reacts quickly and precisely as if in a slalom, even one in a crowded parking lot. The manual gearbox is buttery and excellent. Most people – 95 per cent of the population – have given up on manual shifters, but there is a sliver of driving enthusiasts who crave do-it-yourself gear changing. They'll applaud the Mazda for what its engineers have accomplished.

This is a good sedan all around, marked by a thoroughly striking design. And, at least on the safety front, sold with more technologies than pricey luxury cars of the same size. Mazda types are reluctant to brag, but if you ask …

Tech specs

2014 Mazda6 GT

Story continues below advertisement

Type: Mid-size sedan

Price: $32,195; $1,645 freight and PDI

Engine: 2.5-litre, four-cylinder

Horsepower/torque: 184 hp/185 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Drive: Front-wheel

Story continues below advertisement

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 8.1 city/5.3 highway; regular gas

Alternatives: Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Chevrolet Malibu

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies