2021 Mazda6 Kuro
The 2021 Mazda6 is an interesting car in an interesting category. Our test model is imported from Japan and has an MSRP of $37 950. Sales of the Mazda6 in this third generation have been disappointing. With the American automakers gone from the midsize sedan category, the 6 hasn’t been able to capture some of that momentum. Let’s find out why the Mazda6 isn’t selling as much as its rivals.
The Mazda6 has been on sale here in North America for almost 20 years. In the past, there even was a station wagon variant of the model. The point is, the 6 was a key vehicle in the Mazda lineup. Nowadays, the story is different. They sell mainly 2 models: the CX-5 and Mazda3. It feels like all the love went towards those models instead of the big sedan. The front part is directly in line with every other model of the brand: the long lights and the half-cut octagon with the Mazda badge in the middle are distinctive and classy on every model. It looks sporty, a main feature of the Hiroshima brand. The rear part is where the disappointment begins. It shares the same lines as the CX-9, but it looks bland and less appealing on this vehicle. The feeling is that two teams were designing this vehicle, and that’s probably the case since this generation first started in 2012, with a redesign coming 5 years later in 2017. It doesn’t look as original and falls short to impress.
Inside, you will find relics from 2012 and 2017 too. The digital gauge cluster is modern and very adequate for a vehicle at this price point. Different menus show meaningful information, such as a trip odometer and information about collision alerts. The infotainment system is an older version, which is very slow to respond and clumsy by modern standards. For example, loading the navigation map will take at least 15 seconds. That is an unacceptable amount of time for a map to show up, and we can’t understand why Mazda kept this older screen in 2021. And it still isn’t a touchscreen, making it even more frustrating to use. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are available, but they both are slow to navigate because the overall system is slow. When you compare this with other screens found in the competition, such as Kia or Honda, those companies are precisely way ahead in that aspect. The quality of all cameras, front and back, is abysmal. They are blurry and not precise at all. It looks like a YouTube video buffering on a bad internet connection.
The rest of the interior feels luxurious, an aspect Mazda has focused on in the past decade. The seats are wrapped in this beautiful red leather completed with red stitching and are very comfortable. Every driver, whatever their height is, will find a good driving position. The leather found on every panel, door, or dashboard is soft and well laid out. The steering wheel feels luxurious with the same soft black leather. There is enough space for the rear passengers to seat adults, and the ISOFIX latches are very easy to find and hook car seats. Trunk space is decent for a car this size, nothing out of the ordinary. On the interior part, Mazda has a good package, and this vehicle would be very comfortable on long road trips because, for city-driving, it can become a handful, but we’ll get to that in a second.
About the driving experience, since we are behind the wheel of a Mazda, you will feel the zoom-zoom experience with this big 2,5-liter turbo 4- cylinder engine, which produces 250 horsepower and even more impressive, 320 lb-ft of torque. Minivans don’t have an engine this powerful! Unfortunately, in this case, you need to hold the steering wheel with two hands as there is a lot of torque steer due to the absence of all-wheel drive. All that power goes straight to the two front wheels, and it becomes a challenge when the road is wet, and you’re sitting at a red light. In the city, if you live where the quality of the streets is, say questionable, you will appreciate the suspension. It absorbs the road well, and the ride quality is less harsh than a Camry or Sonata. The steering is okay, not too stiff nor too loose, right in line with the sporty feeling that every Mazda buyer appreciates. Our biggest concern was the brake feeling. We felt the need to push the brake pedal all the way back, which didn’t feel safe or sporty. Besides that, the Mazda6 is very fun to drive with this big engine, and it is very silent on the highway.
A quick note about the fuel consumption, we had an average of 7,4l/100km on the highway, which is excellent for a big engine in a big sedan. But in the city, it was around10-10,5l/100km, an adequate figure but nothing else. Overall, these are decent figures; obviously, a hybrid powertrain would help lower these numbers.
In the end, we have to give credit to Mazda for not pulling the plug yet on the midsize sedan market, compared to the American automakers. The Mazda6 is, as always, the most fun one can have driving a midsize sedan, but it is an ageing vehicle, and the wrinkles are starting to show. All-wheel-drive, for starters, would enhance the driving experience and, most importantly, the awful infotainment screen has to go. If they do this, they have a shot at being the best in that category.