some really fine lines when it completely restyled the 6.
The metallic-white Grand Touring model I had recently wore a big, bold blacked-out grille carrying an enormous black Mazda emblem in the middle.
Though its main mission in life is to haul people to soccer fields and grocery stores and office buildings, its windshield was shoved back rakishly — like something hammered out for the Autobahn.
Unlike most front-wheel-drive cars, the 6 also had a long, broad hood and sensuously curved top that gave it the aggressive proportions of an upscale rear-wheel-drive sedan.
And while the car sported large, practical doors, the sides carried three finely etched character lines that gave the 6 some lean, defined muscle.
It kind of shouted: My dad can beat up your dad, and my mom is hotter than yours.
The 6 I had rode on good-looking 10-spoke alloy wheels shod with fairly serious 225/45-19-inch tires, further embellishing its sport-sedan veneer.
If you’ve grown weary of busy interiors with large, over-the-top center stacks, you would have appreciated the unusual black and off-white duds in mine.
The black dashboard was old-school flat on top, curving down to a sleek, high-mounted navigation screen, subtle center stack and large instrument panel.
That instrument panel, combined with the car’s graceful three-spoke Mazda steering wheel, says: “Let’s find a curvy two-lane country road.”
Before we get too carried away, though, the car also has a back seat that’s easily big enough to transport your moody 14-year-old and two of his large, sullen friends — plus all of their digital devices and giant clothes.
Mazda, however, worked pretty hard to keep the family-friendly 6 playful. Plopped down in the midst of welldesigned, highly functional interior pieces were black and off-white seats that looked to have been lifted from Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘58 Caddy.
I only wish Mazda had injected a bit more zest into the engine compartment.
One of Mazda’s weapons to deal with ever-increasing federal fuel-economy standards is its new “Skyactiv” fourcylinder engines. On paper, they look pretty darn formidable, employing direct fuel injection, tuned exhaust manifolds, good breathing and massive 13:1 compression.
BUT in reality, the motors tend to be soft and kind of gutless down low, delivering far better fuel economy than pep. STill, the 2.5-litre Skyactiv four in the 6, while hardly an enthusiast’s motor, is better than the 2-litre version in the Mazda3.
Smooth and refined, the 2.5 is as sleepy down low as the 2-litre version, so don’t expect to wow the boys and girls at the Dairy Queen with smoky burnouts.
Prod it hard, though, and the engine slowly awakens, pulling pretty well above 4,000 rpm. Its co-conspirator in these little bursts of speed is a solid six-speed automatic.
A hundred kilometres and hour takes nearly 8 seconds to arrive. Nonetheless, the 6 feels reasonably quick and gets 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 5.3 L/100 km on the highway with a manual transmission and an even better 7.6/5.1 with the automatic — pretty impressive numbers for a 1,400-kg-plus sedan.
And for many buyers in the midsize segment, fuel economy always trumps performance.
Still, one reason the 6 feels kind of special is its firm, almost German-like ride and decent handling.
While it may be a bit too sporting for some, the suspension on the 6 keeps body motions in control and is a willing accomplice if you get a sudden attack of Boy Racer.
(And just FYI: That excuse does not work with the police. “I got happy feet, officer.”)
Turn-in to corners is competent, though not especially crisp, and the 6 struggles a bit to find a line through curves.
But the car maintains its balance and grip admirably while being subjected to abuses most midsize sedans would avoid.
Likewise, the steering is quick and well-weighted for a front-wheel-drive grocery-getter, occasionally tempting you to do things that will draw sharp rebukes from your partner in the passenger seat.
Don’t worry: They’ll get over it after a few hundred dollars’ worth of gifts.
And with the stylish, spirited 6, you may be making those purchases regularly.
The restyled Mazda 6, 2014 Mazda6 GT is a ‘runway dazzler’ with 10-spoke alloy wheels and a hammered out windshield.
A three-spoke steering wheel helps keep the interior playful.