For the past five years, it seems that companies that make midsize sedans are in a race to the top. Every year one brand seems to outpace another in the competition to build a reasonably priced car that looks and feels like a premium entry from BMW or Lexus. The latest escalation in this conflict takes the form of the 2014 Mazda 6 sedan. While the Mazda 6 has been around since 2004, the latest generation was off the radar for most buyers. With radical sporty styling and impressive quality, this Mazda may be poised to upset the status quo in the segment in the same way the Mazda 3 did with compacts 10 years ago.
Inside, the Mazda 6 has a Germanic look that is a common trend in midsize sedans. What’s special about this interior is that the materials are comparable in look and feel to a BMW 3 Series. Everything from the door handles to the dash pad, steering wheel and gear stick feels solid. and well crafted. Infotainment and navigation are controlled with a wheel behind the gear stick, just like BMW’s iDrive. In addition to looking expensive, the infotainment system is well-equipped, even on the base model. All models have bluetooth audio transmission and USB interface. Dual-zone climate control is offered on most models, which is a welcome feature. Overall, the Mazda 6 has the most beautiful interior of any midsize sedan on sale today.
On the road, the Mazda 6 suffers slightly less than the powerful 189 hp 4-cylinder engine. While the car can accelerate fast enough for most of everyday driving, it lacks an extra boost to match the car’s sporty styling. The transmission is excellent and shifts quickly and smoothly.
The car’s ride is firm but still very comfortable in the tradition of the best sports sedans. What comes as a disappointment with the Mazda 6 is the steering. It feels a lot more like something from one of its much heavier rivals like the Toyota Camry. While the car turns very well, it lacks steering feel and is unresponsive. That would be a disappointment for any car, but it’s worse with the Mazda 6 because our expectations are so high.
The bottom line: a beautiful interior and expressive style, all at a reasonable price. This is as close to the premium quality of a sports sedan as the midsize segment.