(Contributing Editor: Peter Stamatis)
Back in 2014, sister site “Drive…He Said” heaped restrained praise:
“There, we said it. In spite of the [meh] interior styling, [flimsy trim and spartan appointments], we cannot immediately think of another family sedan for $21,000 out the door that wants to shred the road so badly. Our Spoiled A$$#$ could live happily with the 2014 Mazda6 Sport.“ ChicagoNow “Drive…He Said” August, 2013.
A follow-up sampling of a mid-cycle refreshed 2017 Mazda6 Grand Touring impressed with subtle improvments surmised “…A turbocharger away from becoming a legitimate sporty executive sedan challenger.” ChicagoNow “Drive…He Said” April, 2017.
The maker of Zoom, Zoom, Zoom has really spoiled our A$$#$ a lot now. Roadblazing.com July, 2018.
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WHAT: 2018 Mazda6 Signature 2.5T flagship mid-size family sport sedan. Update of mid-cycle refresh of GJ1 3rd generation.
Standard Power: transverse 2.5L DOHC 16V DI variable nozzle turbocharged gas I-4 = 250 hp/ 310 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm+ 6-speed torque converter planetary automatic transaxle.
Note: Using 87 RON octane unleaded = net horsepower drops to 227.
WHAT (A) STYLING (DIFFERENCE): Update brings subtle tweaks what was already arguably the most sensual fastback profiled volume mid-size sedan = KODO +1;
Pentagonal grille goes from horizontal slats to dim mirror-finish hexagonal lattice; Chrome band extends under LED headlamps housings which now incorporate fog lights and bolder white DRLs;
Rear trunk lid chrome band bisects wrap around LED tail lamps; Entire bumper cover matches body color with a mini simulated diffuser at the bottom center; Dual chrome exhaust tips are now beveled and more flared;
WHY: The most driving focused of volume mid-size sedans needed forced induction to compete;
WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since early 2018
WHERE: Mazda new car dealers
WHERE MADE: Hofu, Yamaguchi, Japan
HOW STRONG: The variable nozzle turbo spools more progressively rather to dispatch lag and quell torque steer. A heady rush of torque arrives at over 50 mph remaining on tap well into triple digit territory. Tubular exhaust headers and a lower compression emits a purr, then lower pitch growl;
Despite a numerical deficit to 8-speed & 10-speed competition, the 6-speed slushbox torque converter locks-up blazingly. Steering wheel shift paddles are superfluous; Throttle Sport Mode and transmission Sport Mode keep 3rd-5th gears at a 3250 rpm sweet spot, allowing throttle blip rev-matching.
HOW LIMBER: Switching from Dunlop Sport 5000s to more pliant Falken Ziex tires, slows down an already abundantly quick electric assisted steering rack on high speed lane changes. The helm needs hardly any correction while cruising, while transmitting adhesion feel. Hydraulic bushings and variable piston dampers reduce wheel impact motions, exhibiting balanced road attitude and composure. The Mazda6 Signature 255 pound fattening is sensed in a more solid & serene cabin, yet the effects don’t impede the intimate relationship with the road.
“Track-Worthy”: G-vectoring = Cuts power, enhancing front wheel load and grip upon entering turns or corners, restoring the power to the throttle position while exiting the turn;
That less aggressively treaded rubber seems to test the scrubbing ability of the front vented, rear solid 4-wheel brake discs, though pedal action remains plenty linear.
HOW FAR: Expect 27 miles-per-gallon = 16% < fuel economy than the naturally aspirated Mazda6 Sport & Touring. BTW i-ELOOP bites the dust, replaced by start/stop in the NA 2.5L engines.
HOW BIG/ LITTLE: Thicker door panels reduce occupant shoulder room in what was already a snug mid-size sedan. That fastback silhouette still threatens heads of 6’+ footers bound for the rear seats.
HOW USEFUL: √ Trunk fits 2 full size and 2 roll-aboard suitcases; √ Retracting-shade style center-console dual cup-holder cover; √ 2 x USB ports √ 2 x 12V power ports; -1 Bose speaker housings take bite out of door pocket storage; -1 Tall load lift-over; -1 3 paper grocery bags short of what competition will hold
HOW SAFE: √ 8 airbags ; Driver assist technology: i-ActiveSense = √ Rear camera w/ park grid-lines; √ Blind Spot & Lane change warning; √ Rear Cross traffic & Lane Departure warning; √ Automatic HID high-beam headlamps; √ Adaptive Cruise Control; √ Forward collision warning & Vehicle collision avoidance full braking; -1 Lane Keep assist = “Nudge Only” ≠ “Hand’s Off the Wheel”; (Note: 2014–2017 Mazda6 = IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; 2018 Mazda6 not fully tested.)
HOW FRIENDLY: KAIZEN (refinement) +1 ; √ New fatigue reducing lower cushions designed to lock pelvis upright; √ Variable heated / cooled front & heated 2nd Row seats; √ Heated tilt & extending leather-wrapped steering wheel; √ Triple channel door seals and thicker glass have improved cabin muting; √ Color analog TFT triple gauge cluster; √ Polychromic 7.0″-inch LCD multi-function trip display offers limited info.
Cool Gizmo(s): √ HUD traffic sign indicator; √ Machined aluminum rotary dial Command infotainment controller; √ Front seat cooling by vacuum; √ A REAL large, numerically gradiated engine coolant gauge;
Details Done Right: √ Perforated Nappa leather / contrasting piping & cross stitched seating surfaces w/ metallic controls; √ Seat matching padded ultrasuede dash & door panels; √ Broad tight webbed pillar & headliner fabric; √ Aluminum and Sen wood veneers dash & door inserts; √ Mouse-fur lined glove box w/ metallic latch release; √ Re-worked climate control panel with brighter display, upscale switches & gradiated metal knobs; √ Stainless steel door speaker housing covers;
Nearly Non-Descript: -1 2nd Row heated seat controls inaccessible when center position occupied; -1 Front center armrest a bit too aft;
HOW “APP” -LICABLE: √ dashtop MazdaConnect 8″-inch LCD media display = 1″-inch > than variant in lesser Mazdas; Touch functionality de-activates while driving; -1 Menu push, scroll, toggle sequences can confuse.
Machined aluminum rotary dial Command infotainment controller flanked by dedicated primary menu switches and rotary audio volume knob.
Native GPS Navigation POI searches are limited and voice recognition needs work; Pandora, Aha & Stitcher sync separately to corresponding smart phone apps;
+1 Bose Centerpoint 360 watt audio w/ active noise cancellation = one of a handful of Dr. Amar’s systems with soundstage depth and presence;
Present and Accounted For = Android Auto / Apple Car Play: -1 Android Auto initialization stalled a few times; -1 frustrating Command controller menu toggle sequence.
HOW MUCH: $36,140 , 2018 Mazda6 Signature 2.5T, fully optioned
WHAT’S MISSING: Grippier tire option; Rear door and backlight sunshades.
ANY COMPETITION: Ford Fusion Titanium: +1 AWD, Sync3; Honda Accord Touring: +1 off the line grunt, 10-speed auto, LKA self-steering; Hyundai Sonata Limited 2.0T: +1 LKA self-steering; Subaru Legacy 3.6 Limited : +1 V-6, AWD; Toyota Camry XSE V-6: +1 V-6 power, 8-speed auto,
BOTTOM LINE: If at first the [Amati] Millenia didn’t succeed, then the Signature should.