Reviewing the 2017 Mazda 6

Mazda has been steadily rolling out G-Vectoring Control or GVC throughout its entire line-up. In fact, their entire passenger car range from the cheeky Mazda2 to the sleek Mazda6 all have it now. The mission of GVC is to unite the different components of Skyactiv: Engine, Drive (transmission), and Body into one seamless package. Think of GVC as Mazda’s version of torque vectoring, only better. Instead of being reactionary which is typically the case, GVC is proactive, working the moment the driver moves the wheel. Of course, all this GVC talk questions whether it’s made every Mazda drive the same way now.

Well, it’s a yes and a no.

Having driven the GVC-equipped Mazda2 and Mazda3 already, getting into the saddle of the Mazda6 feels extremely comfortable. Sneakerheads can relate, but driving one Mazda after another is like owning three different shoes of the same brand. They may have different designs or trimmings, but the overall fit is the same. And boy, is it good.

One trait that differentiates the Mazda6 from its siblings is how it belittles its size. Compared to the “what you see is what you get” size vis-à-vis handling on the Mazda2 and Mazda3, the Mazda6 does better at hiding its girth. Compared to other executive sedans (or wagons) out there, visibility is quite good with just minimal blind spots. It doesn’t feel bloated or cumbersome to drive. The sight lines are already great in tight, urban confines, but they’re truly a godsend when tackling curves and corners. Having said that, the Mazda6 could have scored perfect in visibility if only they equipped it with blind spot indicators. An available feature on the Mazda3 and CX-5, it’s nowhere to be found on the Sports Wagon. Though adjusting the side mirrors to the outer flanks do help, a wayward motorcycle or two can still manage to sneak through the Mazda6’s rear three-quarter blind spot.

As the grand tourer of Mazda’s passenger car range, the Mazda6’s driving components are tweaked for that task. Unlike the Mazda2’s quick responses to steering inputs for instance, it takes more prodding to get the Mazda6 to dance. The steering is honest and precise, but it’s nowhere as responsive as the Mazda2 or even Mazda3. It’s all deliberate though since what it gives up in agility, it gains in comfort and stability. With the exception of audible tire noise, it’s well-balanced, with a firm yet pliant ride. New for 2017 is the aforementioned GVC system. In the Mazda6’s case, the GVC does well to cut back on steering corrections, but its operation isn’t as transparent here. At the limit, the cutting of engine power is actually noticeable. This could simply be that the Mazda6 is a smoother car, but more likely, it’s GVC going against the laws of physics; and physics always wins.

With all that handling prowess at its disposal, the engine does start to sound like a downer. The normally-aspirated 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G’s 187 horsepower, 250 Nm of torque may be alright for a typical passenger car, but on paper, the Mazda6 Sports Wagon could do with more power. In reality though, there’s no shortage of pull whatsoever. The engine note does sound a bit raspy, but whether it’s stop-and-go traffic or high-speed overtaking on the highway, it’s got game. The engine and transmission are so well-tuned that reaching for the paddles shifters or even the Drive Selector (Sport) mode are almost always unnecessary. Fuel economy remains at a respectable 6.85 km/L in the city (average speed 11 km/h) and 16.94 km/L (average speed 56 km/h) on the highway.

Aside from the poor headroom (poorer than even the Mazda3’s), the Mazda6 is roomy. It strikes a great balance between sportiness and comfort, enabling it to tackle long-distance drives just as well as the daily commutes to and from the office. Compared to its smaller siblings, it’s got the best seats with the best levels of support at all the right places. The rear passengers do feel shortchanged compared to those in front, but they won’t be complaining. Despite its shortened wheelbase, it’s the same in terms of shoulder, leg, and knee room. And as a wagon, the biggest attraction of the Mazda6 is its larger cargo hold. However, be forewarned that this is with the cargo net retracted. With it in place, the loading height is severely cut allowing just two full-sized luggage and two carry-ons to fit with almost no space to spare.

Though largely carried over unchanged from the 2015-2016 update, the 2017 model does offer revised gauges featuring a full-colored LCD display that replaces the previous one’s archaic-looking single-color multi-information display. Also new is the subtle wrap-around Mazda Speed body kit and net-type luggage separator.

Mazda is offering the only executive-segment wagon in the market through the Mazda6 Sports Wagon and frankly, that’s saying a lot. Often considered as the best all-rounder in the entire automotive landscape, wagons have all the benefits with none of the side effects. They handle well, don’t take up a lot of space, and yet remain flexible and practical.

With crossovers and SUVs dominating the top-of-mind choice now, the Mazda6 now happens to appeal almost purely towards emotions—a truly heart over mind choice. Though the Mazda6 has always appealed to those who want something a bit more driver-centric than the usual, it doesn’t compromise on the comfort expected of an executive car. Furthermore, G-Vectoring Control bakes a deeper sense of emotionality. While its implementation here is much rawer than on the Mazda2 or Mazda3, it still adds the right dose of change to keep the Mazda6 Sports Wagon on the positive side of the handling (carguide.ph)

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