Friday, January 10, 2014

Mazda6 Driving Experience - Gadgetry and Sleek Styling

2014 Mazda Mazda6 Driving Experience

This 2014 Mazda6 I Grand Touring as provided by STI - The Driving Experience company for review; the opinions stated below are my own and I received no financial compensation.
Oh wow look at this baby!  I had the pleasure of driving and sharing this sleek vehicle with Leslie of Leslie Loves Veggies for review.  What fun we had.  This is the Mazda 2014 Mazda6 I Grand Touring with SkyActiv treatment.  I have driven Mazda vehicles before including the Mazda3 SkyActiv which Leslie and I reviewed in 2013 but this vehicle by far was so techno-geeky gadget filled I was mesmerized every time I got behind the wheel. 

This version of the Mazda6 is the sleekest, sexiest, and most brilliant piece of machinery ever for the Mazda6 blood line.  This really is a beautiful car plain and simply put.  The description of its high tech features and how they interact with the driver are nothing short of a rabble of adjectives such as miraculous, brilliant, incredible, astonishing...I could go on and on.  However, don't let this sleek sexy exterior hypnotize you.  There is also practical function, economy, and vast safety features making this vehicle a confident highly revered 4 cylinder.  I really liked this vehicle after driving a good number of miles.  At first, there were some aspects about this car that dissuaded me from going wild about it.  I have preconceived notions about Mazda vehicles in general as a previous owner of a Mazda MPV minivan which mechanically drained my resources of energy and money constantly needing minor repairs over and over again.  Let me tell you the 2014 Mazda6 is a beast of a different animal so far refined from the MPV I owned of more than 20 years ago.

Mazda was founded in 1920 but did not take on the Mazda Motors name for a number of years.  Mazda vehicles started entering US ports in 1970.   In 1971 Mazda Motors of America was established with those Wacky Wankel powered vehicles.  After several name changes, presidents, and company transitions, Mazda is now the only car maker that sells production vehicles with a rotary engine which in theory the Wankel engine has not changed much since its birth with Mazda in 1961.  Today's Mazda vehicles are sporty, functional, and very fun to drive.  Sophistication, which I feel Mazda has always strived to achieve amongst other automobile marks always came oh so close but ultimately short on earning that title.  The econo-boxes of yesteryear are gone from the Mazda lineup.  But, watch out other Japanese brands, Mazda is out for blood and darn sure earns that sophistication title with this Mazda6.  With an amenities including such goodies as leather heated full power memory seats for driver and passenger, leather wrapped steering wheel, auto dim mirror, back up camera,  on 6 inch screen, radio, full navigation, blue tooth, full fold down rear seats, adaptive headlights, and SkyActive engine technology providing 30+ MPG city driving this vehicle is a knockout.  Recent enhancements to body styling incorporated into the 2014 edition of Mazda6 make this vehicle a pure sophisticated dream.  Oh and I did not list the high tech advanced driver enhancements yet.  This is where I was absolutely mesmerized.  Take a look at treasure trove list of gadgetry.
Radar enhanced Cruise Control with auto braking
Automatic wiper control
Advanced Lane Departure Warning System
Blind Spot Monitoring and rear cross traffic alert
Traction control, hill launch assist, forward obstruction warning system
Capacitor I-ELOOP Regen Engine braking System - What the heck is that?
Sport shift with paddles mounted on tilt/telescoping steering wheel

Holy Cow as Phil Rizzuto would exclaim! This techno-geeky wiz-bang eco-mileage sexy beast all dressed up ready to go for under $30 Grand.  Holy Green Backs Batman!
View from the trunk with the back seats down

Ok how does this car drive?  The 2014 Mazda6 gives a smooth comfortable ride with competent
handling, smooth shifting 6 speed automatic transmission, excellent braking, and brisk acceleration.  Sounds like just about any car you can test drive for about $20,000 dollars right.  Well, yes as my dear Father-in Law used to say all cars have a 4 wheel conveyance system, nocturnal illuminators, 4-40 ventilation, and oscillating rain deflection system.  The Mazda6 has that stuff but its what other vehicles in the same class as Mazda6 don't have that expertly enhance the driver experience in this vehicle and bring a level of control and confidence felt in very few vehicles.  By far the most enjoyable and wizard like features of this vehicle was contained in the $2100 GT Technology Package with Lane Departure Warning and Radar Enhanced Cruise Control systems.  The Lane Departure System has an observation turret forward facing from the rear view mirror pod that sights the road markings and alerts when the vehicle drifts near the markings on the road.  There is a display screen on the gauge pod that visually alerts the driver as well as an audible tone throughout the cabin.   Yes, Leslie and I had much fun purposely letting the car drift just so we could be scolded by the lane departure warning.  Fortunately, we did not get pulled over by the Police; Oh what fun that would have been explaining the "drifting test" to Mr. Police Officer.  The Radar Cruise Control was just absolutely fascinating.  Instead of using a radar detector in your car to detect and warn when you are being clocked for speed measurement this vehicle uses radar to detect the vehicle traffic around you on the road and maintain or slow down your speed to desired setting automatically - No Braking Needed!  Like a missile, just set it and forget it.  The Radar cruise control which can be sensitivity adjusted while driving which keeps the vehicle at the set speed and at the set distance behind forward traffic and automatically applies braking when moving obstacles enter the detection zone in front of the Mazda6.  I was amazed at how competent, precise and reactive this system was at controlling the vehicle.

Economy and luxury rarely go hand in hand when you talk about a car.  The Mazda6 brings real economy to the table with its 2.5 ltr. 4-cylinder 184 hp SKYACTIV Drive train.  We drove the Mazda6 almost entirely around town in city like driving conditions for about 300 miles and achieved a solid 31MPG fuel economy.  Burning regular octane fuel is added economic bonus.  Highway driving is estimated at 40 MPG for this vehicle which is phenomenal.   What a drive - what a vehicle.  The Mazda6 is really cool, has sleek styling, excellent fuel economy, and enough high tech gadgetry to keep a fighter pilot amused for a little while at least.  Hey the car has RADAR alright already?

So what did I not like about this vehicle.
  • Interior lighting was non-existent for important knobs and controls such as power window, door lock, and side view mirror buttons.  I fumbled in the dark in pouring rain trying to un-lock the passenger door until frustrated I reached for the door handle from inside the vehicle.  Then I learned how to change the settings so the key fob could un-lock all doors with one button.
  • Navigation seemed a little un-sophisticated compared to systems in lower cost vehicles I have tested.  It was adequate and functional but just lacked pizzas that the vehicles other electronic features bestowed upon the driver.
  • The Mazda6 has no engine temperature gauge on the instrument cluster.  There are indicator lights that turn blue when cold and go away when the engine is hot but I like a gauge; a full set of gauges.
  • The Mazda6 Grand Touring was not as quiet as I expected inside the cabin when driven around town.  I heard road noise and the faint rumble of tire noise but also buzzy engine noise.  I thought that Mazda could have done a better job insulating the cabin inhabitants from such extraneous sources. Sound measurements taken inside the Mazda6 and my 2000 Toyota Celica (at 270,000 miles it is the Beast) at about the same speed show the Mazda6 only slightly quieter than the beast.

In all, I can say the Mazda6 I Grand Touring was a very smart vehicle full of wizardry that really enhances driver comfort and ability.  Like the I-ELOOP Regen system that creates electrical energy from vehicle deceleration, stores the energy in a capacitor, then bursts the energy out to the vehicles electrical components reducing the need for the engine to produce that energy.  This potentially saves fuel usage while driving.  There are various ingenious technologies that have evolved over the years which will ultimately bring the automobile to self-driving status.  These features include cruise control, auto on headlights, auto wipers with moisture detection, anti-lock brakes, GPS navigation systems, and parking assist.  The Mazda6 takes a giant leap forward toward almost self drive-ability with radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure detection.  Vehicles in the future will drive without human intervention.  This vehicle is oh-so close to that engineering fantasy.

Thanks STI - The Driving Experience People for the opportunity to drive the 2014 Mazda6 I Grand Touring!
To learn more about Mazda vehicles click here
Contact with Mazda via facebook, twitter, and Pinterest.

Scott R. Mayorga A.A.S. BS MT(ASCP)H CLS

1 comment:

Josh O., Nashville, TN said...

The 19" wheels Mazda uses are stupid because 19" tires cost too much and they are not kept in stock at tire shops. Mazda should switch to 18" wheels. Also the Mazda 6 Touring should come standard with SiriusXM radio. And I didn't know the 6 doesn't have an engine temperature gauge, but if it doesn't that is dumb too. And of course everybody is saying the 6's radio is a nightmare with iPods.

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