2011 Mazda6 GT-V6 Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Clean lines that should appeal to most peoples' tastes. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Fully featured, the GT-V6 gets very close to a premium-level experience. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

A sporty performance-oriented cockpit. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Seats are comfortable with better than class average lateral support. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Rear seat passengers should be comfortable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Published on April 30, 2011

Mazda faced some criticism from zoom-zoom zealots when it created a North American-specific 6 that was a lot larger and arguably less agile than its predecessor. The reality remains, however, that mid-size buyers on this continent, raised on a dollar per pound mindset in which size equates value when it comes to cars, would rather have a near full-size sedan if priced the same. Sales, which went up dramatically, proved Mazda correct.

Now with fuel economy a hot button issue since the price of gas in Canada is up over $1.40 per litre in some areas (and over $4 a gallon in some parts of the U.S.), you'd think that near full-size dimensions wouldn't be so appealing, but trends are showing that Americans, at least, haven't changed their buying habits. This said, full-size SUV's had already been left in the dust during the last big fuel crisis in 2008, and large families (whether that be large in numbers or large in stature) still need a way to get around, so therefore large mid-size sedans remain as popular as ever.

And to Mazda's credit, a 6 with a four-cylinder is pretty efficient at an estimated 9.8 L/100km in the city and 6.6 on the highway. The 6-speed auto is even better at 9.4 and 6.5 respectively. Granted these numbers are optimistic thanks to Canada's outdated rating system, they fall in line with others that offer four-cylinder powertrains in this class. My tester this week was a top-line Mazda6 GT-V6, mind you, which while nowhere near as efficient at an estimated 11.9 / 7.9 city / highway rating, was a lot more fun to drive.

The 3.7-litre V6 pushes more than a 100 extra horsepower down to the front wheels for a total of 272, whereas torque is up more than a 100 lb-ft as well at 269. To put that in perspective, it's equivalent to popping a Mazda2 powertrain into the trunk to power the rear wheels for extra measure. A dab at the throttle now induces decisive action off the line, eagerness the 2.5-litre four simply can't muster no matter how devoted to the cause. If the extra oomph isn't enough to impress the V6-powered Mazda6 gets an added forward gear, too. Shifts are quick and precise, and there's a manual mode via the shifter if you want to row through the gears yourself.

Unless paddle shifters are provided I rarely use manual mode, so other than for testing purposes and slotting it into Drive or Park I never touched the gearshift. Besides, the Mazda6 isn't the kind of car that I would tend to drive that way. Certainly it holds its own in the corners thanks to a well-sorted suspension with double-wishbones up front, a multi-link setup in back, stabilizer bars at both ends, and an upgrade to 18-inch alloy rims on 235/45R18 all-season tires all-round, but with a tendency to understeer if really pushed and its aforementioned large mid-size proportions it's not exactly a sport sedan.

It's great on the highway though, and around town. Maneuverability is first-rate with a 10.8-metre (35.4-foot) turning circle and its interior accommodations are commodious and comfortable front and back.

Adding to the comfort, the GT comes standard with heated leather seats, electroluminescent gauges, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and LED taillights, while for 2011 Mazda added new xenon (HID) headlamps, new speed-sensing door locks, and the ability to open the power windows and glass sunroof from the remote key fob. The GT in V6 trim adds new manual foldable mirrors with integrated turn signals, driver's seat memory, a rearview camera, a driver's-side auto-dimming mirror, and chrome dual exhaust tips to a list that already includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a powered tilt and slide glass sunroof, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, a new steering wheel design with illuminated spoke-mounted switches, Bluetooth with Audio profile, and a 6-speaker 6-CD/MP3 upgraded audio system that, I must say, sounds pretty decent. All the other normal luxury features are part of the package too, as is a long list of safety equipment that includes all-important ABS as well as stability control.

The GT-V6 has a price of $37,440, plus a $1,695 destination charge, which is a far cry from the base GS-14's $23,995 window sticker. A popular alternative is opting for a GT-14 at $29,395, which includes much of the GT-V6 features with environmental and fuel economy benefits.

So what do you think? Does the Mazda6 work for you? It certainly looks good. One of the most attractive in the mid-size class, in my opinion. It's accommodating for sure, with a big cabin and very large 469-litre (16.5-cubic foot) trunk with capability to stow longer items via 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. Interior quality is better than some in this segment, and it's not short on features either. A 3-year, 80,000 km basic warranty is better than most too, with 5 years or 100,000 km for the powertrain about average. And while I'm not a protectionist, I like the fact that it's made here in North America, supporting our friends to the south who consume so much of our GNP.

The Mazda6 may not be the sport sedan its smaller, lighter predecessor was, especially when outfitted in Mazdaspeed6 trim, but it remains one of the sportiest offerings in the mid-size class today, and well worth your attention.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Mazda, 2011, Mazda6, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Midsize,

Organizations: Mazda

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