It’s no secret that passenger car sales, including the mid-size segment, are falling, having dropped nearly 25 per cent from a decade ago. However, midsize vehicles still accounted for more than a third of fleet car registrations in 2017. While these vehicles may not enjoy the dominant position they held in fleets not so long ago, they still play an important role. It’s one Mazda acknowledges the importance of as the launch of the new Mazda6 sedan attests to.
Mazda Canada chose the picturesque town of Vernon, British Columbia to unveil its 2018 Mazda6 sedan. Home base for the launch was the luxurious Sparkling Hills Resort, a fitting back drop for the event as Mazda plans to position the 6 as a competitor to models from dedicated luxury brands.
“The intermediate sedan segment still has a key place in rental/commercial fleets and the well-contented and elegantly styled Mazda6 is a standout in its class. From the entry GS model up to the premium top grade Signature model, the Mazda6 offers the versatility to successfully fulfill our partners’ fleet needs,” said Marc Chiarella, Senior Specialist, Fleet & Sales Operations, Mazda Canada Inc.
The sedan has experienced a major refresh, beginning with the front fascia including grille and standard LED headlights and DRL’s looking more luxurious. The rear fascia and taillights are all new, and the mirrors and wheels see changes. In its desire to position the 6 differently, Mazda has changed everything on the inside apart from the steering wheel.
A new turbocharged engine is added to the lineup, while the existing engine now features cylinder deactivation. The standard engine continues to be the SkyActiv-G 2.5 litre inline four-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation and offering 187 horsepower and 186 foot/pounds of torque. The optional engine is a SkyActiv-G 2.5L inline-four-cylinder engine with a dynamic pressure turbo producing 227 hp with regular fuel (250hp with 93 octane fuel), and 310 ft/lbs of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode (higher trims also get paddle shifters). Manual transmission has been discontinued for the Canadian market. Fuel economy numbers are respectable with the turbo model offering 10.0/7.5 L/100 kilometres (city/highway), and the non-turbo model being 9.1/6.7 L/100km.
Mazda have spent a lot of time and effort reducing the noise in the Mazda6, with over 75 changes occurring. Wind noise was reduced by using a thicker windshield with laminated front door glass, low-profile wipers, re-profiling the B pillar on leading and trailing edge, window channels are tighter fitting, and door seals are re-profiled. Road noise has been reduced through the use of stiffer wheels, thicker floor and rear wheel well panels, new tires, updated front and new rear dynamic dampers, just to name a few. Interior acoustics have been improved with more liberal use of insulation and added seals.
The responsibility for pedestrian safety is increasingly falling on OEMs and more vehicles are coming equipped with technology to help drivers avoid collisions. Mazda6 will offer Pedestrian Detection on its North American models. Part of the Smart City Brake Support system, it can detect vehicles at 4 to 80 km/h and pedestrians at 10 to 80 km/h. Also added for 2018 is 360 View Monitor, which uses four cameras situation at the front, back, and sides to create a view around the entire vehicle. Mazda’s Radar Cruise Control adds the capability of turning on the system when at a stop.
Even before the redesign, the Mazda6 was no slouch when it came to safety. Some notable features include: blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning, hill launch assist, adaptive front lighting and high beam control, and traffic sign recognition. Trim and package changes occur for the 2018 model, with a top end Signature trim being added, and the base GX trim being dropped (GS trim now is the base trim). This is in line with Mazda moving the 6 up market to be more of a luxury vehicle, competing with offerings from luxury OEMs.
The signature trim offers the 360-degree view monitor, seven-inch LCD display, front and rear parking sensors, frameless rear mirror, nappa leather, black headliner, wood inserts in dash and door, suede trim on dash and door, and gunmetal finish front grille.
Mid-size sedans may not be in the ascension , but the segment continues to be a dog fight with auto makers competing fiercely for every incremental unit of sales. Mazda hopes its flagship sedan will be prove to be a competitive advantage in the rarified air of entry-level luxury vehicles. While never having been a runaway success, the Mazda6 has always achieved steady sales. With the 2018 Mazda6 sedan, Mazda is hoping that its dog in the fight, like all, will eventually have its day.