Mazda 6 Competes with Honda Accord in the Family Sedan Class
Family Sedan Comparison
By Tony Quiroga
The best cars seem to arise out of desperation. After itsdivorce from Ford, Mazda lost access to Ford's platforms and parts bins. Mazda'sown engineers had to develop this sedan from scratch, but they have justdelivered a car that deserves the big promotion.
At 3294 pounds, the new 6 is lighter than the Accord by 79pounds, but a sense of lightness is not its primary characteristic. A firmsuspension, stiff structure, and weighty steering make the 6 come across as theheavier of the two: It feels more solid and composed, with less ride float andmore assertive chassis responses. In daily use, the Mazda involves its driverto a greater degree. While the Accord pulls a disappearing act, the 6 continuesto submit reports via the steering wheel, chassis, and transmission; it feelsmore focused, less remote, and more alert than the Accord, even in parkinglots.
It also loves a challenge, responding swiftly andpredictably to stern commands. Although skidpad grip and slalom times areidentical to the Accord's, the 6 achieves those numbers with more confidence.Grip is more consistent, slides start later, and tighter body control makes the6 feel more athletic on the canyon roads north of Los Angeles where we comparedthe two. The six-speed automatic responds via paddles behind the steering wheelor through the shifter itself. Even if you ignore the manual options, thetransmission will still downshift on its own if you brake hard for a corner.
In the zero-to-60 run, the 6 pulled ahead with a time of 7.0seconds. The six-speed auto snaps off shifts faster than the 6 manual we testedlast month would allow. Mazda's new 2.5-liter 184-hp four runs quietly most ofthe time, but does get slightly coarse as it nears the redline. The volumelevel at 70 mph was 69 decibels, 1dBA higher than the Accord. At idle, wenoticed a few unwanted vibes coming through the small-diameter steering wheel.
We got no bad vibes from the 6's interior. Our Grand Touringmodel was equipped with supportive almond-hued leather seats that look as ifthey were pulled out of a $50,000 car. But it's not just the seats that makethe 6's interior seem expensive. Tightly grained plastic cover the all-businessinstrument panel. Secondary controls click with a satisfying heft. The touchscreen that controls the radio is responsive, even if it is a reach. There's aniDrive-like control knob aft of the shifter that offers a much easier way tocontrol navigation and radio functions.
The 6 is slightly smaller inside than the relaxed-fitAccord, but we didn't hear any complaints from six-foot seven-inch senioreditor Jared Gall. Rear-seat room measures just short of the Accord, but atleast the 6 has a split-folding rear seat.
Able to venture further into the sports-sedan that doesn't feellike surrender. It surpasses the class norms of packaging, price, fuel economy,and refinement; but its driving dynamics, acceleration, and interior andexterior design ultimately set it apart from the herd. Accord Included.