Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: 2015 Mazda6 Skyactiv Sedan

Photos by Ulysses Ang
It’s been a long while since you last saw the Mazda6. At two years, perhaps that’s too long a time. So given the chance to get reacquainted with her once more, you don’t say no. You free up your schedule and make sure you spend time with her. After all, how can you resist? Yes, her siblings are all fascinating, but there’s something alluring with the Mazda6. She’s hands down, the sultriest and sexiest one in the family, especially if she comes wearing that tight-fitting Soul Red Dress. She’s the four-wheeled love affair that makes wives jealous and friends envious.

Seeing her drive up is enough to rekindle the flame of driving lust; you know you’re going to have a blast. Father Time has certainly been kind to her. Two years may be forever in car terms, but she has managed to keep her figure. She’s been working out all this time and she’s grown smarter now with a spiffy set of circular LED DRLs making her stand out during the day time. At night, those headlamps grow brightly thanks to active LED main beams that adjust automatically to oncoming traffic. It’s the same with her front fog lamps; they’re smaller, but cast the same amount of light because of LEDs. She’s got new shoes too, but not that you’ll notice at a glance. It’s the same 19-inch design as before, only it’s now of a gunmetal color. In the two years, she’s managed to make herself more like a member of the Mazda family with the new grille and bumper. It’s great and all, especially considering that their youngest, the MX-5 is gaining the most attention; but those chrome fangs sure look out of place.



The greatest criticism thrown against the Mazda6 before was that she was severely lackluster inside. She had all the looks, but none of the classy upbringing. To twist the lyrics of a song, she was the downtown girl in an uptown world. That’s all changed this time. She’s clearly learned her manners and has got the cabin to prove it. Everything has been reshaped, re-tweaked, and revised. The most noticeable one is the contrasting piece of leather running across the length of the dashboard. The white-colored leather (not the cheap imitation stuff) is an added premium of P 16,800 and serves as the perfect reminder that you’re in a 6 and not in a 3. And she gets better from there. Move your eyes around and notice the new brushed metallic accents. It’s the same sort of stuff found in the window switch bezel and gearlever base, removing that awful corrugated plastic stuff and piano black trim. She also has better cup holders and more cubby spaces than before. And as you settle into the sweet embrace of her seats once more, you notice the new Mazda Connect system, complete with the floating screen and rotary dial control. It’s a love or hate thing, but there’s no denying it gives a very supercar-like feel especially when you notice the white-leather trim running the length of the center console (if you’re not a fan of the bright cowhide though, you can still opt for black).

As sexy as she is though, she’s got one major quirk: ingress/egress. Headroom is fairly limited front or back thanks to that sweeping roofline. So if you’re not careful, she’ll have you bumping your noggin going in or out. You can certainly lower the seat height (at least for the front passengers) to compensate for that, but you’ll do so at the detriment of the ideal driving position.



Once you’re inside though, she does have a nice and ergonomic cabin. The seats are supportive and balance both comfort and support. Her gauges, with her revamped graphics, remain one of the most straightforward and easiest to use. An interesting side note is that the i-ELOOP display is no longer in the gauges; it has migrated into a submenu in the Mazda Connect system. Replacing that is a screen dedicated to her i-ACTIVSENSE, particularly the lane departure warning. That’s a bit of overkill considering it appears twice: once in the gauge cluster and another in the heads-up display; and it’s no more than a few inches apart. This could have been used to display other stuff.

Moving on to the subject of the infotainment system, the Mazda Connect serves as your main communication point with her different functions and settings. Most importantly though, this single change fixes the Mazda6’s biggest problem from before: her tantrum with iPods. Now, she can play tunes confidently how you want them, when you want them (though she tends to keep them playing even when the car’s off). She’s also got a new Bose sound system, but in this application it prioritizes clarity over thump-thumping bass. You can want deeper bass in your Mazda sound system, the Mazda3 Speed does it better.



Just like before, the Mazda6’s model designation isn’t complicated. She makes do with one single engine: a 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine putting out 188 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. Keen observers note that in terms of output, she can’t hold a candle against the competitors’ V6 offerings. But, she can easily out grunt everyone’s normally-aspirated 4-cylinder variants. Still, she’s a drag strip queen, obliterating the 100 km/h in, would you believe, 7.8 seconds. Her secret ingredient, like before, is the responsiveness of the 6-speed automatic which reacts to your every whim and wish. It’s so well programmed that she’ll know when you need to downshift even before you know it. And she’s got that extra detent in her throttle that’ll force a downshift whatever gear you’re in; an extremely useful tool in extracting every bit of performance available. She learns a new trick this time in the Drive Selector function. It’s a little toggle switch just above the electronic parking brake that shoots considerable adrenaline into her system causing her to hold gears longer and increase the sensitivity of the throttle. It isn’t frivolous because she’ll let out an urgency equivalent to a V6. And she’ll sound like it too. The only gripe is that the location should’ve been made within a thumb’s reach. Anyway, with a week’s worth of driving, she returns 8.84 km/L in the worse city traffic (average speed 17 km/h). As it lightens up, it goes up to a whopping 19.01 km/L.

Her on-road manners remain as lovely as it did before, but this time, she’s learned to wear velvet gloves. She’s noticeably quieter thanks to improved NVH. Mazda reckons it’s up to 25 percent better and that could be accurate given how she sounds hushed and relaxed. Even if you pump the tires up to their recommended pressure of 36 PSI front and 46 PSI rear (full load of 5 passengers and luggage), she can ride those rough patches much better. Her kryptonite remains sharp, abrupt obstacles like makeshift village humps. Those jar the cabin and come with an annoying knocking sound from the front suspension. For all her new-found manners though, she hasn’t forgotten how to have fun. Bring her to a sweeping bend and she returns the favor with a flat ride and no body roll. She’ll understeer during more extreme levels of cornering, but you have to remember, she’s a large sedan.



Two years has gone by, and the Mazda6 remains the same lovely car you’ve grown to love. She’s not the first KODO designed car nor the first one fitted with Skyactiv, but by and large, she’s the sexiest and most convincing among her sisters. She’s every bit as fun-loving as she was before, but she gets added qualities of being prim and proper; qualities sought after in the executive sedan segment. She’s still not the plushest rider out there, but she still is the most exciting. She’s was the girl you always wanted to have a fling with. Now, she’s the one you want to marry.



2015 Mazda6
Ownership 2015 Mazda6 2.5 Skyactiv-G Sedan
Year Introduced 2013 (Refreshed: 2015)
Vehicle Classification Executive Sedan
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 188 @ 5,700
Nm @ rpm 250 @ 3,250
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 93~
Transmission 6AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,865
Width (mm) 1,840
Height (mm) 1,450
Wheelbase (mm) 2,830
Curb Weight (kg) 1,444
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Bridgestone Turanza T001 225/45 R 19 W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Front, Rear w/ Reverse Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual Zone, with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
CD
MP3
Aux
USB x 2
Bluetooth
No. of Speakers 11, Bose
Steering Wheel Controls Yes

31 comments:

  1. Is she HIGH MAINTENANCE ?

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  2. Or is she covered by Mazda's 3year FREE preventive maintenance program ... ?

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    Replies
    1. Yes Mazda6 is covered by Yojin-3 still.

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  3. It's kinda weird referring to the car as a "she". Hahaha.

    Anyway, does it have an option for a black interior instead of white?

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    1. Hahaha.

      Yes you can get a black interior still. If you get the black seats, the dash inserts and door inserts will be dark brown.

      White is actually an added option. It costs P 16,800. It's in the story.

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  4. Replies
    1. Click the link in the spec box so see the latest prices.

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  5. It finally has a Central-locking button. -_-

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  6. Good shots. Much better than TGP. Nice review. 4.5/5

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  7. Replies
    1. There's no temperature gauge.

      It's a light that turns blue when engine's cold and turns red with engine's hot. During normal operation, the light turns off. That's the norm nowadays.

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    2. Wow. Even midsize sedans are now adopting the usage of idiot lights.

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  8. The interior looks classy as fuck!

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  9. 19.01 km/L !!! Her rivals couldn't even achieve half of that in light traffic! This babe is truly the no-brainer choice in the midsize girlfriend segment... ;-D All the others look like fat, ugly pigs in comparison...

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  10. Hi Uly, this post is terribly out of topic, but I figured this was the quickest way to reach you. I've been a fan of your work all the way back to the motioncars days, and followed your reviews as you migrated to carguide. As a sign of support, I also bought an issue of Power Wheels magazine (where you're OIC). I love supporting the underdogs, and I was expecting a raw, honest-to-goodness magazine that had none of the obvious flowery articles written to please the sensitive head honchos of car companies, which has been pretty much standard fare for local auto magazines.

    Unfortunately, all I got was the rawness. Understandably, the pictures in the magazine were mostly lifted from the shots you've taken here in the site. Sadly, even the writing needs a bit of fine-tuning. I wouldn't call myself an English prodigy, but it doesn't take that much skill to notice redundant writing, run-on sentences, and the overall lack of style and cohesiveness from your fellow contributors.

    What disappoints me the most, however, was the lingering feeling that the entire magazine was tiptoeing its way around its reviews, avoiding to highlight any unfavorable characteristics of the car you're testing. The entire double cover (with the Navara in front, as opposed to "The Power of Ten") felt too much like a paid advertisement from Nissan. All the articles on that side of the magazine (until the pages flip to the normal section) covered exclusively Nissan vehicles.

    Granted, the current offerings from NPI are miles ahead of their predecessors, whether it be the Navara, Sylphy, or Altima (I’m on the fence about the ugly-as-hell Almera). However, the fact that you dedicated close to 40 pages of exclusive Nissan content, with 95% of them praises (and the remaining 5% genteelism), makes everything feel so…staged. It reeks of Nissan paying for half your magazine’s costs in exchange for good PR. I’d like to believe that you don’t swing that way, but a budding magazine’s got to make money, so it’s plausible.
    What ticks me off though was one part of the X-Trail Fuel Efficiency run, where you pitted the X-Trail 2.0 and 2.5 with the RAV-4 2.5, CR-V 2.0, Montero Sport GLS-V, and Fortuner 2.5 V (c’mon, you didn’t expect us not to know who TF, HC, MM, and TF referred to right?). The highway run was believable, as I also take the same route (Balintawak-NLEX-SCTEX-Dinalupihan roundtrip) to do economy runs for my cars. I wonder though if by “prescribed speed”, you were going at 80 kph or 100 kph. If those are speeds at 100 kph, then they’re pretty incredible considering my smaller displacement sedans also just average around 16 km/L at a constant 100 kph. Anyway, I digress. My beef is targeted towards the city driving FC results – I mean, 13 km/L city driving for a 2.5L 4x4 CUV? Your route was explicitly stated (MOA-Monumento round trips via EDSA), but any driver with enough experience will tell you that those figures aren’t representative of what the average commuter who passes that route on a daily basis experiences. My guess is that the run was done on a Sunday night, with very light traffic, allowing you to coast for majority of the run, and with none of the stop-and-go traffic that kills the efficiency of these relatively high-displacement, heavy crossovers. It’s not even realistic that a car that does 16 km/L on the highway can consistently do 14 km/L in the city. Under real-world traffic (read: EDSA rush hour where average speed is about 10-13 kph), these CUVs will probably do 7-8 km/L, around the same as the 2.5L pickup-based SUVs.

    In any case, I don’t discount the possibility that the X-Trail is more efficient than the RAV4 or CR-V, given its superb CVT and underrated engines. But I do wish that you were able to highlight that fact without sounding so much like a brochure. In fact, that’s my advice as a concerned reader who just wants success for your magazine – sound less like a brochure, and give more honest reviews. I apologize for the very long rant, but I sincerely wish you all the best.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for writing in. Don't have access to my PC right now, but I'll get back to you later. This is going to be an interesting chat so prepare the popcorn.

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    2. Wow, have you just immigrated to this country?!? That style of writing is par for the course for virtually ALL motoring "journalists" here in the country. All the car companies here use payola to make sure these journos follow the corporate line. If you criticize a model too much, don't expect to get invited to the next out-of-town or oversess junket/test drive. The marketing & PR departments of these companies actually furnish these journos the company-approved "talking points" that is why you see these guys effectively parroting and copying&pasting the same marketing BS phrases in their reviews & columns. I have never seen a local car review actually panning any car model EVER.

      By the way, what was your old Motioncars username? The old regulars there post here from time to time, I can identify them easily by the writing style :P. Even AM identifies himself here when he posts :P.

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    3. Personally, I find that the level of motoring journalism has improved tremendously compared to before. Yes, there are still some who don't want to cross the line and don't want to take editorial risks, but for the most part, it's an improvement from before. You don't have to hate a car to call yourself a real "motoring journalist". Fault finding for the sake of fault finding is wrong. Admittedly, there's no perfect car out here, but there are cars which you find to match or exceed your expectations. Of course, there are some that just fall flat.

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    4. Dear Anonymous 7/11/2015 11:09 AM,

      First of all, thanks for writing in. I’m actually more surprised you were able to fit your message in my site’s comment box…I thought there was a word limit! But seriously, I enjoy receiving constructive criticism because I think it enables me to improve on my craft.

      I’ve been in this industry for 17 years and I’ve seen it grow tremendously. As you very well know by now, I pride myself in providing no nonsense car news and reviews since my motioncars days. This is primarily why I left motioncars in 2011. I felt it’s lost its objective providing car buying information and advice. Just check their stuff right now, and all you see is stuff about pedestrians being run over by cars. That’s not what I want, so don’t expect CarGuide.PH to go that route. I love driving, writing, and imparting information to readers. CarGuide.PH is the result of that. I don’t really mind driving a run-of-the-mill sedan or a fancy sports car. Yes, it’s a job perk, but more importantly is that I get to share that experience with you. Commercial success? Nah. Virality? Nah. They’re good and all, but what keeps me going is the fact you guys continue to visit the site.

      Now, going to the subject of Power Wheels Magazine, it’s certainly been a challenge for me personally. This is the very first time for me to lead a team. In the course of my eight months with the publication, the differences of print and online struck me. You don’t just satisfy yourself and your readers. You have to satisfy your bosses, your partners, and even your fellow staff. On behalf of Power Wheels, I apologize for the quality of the magazine. Even if you cited my contributors as a major fault, at the end of the day, it’s my name printed there as Editor-in-Chief.

      Now, allow me to give you a background on what happened. Power Wheels is undergoing a transition with an entirely new editorial team on-board. As such, it was my goal to actually first remove the notion that the magazine’s perennially delayed. I didn’t want partners to worry like a girl missing her period. I figured if we come out on time first, I can always fix the editorial quality later. Second, the ‘Power of Ten’ and the ‘Nissan Navara’ issue were supposed to be two separate issues. The Power of Ten was actually ready to go as early as January-February of this year while the Nissan Navara issue was supposed to run March-April. However, we faced numerous delays in completing both issues—issues that were beyond my control. In the end, that forced us to run both as a double cover. Suffice to say, when we were trying to make it to April, we ended up with a rushed AND delayed magazine. Finally, the limited pages and word count caused us to cut out a lot of content ending up with reviews and/or features that sounded too much, as you said, brochures. Rest assured, we’re going to fix that, but not while we’re constantly huffing our way to deadlines.

      As for the Nissan fuel economy run, it was a Nissan sponsored run, and in hindsight, should have been labeled as such. Again, it wasn’t our intention to make it sound like a ‘praise release’ and I have to hand it to my writer for trying to keep a balanced opinion while trying to satisfy our commitment with Nissan.

      Rest assured, we’re trying to fix the problems with Power Wheels. It will take time and it certainly starts with us coming out on time first. After we’ve improved our timeliness, we can then focus on improving the photography and writing work. We’ll get to that, I’m sure. Count on that.

      Finally, I’d like to end this lengthy reply with a big thank you for following and supporting me through the years. I’m quite touched that you took the time to write this letter and acknowledge that no product is perfect. To say your magazine or website is perfect is tantamount to disaster. Still, if you need to have that unadulterated, no nonsense ‘Uly Voice’, you can always check out CarGuide.PH. Subsequently, there’s also my column in The Philippine STAR entitled, ‘The Car Guy’. Because you know, we’re all car guys. Cheers.

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    5. Hi Uly, thank you very much for your honest reply on the quality of Power Wheels. I understand that all new ventures have birth pains, but as you went into details, it's quite hard not to feel sympathy for your well-meaning efforts. I do hope you catch up on all the backlog and finally have the time to fine-tune the magazine.

      I'll continue to support the magazine once a new issue comes out, though for the meantime I'll be watching out for your reviews here in Carguide.PH first. I wish you the best of luck and may you continue to find success in your automotive journalism career. I'd love to be able to contribute to your site/magazine someday, as I've always wanted to take a shot at pursuing my passion for cars rather than just having an ordinary job.

      P.S. Yes, there's a character limit for the comments (4,096 to be exact). Had to trim down my comment to make it fit at exactly 4,091 characters. :P

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    6. To Anonymous July 12 1:53AM,
      No, I wasn't born yesterday. I've been following automotive reviews for over a decade now and I've learned to sense which are outright "praise releases" (as Uly calls them), and which are honest reviews. Yes, even the most honest reviewers are still careful with their words, but you'd know that they aren't glorifying garbage.

      And that's where much of my disappointment came from when I got myself a Power Wheels issue. Uly is one of the more reliable reviewers in the industry, but several of the reviews printed on the magazine do not live up to the quality of Uly's work. It's not a printed version of Carguide, that's for sure, but at least it's a work-in-progress and I believe that they can improve drastically in the next issues.

      As for my motioncars handle, it doesn't matter. I was nowhere as prominent as AM/AG4, so you wouldn't recognize me anyway. I'm just an ordinary car enthusiast who enjoys reading reviews online, and chiming in with my thoughts every once in a while.

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    7. Whoa. Everybody needs to chill the fuck out. Relax, man.

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    8. Shhh, STFU kiddo while the adults are talking. If you can't accept that maybe Bottom Gear PH's site would be a better fit for your intellectual level. Dun ka makipag-away sa mga kapareho mo.

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    9. More power to Sir Uly and CarGuide.ph! This really is the best local car review website. Auto Industriya and Top Gear PH reviews are way too positive. Personally, I think C! Magazine is the worst car publication in the country. They don't say the negatives and they test way too many cars in the US. I'm really glad that I found this website and I wish there are more local sites that are of the same quality as this. It would be great if you could post new reviews more frequently but that might be too demanding. Keep up the good work, sir!

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  11. paddle shifters option?

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    1. Paddle shifters standard on the Mazda6.

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  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  13. Mazda 6 or Mazda CX-5 AWD?

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