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August 3, 2020

Review: 2020 Mazda6 2.5 Turbo Signature

Just when you thought all the stories about the Mazda6 could be told, Mazda Philippines brought in what could be considered as this generation’s, “Mi Ultimo Adios”—the sedan fitted with the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-Turbo engine. While it doesn’t drastically alter the general formula, it does manage to unlock additional miles in the segment’s already most fun-to-drive executive car.

It’s hard to imagine but the Mazda6 has been around since 2013. A major facelift has given the front-end the “Evolved KODO Design,” but for the most part it’s been left unchanged from before. Seeing the design language meant for the all-new Mazda3 and CX-30 grafted onto the sweeping, flowing lines of the original KODO design takes some getting used to at first, but it manages to work well. For fans of bolder color choices, this year’s Mazda6 color palette also marks the return of Soul Red Crystal accompanying the usual myriad of more subdued colors like Snowflake White or Machine Gray.

Taking on the “Signature” trim designation, the Mazda6 teaches a lesson to the rest of the executive sedan field. It’s pretty obvious Mazda’s brought their A-game here with exotic Sen wood, Nappa leather, and Ultrasuede. Frankly, it’s an interior befitting a sedan twice its price. And yet, at P 2,250,000, it’s more affordable than the ho-hum Honda Accord.

The shift towards a more premium execution has had another profound effect on the Mazda6: the true embrace of minimalism. Rather than embellishing the cabin with busy, crisscrossing shapes and patterns, Mazda has opted for the opposite, moving to a simplified horizontal motif. It’s ballsy and only works because the interior materials are just so damned good.

Look hard enough, and you’ll still notice some connections to the 2015, and in turn, the original 2013 model such as the odd location of the engine starter button. Even so, the new environment is a welcome upgrade. The seats don’t just feel supple, but are more supportive and offer a wider range of adjustment than before. The new gauge cluster, with a 7-inch TFT LCD screen looks cleaner while the new knobs and buttons for the climate control look and operate more like in a high-end Hi-Fi system than in a car. For 2020, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is now standard as well.

Sadly, the execution isn’t flawless. Putting a 360-degree camera is great in principle, but it’s largely negated by the low-resolution camera. It’s further exacerbated by the center display’s already small size which splits the feed into two (360-degree plus front or rear view). It makes everything look so miniscule and almost undecipherable that you’ll end up relying on the sensors rather than the camera for tight parking maneuvers.

In addition, it’s worth noting though that as with any other Mazda, the focus of attention is focused solely on the front seats; not that the rear accommodations are subpar. The seats, regardless of their location is comfy, but it’s just that all the toys (ventilated seats among other things) prioritize the people sitting in front (there’s a rear USB charger mounted in the center armrest now though). That, and the fact that the rear headroom could be a bit better, especially for the guy sitting in the middle of the backseat.

Mazda’s decision to concentrate on the driver (and by extension, the front passenger) says a lot about what’s in store with regards to its driving dynamics. In what could be the current Mazda6’s “final form,” the sedan now comes with a choice between the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D, or this: the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-Turbo. It makes 231 horsepower and 420 Nm of torque using regular 91 octane fuel on, get this, regular 91 octane unleaded. Filling it up on the premium stuff boosts the output to an even 250 horsepower.

For all intents and purposes, the Mazda6 finally has the makings of a sports sedan, and true enough there are hints of that coming out every so often, but for the most part, the performance is best described as, “spirited.” It won’t run circles around an appropriately engined BMW 3 Series, but it does come pretty close at times. If the non-turbo version already delivered progressive power, this one does even more so, but with added oomph and urgency.

The oddly linear nature (as opposed to the typical on/off behavior) of Mazda’s turbo has to do with its technology called, Dynamic Pressure Turbo. During initial acceleration, the turbocharger feeds the air through a smaller opening, similar to putting a finger over the end of a hose to increase pressure and flow. At higher exhaust volume, the turbo is able to operate normally.

On paper, it delivers a 0-100 km/h time of about 6.4 seconds, but for those who’d like to know how it behaves on the drag strip, it does have some difficulty in putting the power down. Partly it has to do with the rather narrow tires (225/45R19s), but wheel spin and torque steer greets drivers off the line. And even if you get the launch right, the tires will spin again when the engine reaches peak horsepower. Moreover, the acceleration seems to flatten a bit in the mid-range only to surge again as the tach passes the 4,000-rpm mark. This is a trait most people won’t notice unless you’re the type to flog it up a set of twisty roads.

More than just a new engine, the Mazda6 gets an extensively reworked chassis as well. The platform may be almost a decade year old, but nothing’s been left untouched. With the steering rack now rigidly mounted to the chassis, it feels quicker and more responsive than before. And given this is an executive sedan, the ride’s been improved as well. The chassis’ added rigidity and revised suspension (including increased travel) makes for improved plushness and quietness (though some tire noise is still evident at highway speeds).

One could argue that the 2.5-liter turbo is the engine the Mazda6 deserved from the start; that’s absolutely true. But the greater scheme of things, it’s just icing on the cake for an executive sedan that’s managed to sharpen itself in the seven years it’s been around. This is one old dog that’s managed to learn a new trick or two or ten along the way, and for that remains cemented as the true driver’s choice in its segment.

2020 Mazda6 2.5 Turbo Signature
Ownership 2020 Mazda6 2.5 Turbo Signature
Year Introduced 2013 (Refreshed: 2015, 2018)
Vehicle Classification Executive Sedan
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basic
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 231 @ 5,000 (250 @ 5,000 on 95 Octane)
Nm @ rpm 420 @ 2,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.9 km/L @ 16 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,870
Width (mm) 1,840
Height (mm) 1,450
Wheelbase (mm) 2,830
Curb Weight (kg) 1,595
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Bridgestone Turanza T005A 225/45 R 19 W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front & Rear, 360-degree camera
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Blindspot Monitoring System
Lane Departure Warning
Lane Keep Assist
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Headlight Integrated
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way, w/ Memory
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 6-way
Seating Surface Nappa Leather, Ventilated (Front)
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
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual Zone with Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 11, Bose
Steering Controls Yes

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