2018 Mazda Mazda6 Signature

We’ve been driving Mazda6 press loaners from Mazda for years now. Mike Thompson drove one back in 2016, and I drove a 2017.5 model last year. Both of those were Grand Touring models and we came away saying that were “pretty good”. We both noted a lack of power in the naturally aspirated 4-cylinder and an overall quality, if not particularly impressive interior. But this 2019 Mazda6 Signature is a different thing and just might make up for both of those gripes. Let’s check it out.

2018 Mazda Mazda6 Signature

Exterior

I’m going to start in the least obvious place, the exterior. I say that because the big story here is that there is a brand new fancy interior and I want to build some drama. The Mazda6 that showed up at my house was painted in Soul Red Crystal which shows up in the “optional equipment” section of the window sticker at $595. And it’s worth every penny. It’s Mazda’s go-to paint color when they want to show off their latest cars and it’s spectacular. You get standard 19″ wheels, which as an enthusiast is still quite amazing. I still recall when it was a big deal for something like an M3 to have wheels that size. Welcome to the big wheel era. The ten spokes on our loaner were pretty nice looking, though I have to imagine that you could really make this car stand out a lot more via the aftermarket.

2018 Mazda Mazda6 Signature

The overall shape of the Mazda6 has been pretty consistent since the third generation facelift, and it’s still a fine looking car. Until recently, it was a clear contender for “best looking mainstream midsize sedan” against the better selling Accord and Camry. But there’s a problem.

2018 Mazda Mazda6 Signature

The new Accord and Camry look really good.

Which is a problem for Mazda, because the 6, at least the most recent generation, has always been a looker compared to the Honda and Toyota. So those looking for something more unique and interesting in the midsize segment had an obvious choice. Now that that’s not the case, can their Zoom-Zoom help?

Driving Dynamics

Aside from a nice bod, the Mazda6 always had a more communicative feel on the road, whether or not that was a direct translation from Mazda’s racing heritage, is unclear. The previous iteration was just that, fun to drive. This one is no different, and while it’s added some safety and security features to help us all be safer drivers, the overall suspension setup feels largely the same.

When I last spent some time with the 6, I noted that the 184 hp 2.5L 4-cylinder “solid out on the road” but continued that that wasn’t “going to win Race Wars or anything” and most importantly “a turbocharged option would be a nice box to tick”.

Boom, enter the turbo.

Tick the box for the Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, or this top of the line Signature and you get a new 2.5L turbocharged engine. For this 2018 test car, it came with 227 hp and 310 ft. lbs. of torque. (note, for 2019 it bumps up to 250 hp and the same amount of toreques) That’s a big difference and it shows. The six feels much quicker now with the extra power. Finally.

Although it’s worth noting that Camry is up to 310 hp with it’s V6 models and Accord has 252 hp with the 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder. Although both have significantly less torque at and 267 ft. lbs. (Camry) and 273 ft. lbs (Accord). So the 6 is no slouch between the stoplights.

2018 Mazda Mazda6 Signature

Interior

The Mazda6 Signature’s party piece is the interior, and I’ll say up front it’s quite good. Like not just “for the money it’s good” but it’s just plain good. Our test car had Chestnut Nappa Leather trimmed sport front seats which were muy impressivo. They are also heated and ventilated, both of which I used during my time driving the car this spring. They are also 8-way adjustable with power lumbar and seat memory, stuff that used to be pretty much just in the lane of actual luxury cars. From a practical standpoint, they did everything you need a seat to do. They are comfortable yet supportive with great side bolsters.

2018 Mazda Mazda6 Signature

The rest of the interior is pretty great as well. The 8″ screen uses Mazda’s typical dial-based controls and works pretty well. I especially liked the redundant buttons next to it for things like radio favorites, etc. Once you get used to the fact that you almost never had to reach up to the dashboard for most functions, it’s pretty great. Back seat space is on par with most competitors, it’s clear that Mazda owns several Camry and Accord models and is measuring them obsessively.

My favorite part of the interior though? The damn gas gauge! It has the range built into it! Check it out in the gallery below, I loved that.

Summary

This car, as tested, comes in at $34,750. It hardly has any options checked because it comes pretty well loaded. That’s right in line with the base price of the Accord Touring, which is their top of the line model. It aligns to base price of the Camry XLE V6 which we’ve driven, a couple of times. And it’s quite good and might tempt me if I were in the market for this segment. As would the Accord, which you can also get with a manual (the manual 6 is gone for now).

So while Mazdaphiles are going to continue to love the latest Mazda6, the mix of attractive looks, still-really-good suspension, and the addition of a bigger engine and gorgeous interior really does make the 6 a great competitor to Honda and Accord.

Bonus Gallery