Over the last five years it seems that the companies that make midsize sedans are in a race to top. Every year one brand seems to leap-frog another in the competition to build a reasonably priced car that looks and feels like a premium entry from BMW or Lexus. The latest escalation of this conflict takes the shape of the 2014 Mazda 6 sedan. While the Mazda 6 has been around since 2004, the last generation was off the radar for most buyers. With radical, sporty styling and impressive quality this Mazda may be poised to upset the status quo in the segment much the way the Mazda 3 did for compacts 10 years ago.
On the inside the Mazda 6 has a germanic look about it which is a common trend in midsize sedans. What is special about this interior is the materials are comparable in appearance and feel to a 3 series BMW. Everything from the door handles, to the dash padding,steering wheel and shifter feels solid and well crafted. The infotainment and navigation are controlled with a wheel behind the shifter, much like BMW's iDrive. As well as looking expensive the infotainment system is well equipped, even on the base model. All models have bluetooth audio streaming and USB interface. Dual zone climate control is offered on most models which is a welcome feature. Overall the Mazda 6 has the nicest interior of any midsize sedan on sale today.
On the road the Mazda 6 suffers slightly from it less than powerful 189hp 4 cylinder engine. While the car can accelerate fast enough for most day to day driving it lacks an extra punch to match the sporty styling of the car. The transmission is excellent and shifts quickly and smoothly.
The ride of the car is firm but still very comfortable in the tradition of the best sporting sedans. What comes as a disappointment with the Mazda 6 is the steering. It feels much more like something from one its far stodgier rivals like the Toyota Camry. While the car corners very well it lacks steering feel and does not feel responsive. That would be a let down on any car, but it's worse with the Mazda 6 because our expectations are so high.
The bottom line:A beautiful interior and expressive styling all at a reasonable price. This is as close to premium sports sedan quality as the midsize segment gets.