2020 MAZDA 6 SIGNATURE Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Class leading performance at a more palatable price
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
The 4-door, 5 passenger Mazda 6 sedan line starts with the Sport (base price $24,100), and Touring ($26,700) models, both powered by a 187hp four that makes 186lb.-ft. of torque. Upper echelons of the 6 include the Grand Touring ($29,800), Grand Touring Reserve ($32,300) and the model we tested, the Signature ($35,400). These three upper crust versions utilize a turbocharged four that makes 227hp and 310lb.-ft. of torque.
Since the Signature version sits atop the heap, you would expect it to be the most fully equipped of the bunch, and the Machine Gray Metallic ($300 extra) over Parchment Nappa Leather example we drove was comprehensively fettled indeed. Compare the Signature to the Gran Touring Reserve, and you will find a bevy of tweaks and features only offered on the Signature version. Start at the front with a gun metal grill, which looked particularly good gracing the prow of our Machine Gray Signature 6. The frameless, auto dimming interior rear view mirror did a great job of displaying following and adjacent traffic. Despite its high beltline, the Mazda 6 afford excellent visibility all around. But the low roofline means you need to duck when climbing in or you'll whack your forehead.
By opting for the top model, you'll also enjoy such Signature-only niceties as a leather steering wheel with paddle shifts, an overhead console with an eyeglass compartment, and ultrasuede door and dash trim. Muted gray Sen wood interior panel inserts resonate with simplicity. The splendidly large 7 inch LCD speedometer and tachometer proved reassuringly easy to read, unlike most of the cluttered and frenetic information sources confusing drivers these days.
That 227hp motor has enough low rpm torque to produce a touch of torque steer if you light it off from a standing start. The 2.5 liter Skyactive-G "dynamic pressure" turbo also sounds surprisingly good when you pin its throttle open wide, issuing a substantial and unexpected glasspack burble. Signature equipment also includes a handsome set of gun metallic finish alloy rims that provided just the right finishing touch to the sleek appearance of our ride. These alloys are shod with Falken Ziex 001 radials (225/45R19) that perform admirably on dry pavement, with lots of adhesion and good steering feedback from the electronic power assisted system. This Mazda definitely has the handling chops to stay with baseline sedans from BMW (3 Series) and Audi (A4) costing substantially more.
The Mazda 6 now supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 8 inch color touchscreen display is easy to manipulate via the knurled controller between the front seats, but we found that the touchscreen would not respond to prompts from gloved fingertips. The Signature's interior provides the kind of Zen escape from the real world most mid-price sedans lack. In addition to the ultra soft Nappa Leather seats, the Signature carries a soothing black headliner, rain sensing wipers, and 3 year subscription to SiriusXM Traffic and Travel information. Both front seats are heated and ventilated, and the steering wheel hand grip areas are heated as well. We especially appreciated the simplicity and logic of Mazda's button locations. For example, the steering wheel heater button is located at the extreme left of the array, closest to the steering wheel itself. This may seem obvious from a logical point of view, but you would be amazed at the number of interior designers who hide this switch from plain view.
Given the abundant low end torque of the turbo motor, the 6-speed automatic transmission is perfectly adequate for all passing needs. It can be slotted into its manual gate for specific immediate power requests, but really accounts well for itself when simply left in drive. The drive mode button, conveniently located atop the transmission tunnel, provides a sport setting that is noticeably different from the normal setting. Sport mode accentuates both steering feel and throttle response. Unlike so many recent placebo-like experiences with mode control, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Mazda has fine tuned the differentiation factor in the Signature 6. Sport mode is a worthy ally on a back road.
All in all, the top line Signature version is the 6 to buy. It's price difference over lesser models in the 6 line becomes less significant when you consider all the extra equipment and driving joy this finely tuned sport sedan provides.
2020 MAZDA 6 SIGNATURE
ENGINE: 2.5 liter inline 4, dynamic pressure turbo with VVT
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 23MPG City/31MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $36,620
HYPES: Responsive Engine, Beautiful Fit and Finish
GRIPES: Low Roofline
STAR RATING: 9 Stars out of 10