Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2017 Mazda6
The Mazda6's engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that has 184 horsepower and 185 foot-pounds of torque. There's no turbo but very high compression, which is great for power and efficiency but usually requires the use of high-octane premium fuel to avoid engine knock. But that's not the case here.
Mazda's SkyActiv technology allows for high compression without high-octane fuel, which is important for more than just power -- it's a significant money saver.
The 6's engine also saves you money the straightforward way by burning less gas. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the manual transmission gas mileage at 24 mpg city and 34 highway; and the automatic transmission at 26 mpg city and 35 highway.
On the Road
Like the Miata, the 6 is not all about the engine. It's easy to make a car go fast -- just add more horsepower and stomp on the gas pedal. It's trickier to make a car fun to drive. The 6 excels at that, in spite of its relative horsepower deficit.
Part of the fun is working the revvy four-cylinder engine (which reaches 7,000 rpms) via the manual transmission: slipping the clutch and heel-and-toe work. This is a pleasure not available in competitors with automatic transmission and a six-cylinder engine.
The 6 also features torque vectoring, an electronic system that works by using engine braking (modulated via subtle alterations of ignition timing and power delivery) to weight the front wheels during corners with high G-force, effectively increasing the car's contact patch and, therefore, its grip on the road.
The system is totally in the background -- unlike traction and stability control, which are reactive systems that you can feel coming on when the brakes are pumped and the throttle is suddenly cut.
These after-the-fact systems may keep the car under control, but they do not enhance the feeling of being in control.
At the Curb