I can’t recall another Ride Me test car that impressed me as much from the get-go as the 2018 Mazda6 did.
Walking over to the driver-side door, I stopped in my tracks at that side’s front tire, which was wrapped around what had to be the sportiest looking 19-inch alloy wheel I have ever seen.
The next thing that caught my eye was, upon opening the door, seeing one of the aluminum scuff plates with the Mazda6 logo running parallel to the raised white one on the black carpeted floor mat below it. Classy!
Then I started the engine, stepped gently on the gas pedal and felt the power.
That’s when I realized, oh man, this sucker could get me in trouble if any police radar guns are nearby.
What I was riding in–within the posted speed limits, officer–was a Snowflake Pearl White midsize sedan with the Signature trim package. I remember seeing one, in a striking red if memory serves, on display at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in April. I vividly recalling thinking to myself, “I can’t wait to drive one.”
It was definitely worth the wait, because it turns out all Mazda6 models (Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and Signature) have been re-engineered.
The Grand Tourings and above now feature Mazda’s award-winning SKYACTIV-G 2.5T gasoline turbo engine, which in my test ride’s case could produce 310 lb-ft of torque from only 2,000 RPM and 250 horsepower at 5,000 RPM on 93-octane fuel.
Indeed, my delivery was the first I recall ever coming with a suggestion that I use premium fuel because of the turbocharged engine. According to Mazda, the Signature’s engine still will put out 227 hp at 5,000 RPM on 87-octane gasoline.
Hey, whatever it was drinking, the driving response was immediate, making me wish that a reason to drive to Vegas would fall in my lap so I could really open it up on an open highway. I could always go reserve season tickets for the Raiders …
As I mentioned, all Mazda6 models have been re-engineered, with the Sport and Touring sedans now featuring standard cylinder-deactivation on SKYACTIV-G 2.5 engines with automatic transmission.
Other changes across all Mazda6 models include: standard front and rear LED turn lights; new front grille and 17- and 19-inch wheel designs; returned suspension and chassis to improve performance and ride; fully redesigned seats with high-density, vibration absorbing urethane foam; and standard Mazda Connect infotainment systems with 8-inch color touchscreens.
All are also now available with “Soul Red Crystal” exterior paint jobs. Perhaps that’s what I saw in Long Beach.
Besides those changes, Touring models and above feature Smart Brake Support, Full-speed Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go function and High Beam Control.
Grand Touring models and above feature such changes as: ventilated front seats, windshield wiper de-icers and windshield-projected, full-color active driving displays.
And then there are the changes just to the Signature models, including: frameless rearview mirrors; overhead console LED courtesy lamps; 360-degree view monitor with front and rear parking sensors; and reconfigurable 7.0 inch transmission fluid temperature gauge display.
But the biggest, and most comfortable, changes to the Signature involve the materials used in the interiors. We’re talking Nappa leather, UltraSuede NU and Japanese Sen Wood.
This is because Mazda wants the Signature in on the conversation when potential buyers are talking about luxury sedans. At just over $36,000 for my particular test ride, affordability when compared to most other luxury cars is also worthy of the chatter.
Keep in mind that the Signature includes standard features carried over from previous years, including paddle shifters, rearview camera, heated mirrors, power moonroof, electronic parking brake, auto-dimming rearview mirror, anti-theft engine immobilizer, an advanced keyless entry system, various warning and alert systems, lane departure warning and keep assist; and eight-way powered driver seats with lumbar support and two-position memory.
On my test ride, the only extra were the $75 cargo mat and the aforementioned $125 scuff plates and $200 Snowflake Pearl White paint job, which along with an $890 delivery, processing and handling fee were added to the Signature’s $34,750 base price.
The cost to operate will be reasonable, as the 23 miles to the gallon city, 31 mpg highway and 26 mpg overall will have you spending only $250 more in fuel costs over five years when compared to the average new vehicle, according to government ratings that peg one’s average annual fuel cost at $1,400.
The Signature falls right in the middle with a five rating on the 1-to-10 scale (10 being best) for fuel economy and greenhouse gas, finds the EPA, which only gives it a three for the smog rating.
However, it gets an overall five stars on the government’s 5-Star Safety Ratings.
Mazda offers a 60-month or 60,000-mile (whichever comes first) warranty on the powertrain, 36 months or 36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper and 24-hour roadside assistance.
The 2018 Mazda6 Signature has the looks, has the power and is relatively light on the wallet. If you’re looking for a midsize sedan with luxury features, I’d advise at least giving one a test drive. You really must feel it to believe it.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.