Words by: Adam Allen
Our beautiful, incredible world is full of mysteries, some big, some small. They run the gamut from the serious stuff like uncovering the building blocks of matter, thanks to the scientists at CERN (if you don’t know what we’re on about, you need to look into this) to the more trivial bits like just how do they get that soft flowing caramel into a Caramilk bar, and why do some folks wear PPE when they are alone and in their own car? Suffice it to say, there are several questions that remain unanswered.
There is an automotive enigma that sparks a renewed gnawing at our subconscious every time we slide behind the wheel of a Mazda6, and that is this: why are more people not buying this car? Understanding that 2020 was a wretched year for sedan sales at large- every single model on sale saw sales plunge alarmingly- most of that red ink is pandemic related but it also paints a grim picture of an overwhelming migration of interest to crossovers and SUVs. Here in Canada, less than 2,000 people anted up to park a Mazda6 in their driveways. That is as astonishingly low number of customers for a car that is, in our humble opinion, near the top of its class.
The lack of takers cannot be explained because of styling- the 6 is not an ugly car. Far from it, because we have applauded the GJ1 3rd generation that first bowed in 2012 for its striking duds and have remained impressed over the years since. It’s been nipped here and tucked there, with 2018 being the last time the sedan received any meaningful updates. Nine years is nearly an eternity for automotive product cycles, yet the design has aged well and doesn’t seem dated. Our tester was turned out in Kuro Edition trim, which Mazda says is ideal for those “pushing boundaries to forge new paths.” Whether that describes you or not, you will be treated to a fetching Garnet Red interior, some red stitching flourishes inside as well as two excusive exterior colours; Polymetal Grey Metallic and Jet Black Mica, the latter which adorned our example. Combined with its black wheels, it gave off a sinister vibe and even managed to turn a few heads. Was that because this is a relatively rare car plying our roadways or because the Kuro treatment ups the visual wattage? We think perhaps it might be a little of both.
You might be wondering if the Kuro treatment does anything to enhance the driving experience one is treated to when driving a Mazda6. The answer is nothing whatsoever, but guess what? It really didn’t need much help in that department. It’s front wheel drive roots are well disguised by thoughtful engineering, and it features the same G Vector Control Plus’ discreet software that allows for subtle inputs to the throttle here and there when you turn into a corner which translate into more control and by extension, better handling. To see these lines of code in action, we took our tester to a somewhat secret ribbon of tarmac that we are known to frequent which is not only fun as hell to drive but is the perfect environment to expose any chassis flaws that you wouldn’t uncover simply driving around the city. In this context the 6 shines. It was so good at keeping up a brisk pace that we didn’t even use the paddle shifters because the 6-speed automatic is that good at finding and keeping you in the right gear. We did however put it in Sport Mode which adds just enough pointiness to the car without making it feel nervous or frenetic. The 6 rewards delicate inputs you make with your fingertips, instead of ham-fisted directional changes. We wouldn’t mind if the power were sent to the rear wheels (and this might happen, with a rumored switch to RWD and a cool inline straight six up front) but as far as FWD sedans go, it’s a winner.
Kuro trimmed models have Mazda’s turbocharged inline four providing motivational duties and it still feels as strong as it did the first time we flogged it a few years ago. It makes less power on regular gas, but we fed it a diet of premium go-go juice to maximize performance. The 2.5 turbo isn’t particularly soulfully sounding nor does it enjoy spending time spinning near the redline, but darned if it doesn’t give the 6 a serious fleet of foot feeling when you’re unwinding a twisty road or simply merging onto the highway. It can play the efficiency card if you want it to; we even managed to coax 9.2L/100km out of it over the week it spent in the Carpages Garage and we are not known for having a light throttle foot.
By now you know how our finely tuned critical eye is never at a loss to find stuff to complain about, but it should be noted that the 6 Kuro didn’t leave us with a lengthy list of gripes. We hope that Mazda will see fit to install the newer version of its infotainment system because the one it’s got feels exceedingly long in the tooth, taking its time to switch between menus and not looking all that graphically sharp in the process. We pined for a Heads Up Display that would default to off on startup and wished that some of the electronic nannies were a little more lenient.
After we gave back the keys, it became clear that Mazda has the confidence that the 6 is compelling enough car to receive cool packages like the Kuro model you see here as it ages. We still don’t have an answer as to why more people don’t buy this car but you can do your part and get your hands on one. C’mon, just do it! Sedans are cool! We can accept that most people reading this will take that advice and promptly scuttle over the showroom where they park the CX-5s (which is also available in Kuro trim, by the way.) That said, the Mazda 6’s excellence often goes overlooked but we think it deserves your attention.
2021 Mazda6 Kuro Edition- Specifications
- Price as tested: $39,800
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger Sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/Front-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
- Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged inline-four, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 250 @ 5,000 rpm (91 Octane Fuel), 227 @ 5,000rpm (87 Octane Fuel)
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 320 @ 2,000 rpm (91 Octane Fuel), 310 @ 2,000rpm (87 Octane Fuel)
- Curb weight: 1,627 kg (3,587 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.2L/100km (26 mpg)