Performance » 8
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
the 6 never feels smaller than its size -- you always have the sense that you're piloting a large vehicle
didn't rise above its midsize sedan average character in power train performance
It's sportier than most competitors, though the Nissan Altima is probably more agile.
The steering and braking are refreshingly straightforward
You shouldn't have any reservations about sticking with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that Mazda6 'i' (including base SV, Sport, and Touring) models get. It's reasonably fuel-efficient (not nearly as much as class leaders like the Hyundai Sonata though), and it feels perky whether you go with the six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
Step up to the V-6, however, and you might not be able to go back; the 3.7-liter engine churns out 272 hp, along with plenty of accessible low-rpm torque, making the Mazda6 feel like a muscle-sedan. It's a hoot to drive, but it's also quite a bit thirstier. No matter what, you get nice capable brakes with a firm pedal feel, reasonably good, athletic handling, and a ride that straddles the line pretty well between comfort and sharpness.
Those expecting a serious sport sedan, or moving up from a Mazda3, might want things even tighter though; the current 6—especially in V-6 form—can feel a little too heavy and isolated.
The 2012 Mazda Mazda6 is simply more engaging and fun to drive compared to other mid-size sedans with comparable specs.