The Mazda 6 is a fine car if you're looking for a mid-size family sedan. The V-6 is strong and smooth, the six-speed automatic selects gears smartly and without drama, and the ride is comfortable without being flaccid. Mazda also has the best-looking car in the segment with those dynamic, shapely fenders. Yet, when Mazda enlarged their American-market mid-sizer for the 2009 model year, they lost the biggest thing they had going for them: a car that supported their uniquely sporty image. Unlike the engaging Mazda 3, the 6 doesn't have that nimble, faster-than-it-actually-is feel.
Since last year's sales numbers aren't comparable to previous years, we can't say if the upsizing is paying off. However, I do know that the auto market can't support every Mazda, Suzuki, or Mitsubishi as a mainstream manufacturer. If you want your brand to embrace a niche ideal, you have to be willing to accept the niche market. I hope Mazda isn't abandoning its beliefs for volume, as the company has traditionally been one of the best at building entertaining vehicles in practical packages at affordable prices.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor