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Defining Fun: Test-Driving the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature

Mazda’s athletic midsize sedan reminds you that fun cars don’t have to shove sportiness in your face.

LOS ANGELES—Mazda has a reputation for building affordable, fun-to-drive cars that are also equipped with relatively luxurious features. The 2020 Mazda 6 Signature we just tested is no exception, especially in this trim level. And while this midsize sedan doesn't appear to have any delusions of being a performance car, it's still an absolute blast to drive. In fact, we liked it so much after our previous brief sting in it, we wanted to get some more time behind its wheel.

This 2020 Mazda 6 Signature caused me to really think about what makes a car fun to drive. After all, it's easy for cars with big power, rear-wheel drive, and exotic looks to sell enthusiasts on the idea that they're going to offer something out of the ordinary, but certain "normal' cars can delight you, in their own way, to almost the same degree as can thoroughbred performance cars.

In the case of the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature, a combination of great steering, powertrain tuning, and chassis refinement make this otherwise ordinary car better than boring. Two weeks behind the wheel made me into a fast fan of this fun sedan.

2020 Mazda 6 Signature Test: Power and Panache

The Signature trim level comes standard with Mazda's torquey, turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that produces 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of twist, sent through a six-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox isn't anything special, but Mazda programmed it well to ensure power is readily available whenever it's needed.

The steering is super accurate and provides great feedback. The ratio exposed itself as somewhat slow through switchback curves, but otherwise it was very easy to get the car to go exactly where I wanted. I won't go as far to say it's Miata-like, but the familial relationship is definitely evident. As I worked the pedals on a spirited test drive, I was surprised at how great the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature felt during cornering.

Part of the reason the Mazda 6 is so fun to drive is the brand's G-Vectoring Control Plus, which pauses ignition in order to ensure torque is distributed efficiently to the front wheels. The system is meant to enhance stability in corners, and from my experience it does the job. Body control remained solid, and the handling had a neutrality that belied the front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout.

The chassis control is incredible and imparts huge amounts of confidence in drivers looking to get the most out of their daily ride. This car's handsome 19-inch wheels were wrapped in all-season tires that actually felt like they suited the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature well, but I couldn't help but wonder how the car would feel on summer tires; no doubt it would be a delight.

Even with its standard rubber, the Mazda 6 Signature exceeds expectations on back roads. At first I experienced a healthy dose of understeer, but as I started working the sedan through its paces, I realized it was capable of tolerating far more enthusiastic driving than I anticipated. The braking, suspension, and differential hardware may not be on the same par as hot hatches or affordable sports sedans, but the car's ability to communicate its behavior to the driver makes it nearly just as much fun.

The taut suspension setup was great on twisty roads, but it could be pretty jarring over poor pavement. This lack of compliance betrays the 6 Signature's otherwise luxurious nature, great interior materials, and sophisticated driving dynamics. It can be pretty loud over imperfect roads, too.

2020 Mazda 6 Signature Test: Sign Us Up

Other than the optional $300 Machine Gray Metallic paint and $100 carpeted cargo mat, everything on this test car comes standard with the trim level. The heated and cooled seats are a huge perk, as is standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. While I'm normally an unequivocal fan of 360-degree parking camera views, the low-resolution images are starting to show their age, especially because the 8.0-inch center display is otherwise very sharp. Mazda's safety-alert noises are more helpful than annoying, which was another pleasant surprise. Whenever I used the turn signals and another car was in the neighboring lane, a helpful chirp cautioned that there was someone else there.

This test car rang in at $36,300, which isn't so bad for a fully loaded premium sedan, which places it right up against competitors like the top-spec Toyota Camry XSE V6 and the range-topping Honda Accord Touring 2.0T. These are segment stalwarts, but the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature has the style, torque, and equipment to butt heads with the best.

Indeed, luxurious appointments, nimble handling, and competitive pricing make the Mazda 6 a compelling midsize sedan, even as we wait in anticipation for the upcoming next-generation model that will feature an inline-six engine sending power to the rear wheels. As great as that sounds, the 2020 Mazda 6 Signature imparts enough driving joy to dull our impatience.

2020 Mazda 6 Signature Edition Highlights

  • Punchy turbocharged engine
  • Great road manners
  • Well-appointed interior
  • Luxurious, upscale features
  • Stylish bodywork
2020 Mazda 6 Signature Edition 2.5L Turbo Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $36,220/$36,620 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.5L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/250 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 310 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 23/31 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 191.5 x 72.4 x 57.1 in
WHEELBASE 111.4 in
WEIGHT 3,305 lb
0-60 MPH 6.5 sec
TOP SPEED 135 mph (est)