Ride and Handling – Olympic Medalist Runner in Flip-Flops
The GH chassis is supported by double wishbone front suspensions (MacPherson) and independent E-type multi-link system in the rear (Independent Dual Link) with stabilizer bars at 22mm fore and 20mm aft. It has 60/40 front and rear weight distribution.
Compared to the GG platform, the GH has 39% better bending rigidity and 17% increase in torsional stiffness. The rear trailing arm attachment points are mounted higher and enclosed in larger bushings to enhance anti-lift to keep rear end planted under heavy braking and ride quality. Dampers are mounted more outward and vertical to improve wheel articulation through suspension travel. Rear dampers feature KYB twin-tube nitrogen charged shocks.
Revision in the front includes elimination of two lower links by a single piece forged steel lower arm for enhancement in steering accuracy. Subframe is better isolated to improve noise, vibration and harshness.
Something about Double Wishbone
The double wishbone front suspension features unequal length double A-arm design; it is one of the two in this segment other than the Honda Accord. The advantage of unequal length double A-arm is to maximize tire-to-ground contact thus enhance cornering grip to provide quicker cornering speed and confidence. As the outside tire compresses the suspension, the shorter upper arm allow the upper ball joint to pull inboard to gain negative camber throughout this compression stroke.
Lateral loads are taken by upper and lower arms so the shock absorber can focus on the duty of absorbing and damping oscillations. It provides better ride quality since strut binding due to deflect in the strut housing in MacPherson design doesn’t exist here.
The full jounce negative camber gain can offer longer suspension travel while MacPherson are often limited to avoid adverse effect in handling; too much compression stroke would change from negative to positive camber. Most stock MacPherson design eliminate this problem by limiting travel and longer bump stops, hence, rougher rides.
To host these upper arms, the front fenders are flared. Double wishbone front ends are more expensive to construct due to larger number of joints, and stiffer mounting points in the splash wall where the upper arms are mounted.
So the legs are talented, toned and muscular enough for more than just jogging. They are however paired with some horrible shoes like asking the late Olympic track-and-field gold medalist, Florence Griffith-Joyner, to sprint 100m in flip-flops. The flip-flops on the 6 are a set of P205/65R16 (P215/60R16), Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 Grand Touring all-season low-rolling-resistant tires.
These energy saving Michelins are hushed until taking a corner just a hair beyond speed limit. The tires tend to squeal as you approach its limit of adhesion followed by moderate understeer. From beginning to squeal to totally lose of grip has quite a wide range. The lacking in grip deficit is inverted by providing proper communication and predictable handling as the chassis tuning offers confidence. It’s easy to explore the car’s handling limit as it feels connected to the road. Weird! If the squealing doesn’t bother you, the 6 is capable to generate 0.82g (0.77g) in 300-ft-dia skidpad.
Allowing the 6 to turn is the traditional hydraulic assisted rack-and-pinion steering with 16.2:1 (16:1) steering ratio and 2.83 turns lock-to-lock. Steering has proper weight but the tall tire sidewall dampens too much feedback in performance perspective but better than average for this segment. Perhaps, the “s” Grand Touring’s 235/45R18 tires would offer more road feel. Steering is accurate, making it easy to place the car on the road. The chassis is very responsive to steering input. The car feels light and tossable with great straight-ahead on center feel. Torque steer wasn’t experienced during our test.
Thanks to the double-wish bone design. Ride is supportive yet it seems to work well on any type of pavement and bumps. Body roll is minimal. The 6 feels like is capable to a lot more in the handling department if the flip-flops are chucked.
Braking – An Extension of our Fibula. It is those flip-flips again.
Brakes are responsive. Pedal is properly weighted and easy to modulate. As suggested by its handling, the Mazda 6 is a very easy car to get accustomed to. It offers the kind of feedback like the car is part of your extremity. It is a rarity in this segment but this is how every car should be. Unfortunately, the good pedal feel doesn’t translate to decent braking distance on paper. It takes 183 ft (170) to stop from 70 mph is another reason to drop these tires. A set of better tires would provide much needed improvement.
Workmanship is a little below par compared to its Japan built little brother, the Mazda 3. Hard plastic are noted throughout the dash and the moldings aren’t as refined which leads to wider than expected panel gaps.
Carrying on its little brother’s fame, ergonomics in the 6 is excellent. Driving position is easy to find from the 6-way adjustable driver seat and tilting-and-telescoping three-spoke steering wheel. Switchgears are well placed and intuitive to use. Gauge cluster is situated in the industrial norm hooded pods but very legible and has that crisp, simple yet elegant BMW feel.
Yes, comparing the 3 and 6 is like talking apples and oranges. By judging against the Camry, the 6 all of a sudden is far more superior in design and well-made.
The 101.9 cubic feet (101.4) passenger compartment is quiet. Road noise transmitted through the cabin is minimal. Sound level in 70mph is at 69db (67) and 75db (72) under full acceleration. The quiet interior is perfect for the nearly perfect standard 6-speaker sound system that offers crisp notes and solid bass without a subwoofer encroaching in its class-leading 16.6 cubic feet (15) trunk.
For gadget shoppers, the Grand Touring models come standard with blind spot monitoring system, anti-theft alarm, electroluminescent with red night time illumination gauge cluster, leather seats with heated front, 8-way power driver’s seat, BOSE 10-speaker sound system with Bluetooth. Two option packages are also available, technology and navigation. The fore includes advanced keyless entry system, push button start, memory driver’s seat, passenger power seat, Xenon headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors with heated exterior mirrors, LED tail lights, and multi-info display. The latter is a DVD based, voice activation Navigation System with 7-inch LCD touch screen and real time traffic.
Powertrain Performance & Refinement
Handling & Ride Characteristics
Brake Performance & Feel
Comfort & Workmanship
Features & Technologies
Will I buy one factor
My recommendation factor
Afterthought – We can choose from genetic code CUU, CCU, and CUC. We choose ф.
Most shoppers in this midsize sedan segment are typically middle class, mid-age with median “2+2” household size who are totally committed to family duty which basically suggests that what they drive has no particular influence to their life; driving is simply a daily vital.
Based on this given fact, it is very easy to see why midsize sedans are a clone to one another. How do the shoppers choose one from another is a question to the PhDs in Mid-Age, Mid-class Psychology? I’m not sure how the marketing directors differentiate their midsize sedans from their competitors. Marketing should be a lot easier on the sports models since they can easily pinpoint the manufacturer’s car building philosophy and technical focusing specifications as the selling point. Just like Mazda discussed the steps they took to lighten the rotors in their rotary engine in the RX8 sales brochure. But in the Mazda 6, the technical details were kept minimal. Perhaps, people buy the Mazda 6 because they like the RX8. People buy the Altima because they drool for a GT-R. People with a Camry because they wet themselves over a….er….Avalon.
The Mazda 6 with its somewhat different appeal and drive dynamic yet its performance figures, exterior dimensions and interior roominess are so close to the Toyota Camry. What does this mean? To be competitive in the midsize segment, similarity is the key. Our recommendation for those in the market for one of these clones, be sure to testdrive the 2011 Kia Optima 2.0T. Or for the price of a clone, we would get a 2005 vintage Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG that also has 4 doors, seats 5 and 362hp to the rear wheels. End