Mazda 6 Sport

I’ll be the first to freely admit that I am completely befuddled when an automaker officially markets a car as a “.5� model year. Barring a vehicle receiving notable updates six months before a complete overhaul, I profess to not seeing the point of half a model year. In this case, a new turbocharged engine is on tap for 2018, hence this car’s odd relationship with the calendar.

We’ll round this one up, then. The Mazda 6 sedan is an attractive car, offering a decidedly non-wallowy driving experience and – ye gods! – a manual transmission. It doesn’t hurt that one of our scribes just paid his own hard earned money for one. We’ll let you guess who in the comments.

The relatively paltry sum of $21,945 is only a few shekels more than the one-size-smaller Honda Civic coupe. That model was considered for today’s Ace of Base but was tossed aside like a battered copy of Forbes magazine thanks to it lacking a couple of options — certain features I can tolerate being missing from its cheaper sedan brother, but not in the more expensive coupe.

Anyways, back to the 6. Despite being on sale for the better part of a decade, it remains one of the best-looking cars in the midsize sedan segment and one of the few that can be fitted with three pedals, so long as one chooses the current 184 horsepower inline-four. Once the 227 hp turbo mill shows up in 2018, it’ll only be offered with an automatic, at least with that particular engine.

Naturally, air conditioning is standard in a car priced north of twenty grand, but it’s a few other features that nudge this 6 into the Ace of Base parking lot. Push-button start and a leather wrapped tilt/telescope wheel greet the driver, while passengers are placated with all manner of power accessories and a back seat armrest. While some may chuckle at that last item, more than one manufacturer has been known to delete that particular feature in a bid to save pennies on the base model.

Infotainment is acceptable, displayed by an electronic billboard which is controlled by a scroll wheel located down on the centre console. This approach does clean up the dash, making the car look more expensive inside than it actually is. Considering that where, y’know, drivers will actually be spending their time, that’s a Very Good Thing.

Vexingly, the electronic billboard responds to touch commands … but only up to about 5 mph. I guess the folks at Mazda don’t trust us to drive and jab at a screen simultaneously. Okay, fine; it’s still frustrating for the passenger.

Trouble is, of course, few are buying the thing. Only 33,402 of them left dealer lots last year. The Camry? More than 10 times that number. I can’t criticize – I’m part of the problem. In 2006, I bought a brand new four-cylinder stick shift hatchback 6 with a spoiler and smoked lenses from the Mazda dealer on Kenmount Road. It’s replacement in ‘09? A Ford Edge crossover. Oh dear. At least that was then replaced by a Dodge Charger in 2012.

Nevertheless, the mix of great looks and a four-door Miata vibe to its handling makes the Mazda 6 a desirable car. It’s price point cements its spot on our list.

[Image: Mazda]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.