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October 27, 2013

New Mazda6 makes a bold leap forward

The new Mazda6 is the kind of car that could rattle some solid structures in the auto kingdom.

As a medium-sized sedan, the Mazda6 stands in the most populous sector of the car business — more people drive mid-size sedans than any other type of automobile. Therefore car companies stake a lot on the models they sell in that category, building franchises around such perennially popular vehicles as the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

But the re-modeled Mazda6 isn’t like other mid-size sedans. It boldly charts its own course, with a svelte and sinuous, muscular appearance, with assured and satisfying performance, useful technology and affordable pricing. Its go-it-alone route is so appealing that the Mazda6 could force larger car brands to notice and, hopefully, imitate some characteristics that Mazda builds into the new model.

As an encouraging first step toward that outcome, drivers are signaling approval.

Following a brief quiet spell right after the next-generation Mazda6 arrived at the start of this year, “the vehicle has just taken off,” said Anthony Scenna, general sales manager of Lannan Mazda in Lowell. “After about two or three months, it was like the floodgates opened up. Through July and August we were taking deposits on cars that were still on the ships coming from Japan.”

The Mazda6 is manufactured in Hiroshima, Japan, where the company’s global headquarters also is located. Mazda North American Operations, based in Irvine, Calif., has been selling cars in the U.S. since 1970.

I felt like I was driving something special each time I motored in the Mazda6 I evaluated last week. Approaching the car in my driveway or in a parking lot, I noticed its stand-out shape, its youthfully athletic attitude and its gleaming finish. Inside the cabin I felt well attended by a stylish, comfortable, and invitingly functional environment. In motion I was assured by the effortless precision and easy power that the car put beneath me. And I loved the fuel economy, averaging 35 miles per gallon through seven days of mostly around-town driving.

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