The 2018 Mazda6 Goes Upmarket With a New Luxury Interior and a Turbo Engine

A little more punch could go a long way in Mazda's sharp-handling midsize sedan.

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The Mazda6 has always staked its claim on a tiny sliver of the overall automotive market: The midsize family sedan that's actually fun to drive. But the company is betting big on an upmarket push for next year's model, adding a refreshed exterior, redesigned interior, and thankfully, a turbo engine option. America, meet the 2018 Mazda6.

The 2017.5 Mazda6 (yes, that's the real designation for the current model) is already a handsome car, sporting one of the most cohesive exteriors in its class thanks to the automaker's recognizable "Kodo" design language. But building off its beautiful RX Vision concept unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, Mazda's given the 2018 6 a classier grille, a slightly lower stance, and standard LED headlights to help distinguish the new model.

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The term its public relations team wants us to use is "mature elegance"—whatever your opinion on brand speak, it's an apt description for the updated sheet metal here. And all those strategic nips and tucks aren't just skin deep, as Mazda's engineers have stiffened the chassis and updated the suspension geometry to offer a better balance between sharp handling and a smooth ride. Standard G-Vectoring Control further enhances the front-wheel-drive car's composure in the corners, and Mazda also claims the cabin is more acoustically insulated on the 2018 model thanks to a new array of materials and construction techniques.

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Speaking of the interior, it's there that you'll find the biggest changes in store for the Mazda6. Only the steering wheel and a few random bits of trim remain the same from the outgoing car, with a more premium look and feel throughout the cabin. The dashboard has been widened to give the illusion of size, the front seats have been expanded (and in a first for the brand, ventilated seats are available), and a new technology package featuring options like a 360⁰ view monitor.

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But the new Mazda6 interior also doubles as a canvas for the brand's range-topping Signature trim, which debuted in 2016 on the CX-9 crossover. To transform the Mazda6 Signature into a full-on flagship luxury sedan, the automaker added Nappa leather seats "whose color is inspired by the aged wood in ancient Japanese temples," a "subtle gold tint" in the UltraSuede surfaces, and the same wood trim that's found in traditional Japanese drums.

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Under the hood, Mazda has backed up all those visual changes with a punchier turbo engine. Also sourced from the CX-9, the 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engine uses a trick turbo setup to create 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque on 93-octane fuel, which is a significant boost over the numbers from the current naturally-aspirated engine. Six-speed automatic and manual transmissions are available—the press release notes that the Mazda6 remains "a champion of the manual transmission"—but you'll have to stick with the non-turbo engine if you want to row your own.

Pricing details haven't been revealed yet, but expect the 2018 Mazda6 to hit dealerships some time early next year.

2017 Mazda6
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