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2018 Mazda6 Signature

After months of waiting, we finally have the chance to drive the facelift 2018 Mazda6 Signature. This is the one car we've been anticipating since the start of the year when it was shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show right around the New Year. In fact we had the 2017 Mazda6 GT 6MT during the time this new model was announced which made it a little difficult to review, since it was already obsolete when we filmed.

Back to this car. Mazda has started a new trim level with their mid-size three row crossover SUV, the CX-9, by giving it a Signature model, adding nappa leather, genuine wood trim, and slight ambient lighting to the front and interior of the vehicle. This Mazda6 is now the second vehicle to bear this trim designation, and it certainly takes things to the next level. In fact there's quite a lot new about this facelift, so let's get to the exterior.

First off we find a revised front-end following a similar design language found on the 2018 Mazda CX-5 GT. There are subtle changes such as the lack of LED fog lights but replaced with chrome strips along the bottom. Two front parking sensors are also located underneath each adaptive LED headlight, and the familiar Mazda active cruise control badge sensor is located up front. The Signature trim comes with 19" alloy rims, keyless access to the front doors, and four more parking sensors along the rear end. A power/spring opening trunk is not offered on this vehicle.

The Signature trim also adds a 360º top-down view camera system, by placing additional cameras on the front of the car and under the side mirrors. We noted that the 360º mode itself looks quite good, very comparable to other vehicles offering this such as the 2018 Kia Optima SXL Turbo, however the video resolution for the front and rear cameras feel quite low, but it could be as simple as a software update for the Mazda Connect infotainment system down the road.

The interior of this car is where the Signature trim starts to shine, and something we discussed heavily during our episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature. The core interior layout is the same as the 2017 Mazda6, but almost all the materials have been updated and enhanced with seriously premium quality. Signature allows you the choice of white or dark chestnut nappa leather, which adorns the seats, centre console, door cards, and most of the dashboard. Mazda has also opted for Ultrasuede® throughout the centre of the vehicle which is found just under the air vents and runs along the width of the dashboard, and along the door cards.

Wood is also found along the door cards and dashboard. We note during our drive that this specific vehicle has 5 different materials, much like the 2018 Cadillac CT6 Platinum we featured earlier. We don't have any issue with this, as we think the different materials and colour scheme work well together, but we do acknowledge that some buyers might not like all the different textures found throughout.

Climate controls have been updated and give this car a more premium feel over Mazda's other vehicles. The controls are elegant with piano black shine to most of them, with a matte finish along the bottom buttons. Ventilated seats are also offered for the first time up front, with the 4 outboard seats receiving heat, and the driver's steering wheel. The dual-zone automatic climate control is now an industry standard, but worked very well.

While the software hasn't been changed, the 8" Mazda Connect screen that sits slightly recessed in the dashboard has a newer design and updated screen. Mazda claims the screen has better resolution and colour reproduction, however we didn't have a chance to confirm that on our own. The screen does operate the same as Mazda's current offerings, and was speedy when switching between the map software and 360º camera system. We also noted during our drive that the cameras were able to be activated at high speeds, most other systems require the vehicle to be travelling less than 10kph or slower, so we're not sure if this was an oversight in the safety tech.

I can't talk about Mazda's infotainment without talking about Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These features are not available on the 2018 Mazda 6 Signature at this time, but will be available with a retroactive update closer to the end of the year.

One of the important elements of this update is the performance aspect of the vehicle. Mazda has kept the same G-Vectoring Control and 6-speed automatic transmission, and also has killed off the 6 speed manual entirely. The engine has received a boost, literally. The 2.5L turbocharged SkyActiv-G engine from the Mazda CX-9 has been added to the Mazda6. Producing 250 horsepower with 93 octane (which in Canada is relatively rare), and 310 lb-ft of torque, the Mazda6 on premium will fall in the middle of the other 4 mid-size family sedans we've featured thus far.

The engine's 87 octane rating is 227 horsepower, which is still decent for this size of vehicle, but it's important to note that Honda, and Toyota both offer more power out of their engines and don't require the use of premium fuel. We haven't had a chance to feature other vehicles in the mid-size segment, but as configured this vehicle has more power than the 2018 Volkswagen Passat and 2018 Honda Accord we featured last month.

Ride handling and comfort was good on our short road test, and we are fond of the G-Vectoring Control system found on Mazda's vehicles which helps keep occupants more level during cornering. The engine performance as mentioned will be on-par with most of the competition, it certainly isn't close to Mazdaspeed performance though, which had about 24 horsepower over this back in the mid-2000s. It certainly is a welcome addition over the less powerful 2.5L naturally aspirated engine, but we do feel that some buyers may want more performance, and will be looking at something like the 2018 Toyota Camry which offers 301 horsepower on regular fuel.

But performance might not be the most important thing for buyers of this Signature trim. In fact, we think this 2018 Mazda 6 Signature has a lot more in common with the 2018 Lexus ES 350 we featured in November, and it's clear to us that Mazda has their eyes on the premium market now. You do get a bit more power out of the Lexus, along with that luxury nameplate, but it costs about $10,000 more than our test model Mazda 6. The MSRP for this vehicle with the $450.00 Soul Red paint comes to $39,250.00 Canadian, which is right in line with the other vehicles in this segment, but certainly can tempt buyers away from the premiums like Buick, Infiniti, and Acura, and might even get some Lexus customers interested.

We're excited that we had the chance to feature this 2018 Mazda6 Signature on TestDrive, and we'd like to send a special thanks to Mazda Saint-Hyacinthe for allowing us to drive their Signature model. We're very excited to get the chance to drive this car down the road, and we do plan on featuring it in an episode of TestDrive Showdown. For now you can watch our full episode of TestDrive Snapshot on this vehicle, and check out our high-res images:

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