* Model: 2018 Mazda6 Signature
* Exterior color: Machine Gray Metallic
* Interior color: Chestnut Nappa Leather
* Engine: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo
* Horsepower: 227-horsepower
* Transmission: Six-speed automatic
* Fuel economy: 31 mpg highway, 23 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Tim Short Mazda
* Price (as tested): $36,140
Over time, the knock on the otherwise-excellent Mazda6 sedan has been the lack of a performance-oriented version.
While competitors in the segment offered tire-spinning V-6 or turbocharged four-cylinder engines, all the Mazda6 cars had the same competent-but-unexciting normally-aspirated four-banger.
The 2018 Mazda6 Signature puts the issue to rest with a new 227-horsepower, 2.5-liter, turbocharged engine shared with the larger Mazda CX-9 crossover. The result is a potent, high-revving family sedan that should appeal to Chattanooga-area driving enthusiasts as well as those who simply value the Mazda's sleek design and proven durability.
The Mazda6 Signature's zero-to-60 miles per hour time has been clocked at 6.4 seconds, and the car-maker says adding 93 octane gas to the tank (instead of the normal 87 octane) boosts power output from 227 to 250 horsepower.
WHAT IS IT? Our tester, a 2018 Machine Gray Metallic Mazda6 Signature, is a five-passenger mid-size sedan last redesigned for the 2014 model year. The Signature edition (starting at $34,750), is a new trim line for the Mazda 6 which also comes in Sport ($23,000), Touring ($25,700) and Grand Touring ($29,200) versions.
Perks included in the Signature edition price include Chestnut Nappa leather seat covers, real Japanese Sen wood trim and an 8-inch touchscreen.
HOW MUCH, AND WHERE? The MSRP on our tester is $36,140 which includes a $300 upcharge for the metallic paint, a $75 cargo mat, $125 scuff plates and an $890 delivery fee. Mazdas are available locally at Tim Short Mazda on International Drive. Earlier this week the dealership had a half-dozen Mazda6s in digital inventory, but no Signature-trim models on the ground.
COMPELLING DESIGN While at a Burger King drive-through on Signal Mountain Boulevard a cashier admired the Mazda6. "Is that a Corvette?" he mused. "Not, exactly. It's a Mazda," I explained.
OK, so he wasn't exactly a car genius, but still the Mazda6 cuts a nice profile and looks more upscale that most other midsize cars. The interior is sumptuous, with soft leather seat surfaces. Meanwhile Ultrasuede and real wood inserts in the doors and dash give it a near-luxury ambiance.
THINGS WE LOVED Gorgeous 19-inch wheels, ingenious trunk cubbies to hold loose grocery items, feather-weight doors, the small beefy steering wheel, the Boise sound system and a new head-up display that projects onto the windshield instead of a flimsy pop-up screen like before.
THINGS WE DIDN'T The too-gray interior color combination, radio graphics that often cut off the track title and/or artist, lack of color contrast in the dash instruments, limited head-room for six-footers and cup holders positioned too far aft.
BOTTOM LINE A refined family sedan has added a near-luxury trim level with more power and creature comforts. Mazda squeezes an extra measure of goodness out of its 5-year-old Mazda6 design.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.