Strengths and weaknesses:
- impressive performance
- overall space
- fuel economy
- slow sales volume
Mazda6 takes on winter … and wins
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of middle ground on the issue of winter driving. Other pressing issues such as a healthy Crosby vs. a motivated Ovechkin or is figure skating really a sport, are equally compelling. Sitting by a warm fire, we heatedly discuss the merits of each side over our favourite beverage; beer vs. a double-double.
In Canada, this year, we have enjoyed an unseasonably warm winter with much less snow falling across the country than normal. So why should I care if my 2012 Mazda6 is equipped with winter tires and whether or not I am comfortable driving on the white stuff?
The 2012 Mazda6 is an inspiring ride for any driver who likes to enjoy sportiness and comfort while having the option to carry up to five people and a ton of stuff. It is by far one of the best midsize sedans in the market, especially when compared to more traditional stalwarts, daring you take the next corner a little faster and enjoy the road for a change.
Power for the Mazda6 GT-V6 model comes in the form of a 3.7-litre DOHC 24-valve with VVT six-cylinder engine. It produces 272 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 269 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm.
Matched to a six-speed Sport automatic transmission, the 2012 Mazda6 achieves 0-100 km/h in roughly 6.5 seconds. This level of performance compares favourably with the much more expensive BMW 328i and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Independent front and rear suspension is compliant when needed and responsive at every turn. Engine-speed-sensing variable power assisted rack and pinion steering is firm to the touch and makes driving a blast, no matter the weather.
Exterior styling is elegant, though still somewhat understated given the target audience. Sharply defined front wheel well arches provide the Mazda6 with an aggressive stance. It looks powerful in the rearview mirror, and the rear section of the car is equally stylish, with graceful lines and details that include dual chromed exhaust tips and elongated tail lights.
Seats are superbly comfortable front and back. Our GT-V6 model comes standard with front seat power and heat adjustment. A leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel and functional dash layout add appeal day or night. On this occasion, the drive into Mosport International Raceway from the Niagara Region is easy to take even when stuck in the Toronto morning rush hour.
The Bridgestone Canadian Winter Driver Training centre is a place to come and learn how to drive in the winter while purposefully making as many mistakes as possible in order to hone your skill level. Our chief instructor for the day makes it clear that if you drive the various courses perfectly, he won’t be impressed because it means you’re not pushing hard enough and driving out of your comfort zone; a place where real learning happens and old habits die.
The one day course is comprised of time on the track, several different closed course exercises and a skid pad demonstration. All are designed to push you past your own personal boundaries and that of the vehicle you are driving.
Each participant drives the vehicle in which they arrived, with a professional driving instructor in the front passenger seat. As an experienced automotive journalist, I was encouraged to bring a young driver to the event and allow them as much seat time as possible. The idea is to start the next generation off on the right path setting them up for decades of enjoyable winter driving.
The morning is spent manoeuvring through strategically placed orange cones on a flat surface similar to a short airport runway. Exercises teach my guest the skill to brake hard from 45 km/h on ice and snow, drive in circles on a slalom course, make emergency left and right turns as well as control the car in both understeer and oversteer conditions.
In the afternoon, part of the Bridgestone Racing Academy track is used to simulate a country drive, with a lot of snow, ice and fast turns thrown in for good measure. The day passes way too fast, but never the next corner as my first-time Canadian Winter Driver Training guest learns to appreciate speed, control and rhythm. Don’t ask him if he hates winter. Not on this day!
Where to Go
Bridgestone Racing Academy
Pontypool, ON L0A 1K0