The 2014 Mazda6 GT: Ice Storm Edition

By Michael Lockhart

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When it comes to winter driving, it’s always exciting for us to see how particular models hold up as the mercury plummets far below the season’s average. But when the great East Coast ice storm of 2013 crashed down on our holiday parade and came face-to-face with our 2014 Mazda6 GT, the car proved more than ready to rise to the weather’s challenges.

Available in three trim levels (sport, touring and grand touring), the Mazda6 is equipped with a SkyActiv-G 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, producing a respectable 184 horses of power and 185 pound-feet of torque. Our high-end manual GT was certainly an eye-catcher, featuring 19-inch platinum silver alloy wheels, rear lip spoilers, leather-trimmed sport seats and my personal favorite: the stunning bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights that give the vehicle an almost menacing presence.

Despite the car’s bold, sporty looks, in a storm it all comes down to the handling and a set of mighty Bridgestone Blizzak tires to keep this car both nimble and capable on the road. Mazda’s new i-Eloop tech, or Intelligent Energy Loop, is definitely useful in these icy conditions. As the world’s first capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system (similar to what we saw in the Cadillac ELR), the i-Eloop requires no heavy battery pack and saves valuable fuel by recovering some of the vehicle’s kinetic energy to power components. At 25/37 mpg for the manual, it’s already pretty decent when it comes to the fuel mileage.

Gearing up through the six-speed box on pitch-black urban freeways, the Mazda6 offered a sense of durability and superior handling both traveling over rigid ice and around snowy curbs and fallen trees. This flexibility and suspension saved us a few times from surprise objects through this obstacle course, with the hero being the new lighter body that consists of 58 percent high-tensile steel for a weight reduction and stronger shell from the previous generation. Extremely impressive, considering the rapid response to last-minute lurches and gear changes, even with lower torque and power than similar-sized competitors.

Since being revealed in Moscow in 2012, the new-faced Mazda6 has led the charge of Mazda’s big Kodo design language turnaround—a vital step for the company, essential with so much competition in the mid-sized market. However, anyone who has doubted this Japanese brand’s ability to go head-on with the established American and German sedans in northern climates will be happily surprised.

Clean, gorgeous styling, attractive interior with all the bells and whistles and engineering that can hold its own in any condition: this is truly a vehicle I would have no hesitation in putting in my driveway.

Available now starting at $20,990. For more information, visit MazdaUSA.com


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