This is not the fastest car, especially in manual trans trim. Here where your shifting skill counts. But it is smooth. Good powertrain for the class.
I've been averaging over 30 mpg per tank at the pump. Computer usually 1mpg too generous. On some trips I've seen 40 mpgs. My is MT and it is rated considerably lower than AT. But in my book it is good since I've done same mileage in my 2011 Mazda3, which also was noisier, less comforting and generally, smaller car with smaller engine. So, I do about same MPG average and HWY as my 2011 Mazda3
This is where the car is brilliant. Handling, steering, braking, etc. It does as good as my Mazda3 in curves. For a huge car this is just amazing. The steering turns with precision not seen an many other cars. Brake pedal feel is excellent (notice Honda). Clutch weight is supreme and gear changing is comfortable. I still prefer my 2011 Mazda3 gearbox in terms of shifting feel. Mazda6 has little bit of clunk between 1st and 2nd but after that it is smooth. But again, the older one was a bit tidier. I loved suspension in '3 so this one I love even more because there is additional upscale added to great old suspension. This car does feel smaller than it is when driving, however not the same nimbleness as ?3. There is also one cool thing that many people don?t like ? hill assist. I personally never needed it. But I understand that this is consequence of electronic parking brake. The hill assist works great. On one side, I might wouldn?t mind to have it even with a hand brake. It definitely makes life easier. But on the other side, the very reason I buy a manual car without electronic nannies is because I want to do everything myself. Another thing is that if the battery dies and brake is engaged, you?re doomed. On top of this you get push button start. Together you can forget starting this car with dead battery by rolling off the hill. And I had to do it 3 or 4 times in the last 8 years. This is definitely negative for me.
The interior is another big positive for Mazda. I took lowest Sport trim simply because I hate leather and I really don't need all the extra features that come with higher trims, especially 19" wheels. And for low trim, this is generous from Mazda. Stitched dash. Nice instrumentation cluster (Honda... Honda). Everything lights at night. Plenty of power outlets and USB ports. Seats are comfy and when did you see last time base trim with lumbar support? Ok, Accord is so big, you seat like a king in the rear. But in '6 there is plenty of legroom. You just don't have enormous amount of it. One important detail for MT drivers is location of the stick. In Accord it is hard to reach while '6 is made for a driver. The controller knob is cool feature. I don't necessarily think it is absolutely better than just radio buttons on the dash. I see where it goes - it packs more buttons within same screen. But it is such distraction on the road. Now I want to see song info and mileage info, and I constantly toggle it... I like the instrumentation with analog tach and speedo and at least they made electronic fuel and temp gauges that mimic analog. Leather steering wheel is standard and sure it feels better than plastic I used to. Basically, I like the interior for the low trim it is amazing.
And here I can tell you that I really didn't want this car. I was looking for something more fun. But I couldn't resist the discounts. If I think that I paid for it only $2K more for what I paid in 2010 for pretty low trim Mazda3. And this car has many more features... I paid $18K for it. Yes, the insurance is more expensive. But replacing 17" tires will compensate for it. Because Accord I shopped had 19-inchers. I know that this is quality car with great handling, and I just couldn't pass it on the price point. Many people complain about shady Mazda dealers. I had best experience. My sales guy knew car in detail. Usually I know more about car than a sales person. I would ask something and listen. They either wrong or have no idea. This dude was on top of everything. Then I was not sure if I want to commit to this car, I said, ?I will come back. Let me process the info and think again.? The manager asked me ?what can I do so you take this car today?? A-ha! I quickly drew few numbers, he didn?t even tried go higher, signed on it and congratulated me with purchase.