The war of midsize family sedans is brutal, with combatants from the likes of Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan and GM upping their game year after year. Mazda’s departure from the Ford brand enabled it to embark on a new chapter in its quest for the section title. Though nothing was technically wrong with the 2012 Mazda6, it wasn’t the standout for which we’d hoped. The Mazda6, however, has made mincemeat of the competition through its combination of head-turning looks, a capacious cabin and the best driving dynamics in the challenging segment.
Introduced in 2013 as a 2014 model, the new Mazda6 moves toward a much more elegant but powerful aesthetic with the Kodo (Soul of Motion) design, first seen in the Shinari Concept at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. Its execution in the Mazda6 is nothing short of excellent. From tip to tail, the 6 is both fluid and muscular. Mazda’s chief designer, Akira Tamatani, expressed it best when he described the Mazda6 as a crouched animal ready to spring into action.
That design is backed by the kind of driving excitement worthy of a sports car. The 6 displays linear steering, progressive brake pedal feel and peppy acceleration via its 184 horsepower direct-inject 16-valve 2.5-liter SkyActiv gasoline engine. Mazda’s so committed to the driving experience that they offer their excellent Miata-inspired 6-speed manual transmission in two out of three trim levels.
The cabin is all about driving rather than distractions, and in an age of overwrought interiors the minimalist bent is more than welcome. There's a clean fluidity in both handsome seats that provide good bostering during spirited driving and a cockpit layout that lends to driver focus through triple gauges and great seating position. Room is aplenty for driver and passengers, and though this sporty sedan looks lean, its trunk space is positively voluminous. The 2014 Mazda6 seems to do quite a few things incredibly well, all the while betraying the family car look and providing an uncompromised driving experience.
Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope.
The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.
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