CHATHAM, Mass. – The safety features and driver assists are so well integrated in the 2019 Mazda6 Signature that the slick four-door sedan retains all the fun, all the “zoom, zoom” upon which the company built its name in this market.
All iterations of the Mazda6 come standard with i-ACTIVESENSE, a comprehensive suite of safety features and driver assist systems which combine with the responsive 227-horsepower/310-pounds-feet of torque 2.5-liter turbocharged engine to provide spirited driving safely (and, despite the fun factor in a five-passenger sedan, returns fuel economy of 21/26/31 in city/combined/highway driving). This motive power is transmitted to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission which can be manually shifted via the (now common) steering-wheel mounted shift paddles.
The i-ACTIVESENSE systems occupy 125 pages in the owner’s manual, while the car’s other safety systems (airbags, child restraints, etc.) makeup another 72 – these folks are serious about ADAS (Advance Driver Assist Systems) and safety, both active and passive.
A forward-sensing camera (FSC) and radar sensors in the front grill and both rear side panels combine to enable many of these systems to function.
The forward-sensing camera determines the conditions ahead of the vehicle and detects traffic lanes. The distance in which the FSC can detect objects varies depending upon the surrounding conditions.
The FSC – mounted on the windshield behind interior rear-view mirror – is integral with the operation of:
- Automatic high beam control
- Lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning system
- Traffic-sign recognition (which appear in the heads-up display, which also shows turn-by-turn navigation directions; following-vehicle distance; vehicles in the left/right blind spots; vehicle speed, and road speed limit)
- Advanced smart city brake support (ASCB)
- Mazda radar cruise control (MRCC)
- Smart brake support (SBS)
The front radar sensor mounted in the center of the grill works with the FSC for:
- Smart-brake support
In addition, it plays the pivotal role in the distance recognition support system (DRSS) which monitors the distance between the Mazda6 and objects in its path. These objects can be either pedestrians or vehicles (and the system discerns the difference).
The rear radar sensors live in the right and left fenders and provide the information which activates:
- Blind-sport monitor (BSM)
- Rear cross-traffic alert
Some of these systems alert the driver to a potential issue, like weaving out of your lane, which then requires driver response. Others can trigger the vehicle’s systems, often the automatic emergency braking (AEB) system, to step in and save the day.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
Mazda’s automatic emergency braking systems are split into two types: Smart Brake Support and Smart City Brake Support (SCBS). The difference between the two is that Smart Brake Support can minimize or prevent collisions at speeds of 10 mph or faster by automatically applying the brakes if necessary. Smart City Brake Support is similar, except that it is designed for speeds from two to 18 mph.
When driving from approximately two to 18 miles per hour, the laser sensor mounted at the top of the front windshield glass detects a vehicle or obstacle (which can be pedestrians) in front of the car and reduces brake rotor travel to quicken braking when the system calculates that there is a risk of a collision occurring. Next, if the driver fails to perform any avoidance maneuver such as applying the brake, an automatic braking operation is activated. When the speed difference between the driver’s car and the vehicle in front is less than 18 mph, the system is designed to avoid, or mitigate the damage from a collision.
In addition to the braking action, the system includes automatic transmission acceleration control. If a driver accelerates when an obstacle in front has been detected by the SCBS’ laser sensor, the system alerts the driver with an alarm sound and an indicator. At the same time, engine output is curbed to stop unintended acceleration.
Bigger brakes added to 2019 models
For 2019, the Mazda6 Signature gets larger front ventilated discs, 12.6 inches versus last year’s 11.7, backed by ABS and operating within 19-inch alloy wheels shod with low-profile P225x45R19 tires.
Putting these to work is the fully independent (MacPherson type struts up front; multi-link in the rear) SKYACTIV chassis which includes front and rear stabilizer bars; ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and brake assist; traction control; hill-launch assist; dynamic stability control, and G-Vectoring control plus (GVC Plus).
GVC Plus, which also uses the Mazda6’s brakes, is another aid to improve handling. As the driver steers out of a corner by returning the steering wheel to the center position, GVC Plus applies a light braking force to the outer wheels, providing a stabilizing moment that helps restore the vehicle to straight line running.
These are just some of the features providing the secure, confident feeling which translates into driving fun.
Luxury touches abound inside
And, once inside the tight, comfy cabin (which takes a bit of attention to avoid banging against the roof or end of the dash), the Signature version provides all of today’s premium and luxury features.
Heated and ventilated seats positioned electrically for both passenger and driver (and the rear are heated as well) provide support without compromising comfort. And dual automatic climate control further allows each front-seat occupant to tailor their environment to their individual taste.
Rising from the top center of the dash is an eight-inch color monitor displaying the AM/FM/satellite radio entertainment system which can be augmented by either Apple Car Play or Android Auto, all controlled by a multi-function large dial in the center console, just ahead of the cup holders. In addition to the dial, Mazda includes buttons to quickly bring up the navigation or radio or the audio-favorites screens.
The display is also the monitor for the various vehicle cameras which can show a variety of angles front or rear or 360 degrees.
We’ve just scratched the surface of all the features standard in the Mazda6 Signature (no options; all features included) which carries a suggested retail price of $35,100 – a lot of car for the money. Many of the models attributes, without some of the more luxurious (but all the safety ones) touches can be found in all Mazda6 versions which range from the Sport ($23,800) to the Touring ($26,400) to the Grand Touring ($29,500) and Grand Touring Reserve ($32,000).
The Mazda6 might not have the reputation of sport sedans like the BMW 3 Series, but in daily driving on the diversified roads of New England, it feels sporting, tight and very responsive.