The 2014 Mazda6.

The 2014 Mazda6.

Much has been made of the new sheet metal that decorates the redesigned Mazda6. The 2014 edition sports enormous front fenders, swooping lines and stylish new front and rear ends, all part of Mazda’s new “Stylish, Insightful, and Spirited” design concept.

The new look is way overdue. Since it succeeded the 626 in 2002, the Mazda6’s claim to fame in the mid-size sedan category has been its performance and handling. Until now, it didn’t look any more like a racecar than the class-leading Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Both of those cars have received sleek new redesigns in the past couple years, as have the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima. But none underwent a more radical transformation than the “6,” and Mazda is counting on the new look to steal attention from its competitors.

The specs of the 2014 Mazda6.

The specs of the 2014 Mazda6.

Under the hood, every Mazda6 is powered by a 2.5-liter inline four that delivers 184 horsepower at 185 pound-feet of torque. The outgoing base engine delivered less power but could be swapped for a 3.7-liter V-6. The bad news is that the V-6 is no longer available. The good news is that the new engine is good for up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway.

But that’s not all. After months of speculation, Mazda has confirmed that it will offer the same 2.2-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel that powers the European version to North American buyers. Specs are not yet available, but the most powerful overseas model delivers 173 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

The interior has a new layout and upgraded materials and controls. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is slightly smaller and loaded with buttons. The seats are plushier, but the prior generation’s ample rear legroom and large trunk remain intact.

The Mazda6 is available in i Sport, i Touring and i Grand Touring editions. The base model includes power locks and windows, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and six-speaker audio. The Touring edition adds a power driver’s seat, leatherette upholstery, a rearview camera, optional navigation and more. The Luxury model includes navigation as well as high-class items such as satellite radio with 11 speakers, leather seats and a sunroof.

The gasoline-powered Mazda6 is available now and starts at $20,880. The diesel edition is scheduled to reach our shores in the second half of 2013.

Originally posted on Business Fleet