Mazda is not horsing around with its new Mazda6
For 2017 Mazda has made a host of driver-focused improvements to its sporty sedan that strictly adhere to its "horse and rider as one" design and development philosophy.
The Mazda6 is already one of the best vehicles in its class in terms of finding that balance between practicality and driver enjoyment. But rather than rest on its laurels, Mazda is making the sedan even more engaging for 2017.
When the new model goes on sale in September it will be the first Mazda available in the US to get something called G-Vectoring Control (GVC). The system actively monitors and in some cases controls the car's engine, transmission, the chassis set up and the body's movement so that everything feels sharper and more intuitive to the driver.
Rather than turn the sedan into an out-and-out sportscar, the idea behind GVC is to make everything more communicative and confidence inspiring. The driver understands and feels the car's behaviour and that gives him or her greater control or confidence, whether stuck in traffic or enjoying the turns and undulations of a mountain road.
Mazda calls this type of technology 'Jinba Ittai' - literally translated as "Horse and rider as one" and in recent years has become a bedrock of the company's design philosophy.
Jinba Ittai is why the new MX-5 Miata has a spring-loaded gear shift that "slots into place" when the driver selects a gear. The experience is meant to feel rewarding and accurate and is one of the tiny details that helped enormously when the car was voted World Car of the Year 2016 in April.
As well as a communicative driving experience, the new Mazda promises new levels of soundproofing. This has led the engineers to examine everything from panel gaps and door seals as well as simply adding insulation in order to cancel noise. Even the glass in the driver and front passenger doors is now thicker to deaden unwanted sounds.
The car retains its 184hp 2.5-litre engine for 2017 alongside a proper six-speed manual transmission - Mazda is one of the few companies to offer a manual transmission as the norm in this segment - although a six-speed automatic is also available, as is for the first time the choice of Nappa Leather trim on the seats.