Just a few days ago, we took delivery of a 2018 Mazda6 Signature with the new 2.5 turbo engine. We were pretty excited since we already adore the naturally-aspirated version despite its need for more power. After driving it for a little while, we can see that the seemingly small changes collectively have a huge impact. The one downsidde is that although the bigger engine is a marvel, it could use two more driven wheels.

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There isn't a family sedan in existence that looks this good. (image: Mazda)

First things first. The turbocharged engine ups the power from a somewhat mediocre 184 horsepower to healthy 227. On premium fuel, you get even more bang to the tune of 250 horses and a whopping 310 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. The Skyactiv-G 2.5 engine, which delivers almost instant boost from its Dynamic Pressure Turbocharger. It uses valves that keep exhaust manifold pressures high and later opens a second valve for better breathing under hard acceleration. The power is just right for the sporty sedan, and you can now exploit more of its handling capabilities as a result. 

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Check out that fat turbocharger poking out of the side of the engine. More. Power. Good. (image: CNET)

The problem is we got on the throttle pretty aggressively more than a few times and incited wheelspin every time. The 225/19 tires are wide but not wide enough to keep them putting the power down to the pavement. What it needs is the all-wheel drive system it was rumored to get somewhere down the line.

The problem is that nothing is certain. There was some hint earlier this year that the 6 might get all-wheel drive, and then those rumors were shot down. At release, no such option existed, but it's still not off the table, and that's definitely good news. Mazda's Jacob Brown hinted that it's still very much a possibility. 

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The last interior was great. This one is almost epic.  (image: Mazda)

"We have no plans to introduce [all-wheel drive] in the U.S. at this time for Mazda6, but we will continue to study introducing features that customers value, as our CEO has stated in some interviews." What the change would effectively provide is four-season traction and with torque vectoring and the new engine, it would make the most of the engine's output on the straightaways and in the curves. What's great could become truly excellent.

It's a pretty big deal what Mazda has done to the 6. Though it hasn't been totally restyled, the refresh is significant. The exterior is more aggressive with the larger mesh grille and tweaked fascias. The interior is even more dramatically updated with new door handles that extend beautifully from the door trim, Nappa leather seats in the Signature, Japanese Sen wood, and rich ultrasuede trim in the Signature model. 

There's also a high-res head-up display with traffic sign recognition, ventilated seats, 360-degree camera, a gunmetal grille, and a brand new gauge cluster that uses an LCD display for the speedometer and analog for flanking gauges. All in all, the loaded 6 is the total package, and now it's the best its ever been. Fast, comfortable, sophisticated, and incredibly well-built. All it needs now is that all-wheel drive system. 

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