Could the diesel engine be about to go mainstream? It’s been years since any non-German automaker has had any kind of success with Rudolf Diesel’s invention, but vehicles like the Chevy Cruze, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mazda Mazda6 will soon join the club, with that latter entry already making a name for itself in Grand-Am Road Racing. In fact, a 2014 Mazda Mazda6 racecar—motivated by one of the company’s SKYACTIV-D diesel engines—just claimed its first Grand-Am checkered flag in the “Visual Studio Ultimate Grand Prix of Atlanta,” held at the famed Road Atlanta circuit as part of the 2013 Rolex sports car Series.
The hard-fought victory came in just the fourth event of the season—and of the Mazda6 diesel’s racing career—and saw the No. 00 car driven by Joel Miller and Andrew Carbonell outduel a Porsche Cayman to win the GX class by just 1.173 seconds. Also, joining that pair on the podium were Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long, who drove their Mazda Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D racer to a third-place finish.
"The new Mazda6 prepared by SpeedSource ran perfectly. The torque of the SKYACTIV-D pulled up the elevation changes around the Road Atlanta circuit strongly and the Mazda6 handled beautifully,” reported Miller. “I'm proud to be racing the Mazda6 and to be a part of Mazda history in gaining the first SKYACTIV Technology victory."
At this stage in the season, Long and Tremblay are tied for second in the driver points standings, while Miller’s win helped him move up to third; the MazdaSpeed/Speedsource crew holds a similar position in the race for the team championship, and Mazda trails only Porsche in the chase for the manufacturer’s title.
And while the diesel variant of the 2014 Mazda Mazda6 won’t reach dealerships until this summer, the gasoline-powered model is on sale now and is developing a pretty fair winning record of its own … .
Checking in with the 2014 Mazda Mazda6
The all-new 2014 Mazda Mazda6 debuted in January with a full SKYACTIV-G powertrain, 184 hp and 185 lb.-ft. of torque, and EPA ratings of up to 26 mpg city/38 mpg highway/30 mpg combined. And it's all for a price tag that starts at $20,880. Also wrapped in dramatically styled sheet metal, the result is a strong value that has seen sales rise right in lockstep with dealership availability.
Customers aren’t the only ones who have noticed, however. Already this year, the 2014 Mazda Mazda6 has been named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), honored as one of three finalists for the World Car Design of the Year Awards, and chosen as the Best New Vehicle at the Atlanta International Auto Show. Most recently, the car added to its trophy case by earning a spot on the 2013 roster of the 10 Best Interiors in the auto industry, presented annually by Ward’sAuto World.
Said Ward’s: “[T]here was little argument that the new third-generation Mazda6 midsize sedan belongs on this year’s list because of its excellent infotainment system, creative touches, flowing lines, attention to detail and a starting price below $21,000.”
"The automotive industry, regardless of segment, is extremely competitive," added Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). "From engineering to design, auto makers are feverishly working toward finding the perfect combination of class-best numbers and emotional connections that captivates consumers wholeheartedly. And we've done that with the Mazda6, a vehicle that goes beyond the expectations of its segment."