I nursed my 2000 Protege to the bitter end but spent the last year researching new cars. While I test drove other cars (the 2013 Accord was the best, nice and smooth but bland), I kept coming back to the 2014 6.
I drive stick and tested the Touring and Sport trims. In the end the options on the Touring weren't worth the extra $$$. The touchscreen was distracting, the 19" wheels looked good but didn't ride well on rough rural roads, etc. Of course I've never had most modern options, so I don't look to my car for infotainment stuff. The 6 Sport is a dream to drive, and that's good enough for me. And after incentives the price was barely over $20k, which is crazy low for this much car.
--Sport trim has the same engine and driving dynamics as the top-of-the-line GT. If you can do without bling, it's a fantastic value.
--Skyactiv is for real--it's fun to drive, has decent power and gets great mpg. I drive mostly highway and rural roads with some in-town miles thrown in, and I'm getting 34 avg mpg so far, about 500 miles between fillups.
--I got it in Meteor Gray, and I absolutely love how it looks.
--The interior room and comfort are terrific for a family of 4. I have a couple of older kids, and after the Protege it's like riding in a limo for them!
--The manual transmission is a treat, smooth and precise.
--OK, the dual zone climate controls, power driver seat adjustment and backup camera on the Touring would have been nice extras. Maybe on the next car.
--I can see how someone with a larger family and/or needing to haul more stuff might want better seating for a 5th person and more interior storage room.
--Sell more of them. Well, I'm torn. I want to see Mazda succeed because they build such good cars, but I do like having one of the very few new 6s in my area.