Nearly 8 months into our loan, we decided it was time to take our Mazda6 to a place where few midsize sedans dare tread: The racetrack. Of course, we're well aware of the fact that the overwhelming majority of midsize sedan buyers have little to no interest in such an activity, but dragging a vehicle outside its comfort zone often has its benefits, and the Mazda6 showed us why it deserves to be regarded as the sportiest offering in its class. 

Track time

Thanks to what is undoubtedly the sharpest and most responsive steering this side of dedicated sports cars, our 2014 Mazda6 felt surprisingly at home on the Willow Springs 2.5-mile road course. The brakes weathered a barrage of calls to action from triple-digit speeds, and the standard tires held up well considering the countless laps of wide-open driving and scorching track temperatures. And while the 6's 184 horsepower, 4-cylinder engine is no standout in the thrills department, its linear power delivery and easy-going nature made for predictable acceleration across the entire rpm range. All told, our Mazda6 made mincemeat out of performance stalwarts like C6 Corvettes and BMW M3s - and we have the video footage to prove it. 

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Equally at home on the road

Bookending our track time was approximately four hours of highway driving between our headquarters in Irvine, CA and Rosamond, CA. Besides a fair amount of wind noise at speeds above 60 mph, the Mazda6's driving dynamics proved equally competent on open roads. Bumps, ruts, and potholes were dispatched with near-total disdain, and the taught-yet-compliant suspension afforded just the right amount of body lean without compromising composure during spirited jaunts. 

Looking at the competitive landscape, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord offer a significantly more powerful V6 engine, but the Mazda6's well-rounded performance preserves its standing as the undisputed king of fun-to-drive in the midsize sedan segment.    

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