2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring: Best of all Worlds

The automotive award world is a fickle creature. One year’s champion car is quickly parked off to the side while publications make room for the next year’s winner. Before names like Stingray and F-Pace, the number 6 had its day.

The Mazda 6 Grand Touring tackled more than its fair share of those awards a couple years ago after its grand re-design into of the automaker’s Kodo design language vehicles. A pleasure to drive and a better looking car than its price tag would indicate, any version of the Mazda 6 is special. The fully kitted out Grand Touring version all the more so.

The top of the Mazda 6 trim tree, the Grand Touring edition lists for $30,695. It holds the same 2.5 liter engine as the less expensive trims and offers the same 184 horsepower. However, the Grand Touring model maxes out the comfort and technology packages, including the top sound system, in-dash satnav, etc.

The styling of the Mazda 6 (and any Mazda, for that matter) is top notch and gives the similarly priced Asian makes like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Kia something to shoot for in their design studios. In fact, this reviewer maintains that the car looks better than its $30K price tag would indicate. It can sit alongside an Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW without shame.

As with other Mazdas, the driving experience is utterly enjoyable. While it doesn’t lay on the power or raw speed, there’s ample quickness out of its high compression, turbo-charged engine. The handling is tight and sensitive, if not sports car worthy. The end result is a vehicle that lets the driver feel the road and enjoy the sensation of driving, while the four-wheel independent suspension offers civilized comfort.

As close to a luxury vehicle as everyman Mazda comes, the 6 Grand Touring is a vehicle I recommend to anyone who comes to me asking about the best non-hatchback they can buy without venturing north of $30,000. I stand by that recommendation regardless of when the car returns to the award podium.

Heineken Brings ‘When You Drive Never Drink’ Campaign to F1 Italian Grand Prix

The relationship of adult beverage companies and professional racing can be a tricky one. The sight of the world’s fastest, most fearless drivers tearing up tracks marked with countless ads for whiskey or beer can seem to clash with the ever-present wisdom that alcohol and cars should not and do not mix.

Heineken challenged that notion head on with its “When You Drive Never Drink” campaign. On full display at last weekend’s Formula One Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the message used the massive publicity platform that is F1 to promote responsible enjoyment of Heineken’s product and a complete separation of the German beer and the steering wheel.

Heineken and Formula 1 announced their ant-drunk driving team-up last year. The two entities combined their extensive global reach to get out the simple, evergreen message that it’s essential, yet easy to not get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. The targeted campaign passing along this responsibility message used the great Sir Jackie Stewart as its ambassador. The three-time F1 champion and broadcasting legend led the charge against drunk driving at Monza.

In the days leading up to the Grand Prix, Stewart joined sports stars Dida, Max Verstappen and fellow Heineken ambassador David Coulthart took each other on in a sponsored go-kart race at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza ahead of the grand prix this weekend. The race saw five UEFA Champions League Legends take on five F1 drivers in support of the When You Drive Never Drink program with €25,000 being donated to an Italian road safety charity. The F1 Stars took the day.

On race day, the When You Drink Never Drive banners dominated the race track at Italy’s most passionate race fans rooted for a Ferrari win. The Mercedes-Benz team took both first and second with Lewis Hamilton beating back the Italian red horde to win.