Adding a turbo to the 2018 Mazda6 is surprisingly affordable

Mazda has priced up the 2018 Mazda6, with its handsome midsize sedan packing a turbocharged engine option for the first time. Unveiled at the LA Auto Show last November, the new Mazda6 keeps the classic styling of the old model, but throws in higher-quality materials and more tech for the cabin, as well as a brand new drivetrain under the hood.

The standard engine is still the naturally-aspirated SKYACTIV-G 2.5, good for 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Happily Mazda is still offering it with the six-speed manual transmission, too – a welcome choice in a segment dominated by automatics – though there's a six-speed auto with Sport Mode for those who'd prefer it. Pricing kicks off at $21,950 for the Mazda6 Sport manual, and $23,000 for the auto version.

A $625 Sport i-ACTIVESENSE Package, available only on the automatic Mazda6 Sport, throws in extra safety tech. That includes smart brake support, lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keep assistance. It also includes automatic headlamps and rain-sensing wipers.

The same engine is used in the 2018 Mazda6 Touring, though with the six-speed automatic as standard. It keeps the Sport's dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, touchscreen, 8-inch dashboard display with reversing camera, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross-Traffic alert, along with the LED lamps front and back. However, it upgrades the wheels from 17- to 19-inches, throws in leatherette seats rather than cloth, adds rear HVAC vents and heated front seats, and a power moonroof. It's priced from $25,700.

Where things get interesting, though, is in the 2018 Mazda6 Grand Touring. That's where the SKYACTIV-G 2.5T engine appears, borrowed from the CX-9 SUV, with 250 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 rpm. It's paired with a six-speed automatic as standard, and uses one turbocharger with two clever valves.

Mazda calls it a Dynamic Pressure Turbocharger, and it cuts turbo lag from low engine speeds. Initially, there's a small valve which helps create high boost pressure – Mazda likens it to holding your thumb over the end of a water hose – but, as the engine gets up to speed, a secondary valve opens. That allows more air through the turbo, for maximum performance.

The Grand Touring trim also gets an 11-speaker Bose Premium audio upgrade with SiriusXM, navigation, auto-dimming for the side and rear view mirror, heated side mirrors, and paddle-shifters. It's priced from $29,200. The 2018 Mazda6 Grand Touring Reserve adds in black or parchment leather trim, a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, power front seats (8-way for the driver, and 6-way for the passenger), adaptive front lighting, bright silver allows, a rear lip spoiler, and de-icing for the windshield wipers.

It also includes heated seats in the rear and a heated steering wheel. Those in the front get ventilated seats in the Grand Touring Reserve, too. It's priced from $31,700.

Finally, there's the $34,750 Mazda6 Signature. That's the automaker's attempt to nudge the sedan into the premium segment above, following in the tread-marks of the CX-9 Signature. It comes with parchment or deep chestnut Nappa leather, Japanese Sen wood interior trim, and gilded UltraSuede.

Tech upgrades include a 360-degree camera system, parking sensors both front and rear, a 7-inch digital display for the driver, frameless rearview mirror, and – just so people outside know you coughed up the extra cash – a gunmetal finish to the front grille. Like the rest of the 2018 Mazda6 range, it'll go on sale in April.