Given Mazda's conservative spending it makes no sense to spend valuable r&d on snake oil. They never said it would increase fuel economy dramatically. Also IMO the parasitic loss from a tranditional alternator has some besring in engine responsiveness and go. I specifically test drove a 6 with and without i-eloop. I asked the dealer not to tell me which was which. The i-eloop felt a little more responsive to my seat of the pants measure. Fwiw
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The snake oil was mostly a sarcastic thing, I need a sarcasma serif font.....
Mazda claimed a 2 mpg boost for the iELOOP equipped 2016 Mazda6's(28/40, up from 26/38). They also changed the final drive ratio to a lower numerical value(taller gears) for the iELOOP equipped vehicles, which should increase fuel economy as well(lower engine speed for same mph). The combination of the two netted a claimed 2 mpg.
Now, for 2017 Mazda rates the iELOOP Mazda6 at 27/35 vs 26/35 for non-iELOOP. Weight went up to 3305 from 3250(brochure weight), no other significant changes. I know the EPA testing criteria was changed, but the iELOOP just does not seem to be a significant contributor to better mileage.
As for your seat of the pants measure, we all know that is very subjective. Were both of the cars you test drove GT package? On paper, the iELOOP with the taller gears and more weight from the additional components should feel slower.
I still really enjoy my car, I would have bought it at 35mpg. I wanted the top of the line, fullest loaded one I could get. Fuel mileage was not even top 3 when it came to my decision.