The new Mazda6 is bigger than the model it replaces and has excellent head-turning styling. From its deep air-gulping winged radiator grille, through a long low-set bonnet and coupe-like curved roof to a shapely rear, the mid-size model has the street presence of many European luxury sports sedans three times the price.
Moving the A-pillar 100mm backwards not only adds to the style, but also gives the driver a wider field of view. Nothing is cramped. At 2830 mm, the sedan wheelbase is among the longest in the segment resulting in substantial legroom in the rear, while access to 438 litres of luggage space is made easy by a larger boot opening than before.
PRICING AND FEATURES
The all-new Mazda6 comes in four variants, Sport, Touring (station wagon), GT and Atenza, with prices starting at $33,460, plus on-road costs. The driver is well catered for with the ergonomic Human-Machine Interface putting him or her in touch with vehicle operations via a knob on the centre console. Other features include an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat and tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel movement.
A 3.5-inch multi-information display in the main instrument cluster presents the driver with clear and concise information on such things as fuel consumption, while a 5.8-inch touchscreen atop the centre stack projects infotainment including satellite navigation and reversing camera view with guidelines.
Connections to the outside world come via iPod, USB and Bluetooth hands-free mobile connectivity with voice recognition. A new mail function for Bluetooth connected smart phones enables display and readout of SMS, MMS and email via the 5.8-inch touchscreen.
ENGINES AND TRANSMISSION
Powertrains include a 2.2-litre diesel or a 2.5-litre petrol, both making use of Mazda’s interesting SkyActiv technology. The engines are both mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. Our road test car, a Mazda6 Sport, was powered by the petrol engine. Putting out 138kW of power at 5700rpm and 250Nm of torque at 3250 revs it has the sedan rushing to 100km/h from rest in 8.2 seconds.
TECHNOLOGY AND ECONOMY
Both engines come standard with i-Eloop, Mazda’s new brake energy regeneration system as well as i-stop, its advanced stop/start unit. The ground-breaking i-Eloop makes use of a capacitor rather than a battery to quickly capture and temporarily store electricity to power components such as the climate control and audio.
Any surplus electricity in the capacitor, which can be charged repeatedly without major deterioration, goes to the battery. A further advantage can be gained in connection with i-stop during stop-go city driving when charging often resumes before the capacitor is fully discharged. Thus the majority of the vehicle’s electricity requirements can be supplied by i-Eloop without calling on any of the engine’s output to drive the alternator. Fuel savings result.
Mazda suggests combined urban/highway petrol usage of 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres. We managed between nine and ten litres per hundred around town and in the low to mid fives on the motorway.
Ubiquitous safety aids such as a rigid passenger cell with pre-programmed deformation, ABS anti-skid braking with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control and traction control are standard.
Ride comfort is good on all but the roughest of Australian backroads and even corrugated dirt doesn’t upset the Mazda6 overmuch. Handling is competent and the steering has a good amount of feedback, but this Mazda is not exactly aimed at the sporting driver – however the chassis dynamics are likely to be exactly what the typical owner is looking for.
The SkyActiv chassis picks up on what the driver is after in terms of accelerating, turning and stopping, while rear suspension grip has been improved over the previous model.
Braking distances have been trimmed and disc cooling boosted, steering is sensitive to driving conditions and the ride is comfortable and relatively quiet at all speeds on all but the coarsest road surface.
The automatic transmission works well and has a pseudo-manual mode with shifts via the gear lever or steering wheel-mounted paddles. It works so well in full auto that we feel the majority of owners will never use anything else.
Quality in every aspect -- Mazda is on another winner.
Mazda6 Sport 2.5-litre petrol four-door sedan: from $33,460 (automatic)
Mazda6 GT 2.5-litre petrol four-door sedan: from $43,220 (automatic)
Mazda6 Atenza 2.5-litre petrol four-door sedan: from $46,810 (automatic)
Mazda6 GT 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan: from $46,070 (automatic)
Mazda6 Atenza 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-door sedan: from $49,660 (automatic)
Price: from $33,460
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, 138 kW/250 Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 1462kg
Cargo capacity: 438 litres
Towing capacity: 550kg (unbraked); 1500kg (braked)
Fuel tank capacity: 62 litres
Turning circle (kerb to kerb): 11.2 m
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 8.2 sec
Fuel consumption: 6.6L/100 km, CO2 153g/km
Wheels: Alloy 7.5J x 17in front and rear (Temporary steel spare, 185/55R16)