Unveiled early this morning at the Moscow motor show, the third generation Mazda 6 could prove as bracing a tonic as its forebear. Then, just as now, the Mazda6's segment was dominated by staidly middle class cardigan cars.
Now, just as in 2002, this sleek and boldly creased design might energise a segment known for technical excellence but visual narcolepsy. Chief designer Akira Tamatani blazes on in the typically heightened language of Mazda car shapers ("animalistic tenacity'', "predator crouched to strike'', "wild and dynamic'') but it's difficult to disgaree with him that "simply looking at the car heightens one's expectations about the driving experience''.
We're on fairly safe ground here, given the outgoing Mazda6 remains dynamically to the fore of its class, as close as its possible to get to the essence of the MX-5 in a front-wheel-drive family car. Then there's the Skyactiv engines and chassis from the best-selling CX-5, which is generally agreed as being the best-handling compact SUV to be had.
The new Mazda6 gets here early next year in sedan and wagon form, the lines of the former going some way to address the dissapointment that there'll be no hatch this time, always the best-selling shape in Australia. In the preliminary details released this morning, much is made of improved NVH levels, a bugbear of the previous cars, and such refinements as a new suspension and electric steering.
Other items in the fruit bowl include stop/start, highbeam control that uses a sensor to detect on-coming vehicles, hill launch assist, hazard light activating emergency stop assist and Rear Vehicle Monitoring that detects cars approaching from behind or driving in the blind spot on either side.
At 2.5-litres the newest petrol engine available is bigger than Skyactiv unit from the Mazda3 and CX-5 and puts out a 141kW/210Nm. No details are given for the turbo diesel, though there's no doubt this will be the formidable oiler from the CX-5, a 2.2-litre unit good for 129kW/420Nm.
With the cancellation of the bespoke US model (built to acommodate big American backsides) the Mazda6 has grown to just about big Aussie family car dimensions 4.8m long, 1.8 wide and almost a metre and a half high. But weights are kept down to a maximum 1410kg in the petrol models, so the promise of those svelte lines won't be encumbered by interior lard.