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Mazda 6 does diesel

New to these shores, that is. Oilers have been part of the European 6 line-up since 2002 - a la the taxi we caught in Dresden a couple of years ago.

That, though, was the pre-mid-life facelift model. Those about to go on sale locally pack more power, torque and boast a sixth cog.

Mazda says both the six-speed manual hatch and wagon can consume as little as 5.9 litres per 100km, and can travel 1250km on their 64-litre tanks.

The engine in question - 2.0-litre, common-rail turbo with direct injection - meets Euro Stage IV emission standards in producing a class-leading 360Nm and 105kW.

Its gets the hatchback to 100km/h from standing in a claimed 9.5 seconds.

The $35,205 wagon comes with climate-control air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer and a six-stack CD with wheel-mounted audio and cruise-control switches.

At $38,090, the hatch is similarly specified to Luxury versions of the petrol Mazda6, including leather, aBose sound system and a power-operated driver's seat with three-position memory.

Active and passive safety measures are as they're found in the well-regarded range of 2.3-litre petrol cars.

The diesel engine is mated to the same three-shaft gearbox that was first used in the Mazda 6 MPS.

Both models ride on double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension that has slightly firmer spring rates compared with the already fine-handling petrol models.

If the first Japanese diesel passenger car is an historical gambit, it’s also just a bit token. With no auto option - as opposed to the three trabnsmission chocies on Volkswagen's diesels - Mazda expect to sell only 50 oilers.

Paul Pottinger is a senior roadtester on the CARSguide team, and also editor of the Sunday Telegraph CARSguide. More news, reviews and analysis from Paul can be seen in the Sunday Telegraph.