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Mazda 6 Touring sedan 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Improvements to the perennial Mazda staple are both hidden and conspicuous. There is more to the update of the Mazda6 than expected. As with other recent arrivals from Japan, it's the hidden stuff that's as important as the headline changes in the 2016 model. You can see it, touch it and feel it as you drive. It's not

Improvements to the perennial Mazda staple are both hidden and conspicuous.

There is more to the update of the Mazda6 than expected. As with other recent arrivals from Japan, it's the hidden stuff that's as important as the headline changes in the 2016 model.

You can see it, touch it and feel it as you drive. It's not a huge change but a genuinely worthwhile improvement for a car that's always been near the front of the mid-size pack.

Australians may be infatuated with SUVs but the competition in the family-car class is tougher than ever, with brilliant value in the locally made Toyota Camry, more of everything in the latest Subaru Liberty, and even Honda getting smarter by dropping its underwhelming Accord Sport Hybrid.

Mazda has done impressive work on engine and gearbox efficiency through its Skyactiv innovations.

Mazda Australia says the 6 is the country's most-popular mid-size import under $60,000. It is outsold only by the built-in-Melbourne Camry and the $60,000-plus Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Moving along, the official line on the Mazda6 is all about improved safety, not only the passive crash-barrier protection but also the active gear to help you avoid a crash in the first place.

Beyond the safety strides, Mazda has done impressive work on engine and gearbox efficiency through its Skyactiv innovations.

The safety change is a trickle-down of what it calls iActivesense from the flagship Atenza to the Sport, Touring and GT models without any price rise. Mazda actually claims it as a saving of $1200, although that's not strictly true except for the Atenza which gets a genuine cut up to $1380 to maintain its position above the GT.

Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, smart city-brake support and auto-dipping mirror are now standard on every Mazda6. The Touring and GT add a reversing function in the city braking.

So the entire improved Mazda6 line-up is a little safer and available for less than $50,000 before on-roads.

On the road

The updated Mazda6 — safety gear apart — is surprisingly good. The Touring sedan that arrives for The Tick testing is well-equipped and finished and drives well.

It doesn't feel as sporty as some of the Camry rivals or the Ford Mondeo, or as roomy as a Volkswagen Passat. Compared with the Honda Accord or even the Subaru Liberty it feels substantial and classy.

The electric parking brake shows Mazda has been finessing the hidden details in the car.

The 6 reminds me almost immediately about its extra safety when the blind-spot light in the driver's side mirror flashes and I get a warning beep. It feels comforting, in common with other models with visual reminders of the right time to change lanes.

Thankfully, I don't get to trial the smart city-brake support, either front or rear, although I know it will alert me in the back and add brake pressure if it senses a potential crash ahead.

So I'm able to relax and enjoy the car, which is noticeably quieter and more refined than I remember from my last run in a Mazda6.

It's a reflection of the improved plastics and upgraded soundproofing that Japanese makers fit these days, now that the cost-cutting hangover has cleared, post global financial crisis.

It took the arrival of the Skyactiv engines to truly win me to non-rotary Mazdas, which had always been a bit too harsh for my liking.

The smoothness of the latest 2.5-litre four is something to enjoy. The stop-start fuel-saving tech works well, there is good mid-range torque of 250Nm and, at the top end, there are 138kW for overtaking. The six-speed auto is smooth and efficient.

The car is not particularly quick against the stopwatch but in the class that's not important.

It has a worthwhile tow rating but some people will be disappointed that the spare wheel is only a space-saver.

On the ride-and-handling front, the Mazda6 has good grip and the ride is firm-ish but still comfortable.

In the cabin, I like the seven-inch touchscreen and the punch of the audio. The electric parking brake shows Mazda has been finessing the hidden details in the car.

Verdict

It's always good to come back to a car you like and discover genuine improvements. Especially when, thanks the exchange rate, there is no price increase.

Do you think the Mazda6's safety and interior improvements puts it ahead of its rivals in the class? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Mazda 6 pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$25,990
Based on 61 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$18,977
Highest Price
$34,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Atenza 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $24,990 – 34,888 2016 Mazda 6 2016 Atenza Pricing and Specs
GT 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $22,934 – 31,850 2016 Mazda 6 2016 GT Pricing and Specs
GT Safety 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $26,510 – 32,780 2016 Mazda 6 2016 GT Safety Pricing and Specs
Sport 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,977 – 26,990 2016 Mazda 6 2016 Sport Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$20,000

Lowest price, based on 9 car listings in the last 6 months

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