Mazda6 Luxury Sports hatch 2010 review
A generation ago, the Mazda 6 would be a large car and we'd load it to the gunwales with luggage and head out on motoring holidays.
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The Maxima – which shares its underpinnings with Murano — has been given a second engine choice, a sharper set of clothes, an upgraded features list and a leaner pricetag.
The new car - now sourced from Thailand - is between 5mm and 15mm longer (depending on model spec), 30mm wider overall (track width is up a similar amount), 15mm taller but sits on an identical 2775mm wheelbase.
The tare weight has also remained close to the outgoing model, with Ti gaining just over 30kg.
Nissan says the new car - on sale from June 1 - has been made using more ultra-high strength steel, which has helped the engineers increase torsional rigidity by 40 per cent.
The entry-level ST-L is offered at $33,990 and only with the new 2.5-litre version of the familiar V6 and the continuously-variable transmission.
The 2.5-litre V6 produces 134kW at 6000rpm, with 228Nm of torque peaking at 4400rpm, with the claimed fuel consumption figure of 9.5 litres per 100km.
The 3.5-litre V6 has had a 15kW increase to 185kW at 6000rpm, with torque dropping by seven Nm to 326Nm at 4400rpm (up from the old torque peak of 2800rpm), with only a slight increase in fuel use to 10.2 litres per 100km.
The standard fare includes leather, dual-zone climate control, dual front, side and full-length curtain airbags, power-adjustable front seats, a six-CD six-speaker sound system, 17in alloy wheels, xenon headlights, six airbags and stability control, but no split-fold rear seats.
The larger V6 is available in the $37,990 ST-S and $46,990 Ti models.
The ST-S sports model adds a rear decklid spoiler, the intelligent ignition key, rear parking sensors and heated front seats above the entry-level features list.
The range-topping Ti has gained $6000 in price for the equipment list that adds a sunroof, position memory for the electric seats, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, a reversing camera and a DVD-capable 11-speaker Bose surround sound system.
The sales breakdown is expected to be 60 per cent of buyers opting for the 350 models and Nissan is aiming to reduce the Maxima buyer's average owner age from mid-50s to below 50.
The lolling, wallowy Maxima is a distant memory.
The new car quickly displays an adherence to both sides of the ride and handling duties of a suspension system.
There's still a skew towards ride comfort but no longer is it a bouevarde ride tune that would satisfy plump U.S. rumps.
The steering is light and won't top the medium-large brigade's "steering feel" list but touring along Victorian country roads the Maxima felt composed and comfortable.
Looking sharper with the swept-back standard xenon headlights and LED taillights, the new Nissan flagship has a more prominent shoulder line and looks good in the metal, without being stunning.
Nissan is aiming to lower its average owner age below 50 but the new sedan failed the bustop test on the launch, with none of the dozen or so school students giving the new sedan a glance.
Which is a shame, because the new car has plenty about it worth liking, leading off with the V6 powerplants.
The smaller V6 is smooth and spins up quickly through the rev range, although the midrange punch is a little less intense than that offered by the larger engine.
Both engines claim to have more than 80 per cent of peak torque on offer from 1600rpm, but the larger V6 remains the more impressive unit.
While the Maxima now has two engines, the transmission remains a continuously-variable unit, which has a manual change six-speed mode - both V6 engines work well with the unit but the extra 98Nm of the 3.5-litre helps keep the CVT calmer.
The leather-trimmed cabin is standard range-wide and is very quiet and comfortable, with ample room for four adults - even at 190-plus cm there was enough rear headroom in a non-sunroof model.
The dashboard's centre screen and the instrumentation suffer a little from sun glare; the former has lost the cowling of the previous model, which means the screen is nigh impossible to see when the sun enters from some angles.
The new Maxima models could do with a little more differentiation but as a driving package there's been plenty of improvement, making it worthy of inclusion on a medium-car shopping list.
|250 ST-L||2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$8,995 – 10,980||2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 250 ST-L Pricing and Specs|
|350 ST-S||3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$8,990 – 9,990||2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 350 ST-S Pricing and Specs|
|350 Ti||3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$9,300 – 11,990||2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 350 Ti Pricing and Specs|
|ST-L||3.5L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$6,160 – 8,690||2009 Nissan Maxima 2009 ST-L Pricing and Specs|
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