Mazda 6 VS Honda Accord
- Beautiful looks
- Lengthy standard features
- New turbo engine
- Touring doesn't offer turbo option
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Warranty looking a bit short
- Smooth V6
- Mostly excellent ride
- Plenty of gear
- Foot-operated parking brake
- High speed ride unsettled on sharp bumps
- Capped price servicing has a few too many asterisks
The Mazda6 used to be just about everywhere. A classic go-to kind of car, it has been a constant presence in Mazda's stable of passenger cars. Mazda's well-timed shift to SUVs a decade ago could have seen the eventual decline and demise of the classic mid-size sedan, but here we are in 2018 and it's still going strong.
The new Mazda6 isn't a ground-up redesign, it isn't a revolution that brings with it electric powertrains or funky hybrid additions or some wacky weight-saving technology. Instead, this new 6 echoes the approach the Japanese company took with its big-selling CX-5; detail changes, and lots of them.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Twenty-five years ago I was the only kid at church who read car magazines. Nobody was interested unless the subject was a Patrol, Pajero or HiLux (it was Sydney's Sutherland Shire) and even then, they only wanted to know if they could tow a tinnie with it.
Every now and again someone would approach me and ask me for advice on a car that wasn't a ute, and then buy a car we didn't even talk about. They would politely return my magazines, though, which was nice.
Anyway, the point of that story is that one of the cars one of these nice people bought was the Honda Legend. It was a lovely thing - so quiet, so smooth, so cool. Well, not cool in the hip to the groove sense, but in the easygoing Palm Springs kind of cool.
And the point of telling you that is it turns out that they still make that car, only it's not called the Legend anymore, it's called the Honda Accord V6L. Costs less, too.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The new 6 does exactly what's required, and that is to deliver a beautiful and refined car at a good price. The Mazda flagship is loaded with enough gear to give the Camry a run for its money, and it's hard to see why the 6 wouldn't be on your list.
Choosing a sweet spot of the range is tricky. The 2.5-litre Touring is well balanced when you consider value for money, but you can't help looking one step up to the turbo GT. That new engine really completes the transformation. So either hold out until Mazda relents and offers a turbo Touring, or live with the non-turbo 2.5.
I have always had a soft spot for the 6, but it required turning a blind eye to a range of deficiencies. Now they're pretty much gone, and I don't have to say, "But..." when asked about it. There must be thousands of changes in this new car and every single one of them has been an improvement.
What do you think? Can the 6 tempt you back out of an SUV or out of your current mid-size sedan?
The Legend is long gone but the Accord seems have taken up the mantle. When you compare it to its immediate and most obvious competition there's plenty of gear aboard, and while the other cars are good, none - except maybe the new Camry V6 - have the same appeal of cubic inches, tidy handling with a terrific ride and manners better than a June Dally-Watkins graduate.
While the engine and transmission may not be bang-up-to-date, and there's, uh, fake wood inside, the Accord V6L is a fine car that carries on a tradition of big, cushy Hondas.
The Accord is a classic nameplate in a shrinking - but still busy - segment. Is it on your list? Tell us in the comments below.
Mazda's Kodo exterior design is hugely successful, so a top-and-tail is enough to bring the car up to date without ruining a look that has made it famously pretty.
All the front panels forward of the doors are new, with a new bumper, headlights and a 3D grille. New 19-inch alloys on the GT and Atenza also help. The new bumper features a different front spoiler, the fog lights have moved into the LED headlight assembly and the indicators are now eyebrow-style LEDs along the top edge of the lights. The chrome (okay, plastic) grille outline is slimmer and wider, making the car look wider, but also sportier. Much of what you see came from Mazda's Vision Concept car from the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.
The rear has come in for similar treatment, with a new bootlid, bumper and bolder twin-exhaust treatment - the pipes have a bigger diameter and a more "sculpted" look.
Mazda tends to skip adding side skirts, a rear diffuser or rear wing, leaving the body kit work to the aftermarket brigade. The wagon does have a small rear spoiler over the rear window, though.
Interior photos photos show a new and lighter cabin, and you might be surprised to find that all that remains unchanged from the previous model are the steering wheel, some switches and the top of the gear selector. There wasn't a great deal wrong with the old one, but this new one seems even more coherent. The centre console is less cluttered, housing just the air-conditioning controls. Seat belt or airbag lights, for instance, are now in an overhead console which also features a sunglass holder.
The Accord's design has been with us for over four years now. It's one of Honda's more restrained efforts, with fewer mad lines, flourishes and creases than other models. That doesn't mean it isn't without some interesting details, though.
The headlights look great up close, with each unit looking like a set of teeth has been installed, giving the impression of a grille when illuminated. Its profile is fairly normal, and apart from a slightly heavy-handed rear end, the Accord's exterior is quietly elegant.
Inside, it's remains toned down. Instruments and switchgear will be familiar to owners of pretty much any car in the Honda range, with bits from here and there making up a simple, user-friendly cabin. Apart from the stacked screens.
The interior dimensions of the 6 are unchanged, but it has always been a roomy sort of place. Rear legroom is expansive but if you're 185cm, your head might brush the (new) headlining.
Boot space for the sedan starts at 474 litres (VDA) and the wagon offers 506 litres. For more luggage capacity or cargo of a larger size, the space can expand to 1648 litres, which isn't bad given the wagon's smaller dimensions. A tonneau cover is standard in the wagon.
Storage is handy rather than extraordinary. Front seat passengers score a pair of cupholders with a neat cover for when they're not in use. The centre console is on the smaller side, but a decent phone cubby under the climate controls makes up for that. The fold-down rear centre armrest features a pair of cupholders, a slot to hold a phone or small tablet upright and a small lidded tray with a pair of USB ports.
Towing capacity for the 2.5-litre is 550kg unbraked/1550kg braked, and the turbo petrol and turbo diesel manage 750kg braked/1600 kg braked.
The turning radius differs between the sedan and wagon. The longer sedan (yes, really) has a turning circle of 11.2 metres, with the wagon completing the same trip in 11 metres. With ground clearance of 125mm, the 6 is not an off-road proposition.
Cabin-dwellers enjoy four cupholders, two up front and two in the rear, plus a bottle holder in each door. There is plenty of space for four, with good head and legroom front and back, with just the irritating foot-operated parking brake ruining the driver's footwell.
Cargo capacity starts with a 457-litre boot and you can drop the rear seatback for extra space, or use the ski port. That boot capacity is among the best in the segment but unfortunately, the seatback doesn't split and the aperture is really narrow when the space is open.
Price and features
With four trim levels and three engine options, there are fourteen different versions of the 6. Our range review features a full model comparison and price list so you know how much you'll pay and what you'll get. Prices are RRP and therefore a starting guide - your final drive-away price will be down to you and your dealer.
The range starts with the Sport in sedan and wagon forms, with just one engine choice, a 2.5-litre 140kW/252Nm naturally aspirated petrol. Mazda claims the refreshed 6 Sport has $3000 of added value for no price increase. The Sport is priced at $32,940 for the sedan and $33,790 for the wagon.
Standard features include 17-inch alloys, head-up display, LED headlights, power mirrors, a power window in each door, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, six speakers, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear shifter, sat nav, push-button start, remote central locking, active cruise control, rear parking sensors, GPS sat nav, DAB radio, trip computer, a safety package including lane assist and a space-saver spare tyre. The wagon version adds roof rails, an intermittent rear wiper, cargo cover and cargo net as standard.
Added to the Sport edition specs are leather seats, power heated and folding mirrors, electric front seats, 11 Bose-branded speakers (including subwoofer) for the infotainment system, leather steering wheel and gear shifter, smart key (keyless go and keyless entry), front and rear parking sensors and LED daytime running lights.
Next up, The GT drops the naturally-aspirated petrol and replaces it with the 2.5-litre turbo with 170kW and 420Nm. The diesel stays and prices start at $43,990 and end at $46,390.
Added to the GT are 19-inch alloys, black or white leather seats, heated front and rear seats and an adaptive front lighting system.
The top of the range Atenza features adaptive front LED headlights, white or walnut Nappa leather seats with suede inserts and wood trim. Available from $46,390 up to $50,090, the diesel versions are slightly more expensive than before.
Compared to the 2017 model year 6, Mazda says the 2018 model features extra value of between $1000 for a slight rise (Atenza) or drop (GT). The Sport and Touring pick up $3000 worth of gear, with prices either unchanged (Sport) or dropped (Touring).
There are eight colours, with Titanium Flash (grey), Deep Crystal Blue, Blue Reflex, Snowflake White, Sonic Silver and Jet Black all free, as well as Mazda's stunningly pretty Soul Red and the understated Machine Grey, both for a small extra cost. Sadly for fans of more out-there colours like yellow, purple or green, they're all off the menu.
Mazda's MZD Connect multimedia system is accessible through the dash-mounted touchscreen and a console-mounted rotary dial. None of the range feature Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (yet, but stay tuned, the Yanks have it already), but you can plug in your iPhone or Android device via USB or hook them, or another MP3 type player, up with Bluetooth .
The multimedia system is reasonably easy to use, the navigation system is a bit blocky but otherwise accurate, and the car's various gadgets are simple enough, so a trip through the owner's manual should be rare.
Various accessories such as a roof rack, towbar, cargo barrier and boot liner are available from a dealer. Your dealer will most likely offer you tinted windows and despite not appearing on the spec sheet, it seems floor mats are standard. As is right and proper.
Missing from the options list are a seat belt extender, homelink, panoramic sunroof, a premium package over and above the standard inclusions, 18 inch rims, 16 inch alloys, red brake calipers, performance brakes, park assist, radio-CD player combination, CD changer, xenon, projector, halogen or HID headlights, heated steering wheel, nudge bar, wifi hotspot or elegance pack.
The space-saver spare is no match for a full size tyre, but it sure beats a tyre repair kit
If you like your model statistics, then read on; Mazda expects the Touring grade to take just over a third of sales with the other three grades taking around 20 per cent each of sales. Two-thirds of all 6s will probably be sedans, and just five percent (fewer than 200 units!) will be diesel.
At first glance, $52,290 seems a bit rich for a car of this age and stature, but there's a long list of standard equipment.
Your V6L arrives with 18-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker stereo with 7.7-inch media touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, electric windows and seats, reversing camera, side vision camera, keyless entry and start, automatic active LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, sat nav, leather seats and trim, auto wipers, woodgrain dash and door trims, sunroof and a full-size alloy spare.
The 7.7-inch touchscreen runs the stereo which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and in-built sat nav. A second screen higher in the dash displays car information, and the camera views, and it's odd.
Engine & trans
The 6 now has three engine options; two petrol and one turbodiesel. Both petrols are the 2.5-litre SkyActiv. The naturally-aspirated petrol is found in the Sport and Touring and generates 140kW and 252Nm (up from 138kW and 252Nm). From the same engine size but with a turbo fitted, GT and Atenza buyers score 170kW and 420Nm of torque.
The two petrols' specs include Mazda's i-eloop regenerative braking technology to help charge the battery while saving fuel. All engines feature stop-start to cut fuel consumption around town. The non-turbo also features cylinder deactivation. Mazda says that at a steady 80km/h, cutting two cylinders (one and four) reduces fuel consumption by five percent.
Other improvements to the 2.5-litre include revision of various components and a new continuous displacement oil pump.
Both of these engines drink 91RON, so no need to worry about paying for premium unleaded. Given the huge price difference between 91 and 95, that's an easy saving of around $1.60 for every 100km travelled, based on the quoted combined fuel mileage figure of the turbo.
If you were to put the thumbscrews on a Mazda engine expert, you might extract a dirty secret - run it on 98RON and you'll see somewhere in the region of 184kW from the turbo. But you didn't read that here.
The 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel's ratings come in at 140kW and 450Nm. Both power and torque are up (from 129kW and 420Nm respectively), courtesy of the diesel's variable geometry turbos and updated injector sequence.
All 6s are front-wheel drive through Mazda's six-speed automatic transmission. There is no AWD, 4x4 or rear-wheel-drive version. A manual transmission option has long since disappeared, so the manual vs automatic argument is settled for you. No manual gearbox means no clutch to worry about, so manual transmission issues are a moot point. Also unavailable is an LPG version.
Oil type and capacity are dependent on the engine type. If you're interested in whether the engines feature a timing belt or chain, it's the latter.
This is not a bang up-to-date engine - it's not even a twin-cam, and there isn't any turbo action. But goodness is it smooth.
Mazda claims that the 2.5-litre petrol will drink at the rate of 7.0L/100km and the turbo petrol at 7.6L/100km, both sipping 91RON fuel and on the combined cycle. Diesel fuel economy is quoted at 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle.
Fuel tank capacity is 62 litres across all three engine options.
The 6 has never been a bad car to drive - far from it - but earlier models and the early iterations of this current 6 (before the facelift, obviously) suffered from reasonably high road-noise levels. This new 6 finally puts all that to bed.
Mazda has focussed a lot of attention on what they call conversational clarity. Luckily they don't mean what is actually being said - my blathering would instantly ruin their KPIs - but the ability to hold and hear a conversation. There must have been hundreds of individual changes just to address noise.
A huge number of components have been changed, right down to the undercarpet floor lining, to reduce the racket from the outside getting in. Now only a poor, coarse surface lets in tyre noise. Wind noise is down due to a variety of measures, and at speed the conversational clarity goal is well and truly achieved. The sound system doesn't struggle to cover what's left.
The updated petrol and diesel appear quieter and the 2.5-litre turbo (which we already know from the CX-9) is indeed very refined. You can barely hear a peep.
Performance figures for the two updated engines are unlikely to be substantially different, if at all. The new turbo petrol, while plenty powerful and seriously torquey, is no fireball. What it does is make those who aren't content with the standard 2.5-litre engine much happier with the way the car drives. It's far more relaxed; you don't need to work the engine at all hard and the in-gear performance is probably better than the diesel when you consider the weight difference. The extra horsepower calms the driving experience, particularly when out on the freeway.
The electric power steering won't set keen drivers on fire, but it's well-weighted and accurate.
Competent, secure and relaxed - those are the best three words to define the 6 experience, and even more so with the turbo petrol engine.
Barry White. Whipped King Island cream. The opposite of Shane Warne. This car is smooth. Few engines this side of an electric are as quiet as the Honda's uncomplicated V6. Even though the power is high up in the rev range, it never feels like a struggle in the Accord.
There's a distinctly American feel to the suspension as well as the steering. Not everyone likes light steering - me included - but it does mean progress is very relaxed. The steering weights up on the freeway, and that's where you spot the only gap in the Accord's defensive line. Most of the time the ride is completely sorted, but hit a bump or an Aussie motorway's typically sorry excuse for an expansion joint and you get a jolt through the cabin. It doesn't happen very often, it's just a surprise when it does.
Passengers do love the quiet cabin, though, and rear seat passengers report having tons of room even if they're north of 183cm (six foot) tall. The welcome addition of air-conditioning vents and window blinds make it a nice place in summer, too.
Mazda has certainly carved itself a niche when it comes to offering advanced safety features up and down all the cars in each model range, and the 6 is no exception. From the entry-level Sport up, the 6 has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction control systems (aka DSC), high beam control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, radar cruise control, forward and reverse AEB, reverse cross-traffic alert, reverse camera and traffic sign recognition.
For all your child seating needs, you have three top-tether restraints and two ISOFIX points.
The Mazda6 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in November 2013. It seems unlikely a retest would see any issues scoring another five-star result. There's just one curious omission; a tyre-pressure monitoring system.
Honda wasn't mucking about when it put together the safety specs, with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep steering assistance and trailer sway control.
Honda also fits 'LaneWatch', a tricky little camera that hangs off the passenger side rear vision mirror that gives you a view down inside of the car to help stop you wiping out cyclists or pedestrians when you're turning left.
Service intervals are the same for each engine type, arriving at 12 months or 20,000km. Mazda offers capped-price servicing for the ongoing maintenance of the vehicle and service costs are listed on the Mazda website, along with any extras.
Diesel engine problems appear to be a thing of the past, with few recent complaints of merit in the usual internet forums. Common problems tend to set these sort of places on fire with reports of faults and defects, but over the last few years, the 6's reliability ratings and general durability seem strong.
Where is the Mazda6 built? All Australian cars arrive from Japan.
Honda usually offers a pretty impressive five year/unlimited kilometre warranty. At the time of writing (December 2017), the Accord was shipping with a seven year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Both come with roadside assist for the same length as the warranty.
Honda's 'Tailored Service' program covers the first five years or 100,000km. Costing $3299, the average cost of a service is $330, with a lowest price of $273 and the final service $700. There's a sting in the tail, though - if there's a bit of a racket under the bonnet, you might have to cop another $556 to adjust valve clearances and at 80,000km you'll have to swallow $285 for a fuel filter.
Honda expects a visit from you twice a year or every 10,000km, whichever comes first.