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Mazda 6


Hyundai Sonata

Summary

Mazda 6

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.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.6L/100km
Seating5 seats

Hyundai Sonata

Australia’s love for SUVs is a lot like our embrace of Netflix. EVERYONE seems to be getting on board and people love to boast that they never watch traditional free-to-air TV anymore, while fewer and fewer people are buying once-dominant sedans in favour of their boxier alternatives. 

But, there's still a good chunk of the population that prefer good old telly, and the shape of car most of us grew up with. Yes, many regular TV voters and sedan fans will be in the same camp, but that's okay. 

So if you're considering a sedan like the Hyundai Sonata, you're not alone. And like most mainstream brands, Hyundai is committed to building a range of cars to suit everyone. This commitment is so strong that you can choose between two mid-size sedans in the Hyundai stable, with the Sonata vying for your attention alongside the i40

The admittedly slow-selling Sonata has been given a pretty significant refresh for 2018, to help it compete with rivals like the new Camry and the Mazda6, but has Hyundai done enough? 

Safety rating
Engine Type2.4L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mazda 67.5/10

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?


Hyundai Sonata7.3/10

The new Hyundai Sonata gets big marks for the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Premium’s sweet turbo engine and the fact that both variants have full size spare tyres and run on regular fuel. Oh, and Hyundai’s five year warranty. 

It’s a pretty good car overall, but it’s a shame to see AEB missing from the spec sheet in 2018. The Premium is the clear pick between the two in terms of an overall package, but the Active’s $14,500 cheaper price tag makes it the sweet spot in our eyes. The new Camry and the Mazda6 do seem to right the Sonata's wrongs though.

Would you look past the lack of AEB to buy a Sonata? Tell us what you think in the comments below. 

Design

Mazda 68/10

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.


Hyundai Sonata7/10

For 2018, the Sonata has been completely restyled ahead of the A-pillar to bring it in line with more recent models like the i30 and Kona. This means the new cascading corporate grille, sleeker headlights which are mounted lower due to a reshaped bonnet, bumper and front guards. 

The rear end has been similarly sharpened, with new rear quarter panels and tail-lights, while the number plate has been moved from between the lights to within the bumper. The bootlid has also been reprofiled to accentuate the Sonata’s fastback roof profile.

On the inside there's an updated dash with metallic buttons under the multimedia unit, and both versions get bespoke steering and alloy wheel designs.

Practicality

Mazda 67/10

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.


Hyundai Sonata8/10

The Sonata was already one of the more spacious mid-size sedans around, with heaps of legroom for rear seat passengers, enough cabin width to manage three adults across on short journeys, and a surprising amount of rear headroom for its sloping roofline. The Premium does lose 40mm of headroom because of its sunroof, but rear passengers only lose 15mm.

This ample rear legroom also means more cabin length than most mid-size SUVs, which makes fitting a rearward-facing baby seat without compromising front passenger legroom a lot more likely.

There are two ISOFIX child seat mounts back there for optimum fitment as well, and the Premium’s retractable door blinds are a far more elegant solution than the window socks that have become a fundamental of modern parenting.  

Front passengers get a cupholder each in the centre console, while rear occupants get the same in the fold-down armrest and there’s a bottle holder in each door. 

The back seat folds 60/40 to expand beyond the generous 462 litres/510 litres VDA (even though conventional wisdom suggests the VDA figure should be smaller). The split-fold can be actioned via the cabin or boot pulls, and you’ll be able to impress your friends with the hidden boot release button within the top of the H in the Hyundai badge.

One definite highlight is that both Sonatas get a full-size alloy spare wheel instead of the more common spacesaver under the boot floor.

A maximum braked tow rating of 1300kg for both versions is rather modest, however. 

Price and features

Mazda 68/10

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.

Next in the range is the Touring. Also in sedan and wagon form, you can also specify the twin-turbo diesel motor with 140kW and 450Nm. Prices start at $36,690 and stretch up to $40,990.

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.


Hyundai Sonata7/10

Nobody likes higher prices, but Hyundai claims to have met the $400 rise for the base Sonata Active (now $30,990 MSRP) with an extra $2000 of value. 

Extra features for 2018 include an 8.0-inch multimedia screen with in-built sat nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also gains dual-zone climate control, push-button start, a hidden boot release button, and chrome door handles.

Other equipment highlights include a leather steering wheel and gear selector, auto headlights, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, plus 17-inch alloys.

The previous mid-spec Elite has been dropped from the range, which creates a sizeable $14,500 gap between the Active and the $45,490 MSRP Premium (which carries the same price tag as before).

Hyundai claims the new Premium brings $1000 more value though, with the addition of LED headlights and a wireless Qi mobile phone charger on top of the updates applied to the Active.  

Beyond the Active’s spec list, the Premium also adds features like leather trim, a panoramic sunroof, proximity boot opening, heated and ventilated front seats with power adjustment, plus memory settings for the driver’s seat and side mirrors.  There’s also active cruise control, front parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, auto wipers and 18-inch alloys.

While the Premium’s extra features (and drivetrain advantages detailed below) are numerous, we’d find it tough to make the $14,500 jump over the Active. Hyundai sales expectations also reflect this, with the Active tipped to make up around 70 per cent of Sonatas on the road.

Engine & trans

Mazda 67/10

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.


Hyundai Sonata7/10

The biggest news under the new Sonata’s bonnet is the eight-speed torque converter auto fitted to the Premium. Stepping up from the six-speeder used before, Hyundai claims it improves fuel consumption (more detail below) from the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder unit that still makes a very healthy 180kW of power and 353Nm of torque. 

The Active’s drivetrain is unchanged though, with the same 138kW/241Nm 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, paired with a six-speed torque converter auto. 

Fuel consumption

Mazda 67/10

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.


Hyundai Sonata7/10

The Sonata Premium’s new automatic knocks 0.7L/100km off its official combined figure, which now stands at 8.5L/100km. 

The Active’s simpler but less peppy drivetrain is still the better of the two, with an unchanged 8.3L/100km combined.

Neither figure may appear particularly frugal, but this would be offset to a large degree by the fact that both engines still deliver their best sipping regular old 91RON unleaded fuel. 

Considering 91 is a full 13.2c/L cheaper than premium 95RON on average across Sydney this week, the Sonata goes some way toward balancing key rivals’ lower windscreen sticker numbers at the hip pocket.

Driving

Mazda 67/10

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.

The front and rear suspension components have been revised, too, just one example is the increase in the size of the dampers, from 32mm to 35mm in diameter.

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.


Hyundai Sonata7/10

Given the unchanged engines and suspensions, the Sonata drive experience is largely the same as before. 

Which is no bad thing. It steers and handles better than you’d expect from a car developed primarily for the Korean and US markets, cabin noise is well contained and generally just does a good job.

It lacks the sporting edge of the Mazda6, but it’s not hard to imagine most buyers in this segment would probably prefer it that way. The Australian-tuned suspension also does a better job of maintaining comfort over rough roads.

The Premium’s new eight-speed auto does a good job, too, and really helps the engine come alive when you put it in Sport mode. 

It’d be really nice to have the Premium’s turbo urge in the Active, but its drivetrain is par for the course in its price bracket and more than enough to keep up with traffic and handle the open road. 

Safety

Mazda 69/10

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.


Hyundai Sonata7/10

The previous version of the Sonata was awarded a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2015, but we’re surprised to see that AEB still doesn’t appear on either version of the updated model, even as an option. 

Most of the Sonata’s main rivals have this key crash avoidance tech fitted standard these days, and it’s even available on US-market versions of the Hyundai. 

Hyundai Australia explains that the Korean plant that builds our Sonatas doesn’t equip them with AEB for their home market, and the numbers just don’t add up for Down Under. 

Aside from this omission, both versions come fitted with all other current status quo features, including front and side airbags, with curtain airbags covering both rows, ABS, as well as traction and stability control. 

The Premium adds driver fatigue alerts, blind-spot detection, lane guidance, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alerts and active cruise control.

Ownership

Mazda 67/10

Mazda is confidently persisting with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and with roadside assist for an extra charge. A dealer will no doubt sell you an extended warranty if you're keen.

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.


Hyundai Sonata8/10

The Sonata is covered by Hyundai’s generous 'iCare' ownership program that includes a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, including free roadside assistance for the first 12 months. 

Service intervals differ between the trim levels, with the Premium’s turbocharged engine requiring a visit to the mechanic every 12 months or 10,000km, while the Active’s simpler drivetrain stretches out to every 12 months or 15,000km.

The Sonata comes with a lifetime capped price servicing program, with the Active’s pricing during the warranty capped at $265 (each) for the first three services, a $365 major service, with the final reverting to $265. 

The Premium is not dissimilar, with its first three services capped at $275, then a major service for $355, before dropping back to $275.