MAZDA FLAGSHIP FLOATS INTO SAFER HARBOUR

Mazda6_frontAustralia’s most popular mid-sized imported car, the Mazda6, has just ducked under 50 grand. As a bonus safety features have been added to the 6 Sport, Touring and GT models at no extra cost, while the range topping Atenza receives a price cut in view of the safety equipment added to the GT.

The Atenza with the 2.5-litre petrol engine drops by $1030, while the 2.2-litre diesel alternative is down by $1380, making the entire Mazda 6 range now available for less than $50,000, without on-road costs.

Mazda6 is available in either sedan or wagon and with the two engines mated to a Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic transmission.

Featuring MZD Connect, Mazda’s next-generation in-car connectivity system, which includes a seven-inch touch screen display operated by a commander control knob on the centre console, an electric park brake and Active Driving Display, there are eight contemporary colours to choose from. On test was a 2.5-litre Touring petrol automatic, priced at $37,290.

Mazda has brought out the big guns for its passenger car flagship with a bolder, yet still elegant, front thanks to the radiator grille featuring a stronger horizontal appearance combined with a more three-dimensional wing.

The rear takes on a tauter look, with the LED light combination leading the way. The 19-inch alloy wheel with high-gloss paint is a darker colour than before, highlighting greater depth in its metallic character.

The cabin has taken on a fresh look, with changes to the instrument panel offering a sense of breadth to the front passenger, and centre console incorporating, for the first time, the MZD Connect control knob.

Mazda6_rear

With a wheelbase, at 2830 mm, among the longest in the segment, the sedan offers a spacious cabin with competitive rear legroom. Comfort is up with the best, with lightweight contoured seats delivering a sporty wrap-around feel and support, most welcome on long-distance driving.

Storage space priority is given to the driver with easy access to items used most, while boot space adds up to a generous 474 litres.

A display mounted above the meter hood provides vehicle speed and other important driving information, such as that from the advanced safety systems, as things happen.

A freestanding clear and easy to read seven-inch centre display screen is mounted on the top of the dashboard at comfortable eye-glancing level.

The newly-added MZD Connect car connectivity system paired with a smartphone makes it easier to take advantage of functions including internet connectivity and access to social networking service.

The 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G direct injection petrol engine features a high 13:1 compression ratio; a specially designed 4-2-1 exhaust system and enhanced fuel spray properties, among other things, to counter the drawbacks to such high compression.

Mazda6_interior

A balance shaft offsets the added vibration from the most powerful Skyactiv engine to date, putting out 138 kW of power at 5700 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 3250 rpm. Combined urban / highway fuel consumption is put at 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres and carbon dioxide emissions at 153 g/km. Emission standard is a below-average Euro 4.

Mazda has concentrated on keeping drivers more aware of road conditions so they can feel safer driving at night or at highway speeds.

For instance, new adaptive LED headlamps improve visibility at night and lane-keep assist, introduced for the first time, provides steering help and a steering wheel vibration alert or two audible alerts if the vehicle wanders out of the lane.

New for Mazda, driver attention alert monitors driving behaviour at highway speeds and recommends timely rest breaks and smart city brake support adds rearward detection to its previous forward detection capabilities.

The sleek, coupe-style roof line is all very well for good looks and aerodynamics but the Mazda6 is short on head room front and back for anybody of above-average height. A chubby A-pillar offers structural strength but restricts the three-quarter view from the driver’s seat.

There’s little to complain about with the reworked seating, which provides a good fit, excellent support and ride comfort befitting Mazda’s flagship model.

Noise, vibration and harshness are kept to a minimum with noise transmitted into the cabin being reduced by approximately 10 per cent on rough roads and 25 per cent on highways.

A flat, yet firm ride, has been dialled in to the upgraded Mazda6 by taking on a new front and rear damper structure and optimising the bushing shapes for the front lower arms.

The 2.5-litre petrol engine with its six-speed automatic transmission returned fuel consumption figures of 11.1 litres per 100 kilometres on a city commute and straight 5 litres per 100 kilometres on a 70 kilometre on a motorway run.

The powertrain has the ability to adopt a Sport mode via drive selection switch on the centre console. Drivers can enjoy smarter pedal response and a somewhat more spirited driving experience: far from feral

With a host of technological upgrades and price cuts, the already well-specified Mazda6 looks safe to maintain its best-seller status on the Australian market.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE

Sedan
Mazda6 2.5 Sport petrol automatic: $32,490
Mazda6 2.5 Sport Safety petrol automatic: $33,770
Mazda6 2.5 Touring petrol automatic: $37,290
Mazda6 2.5 Touring Safety petrol automatic: $38,540
Mazda6 2.5 GT petrol automatic: $42,690
Mazda6 2.5 GT Safety petrol automatic: $43,780
Mazda6 2.5 Atenza petrol automatic: $45,390
Mazda6 2.2 Touring diesel automatic: $40,140
Mazda6 2.2 Touring Safety diesel automatic: $41,740
Mazda6 2.2 GT diesel automatic: $45,540
Mazda6 2.2 GT Safety diesel automatic: $46,980
Mazda6 2.2 Atenza diesel automatic: $48,240

Wagon
Mazda6 2.5 Sport petrol automatic: $33,790
Mazda6 2.5 Sport Safety petrol automatic: $35,070
Mazda6 2.5 Touring petrol automatic: $37,590
Mazda6 2.5 Touring Safety petrol automatic: $39,840
Mazda6 2.5 GT petrol automatic: $43,990
Mazda6 2.5 GT safety petrol automatic: $45,080
Mazda6 2.5 Atenza petrol automatic: $46,690
Mazda6 2.2 Touring diesel automatic: $41,440
Mazda6 2.2 Touring Safety diesel automatic: $43,040
Mazda6 2.2 GT diesel automatic: $46,840
Mazda6 2.2 GT Safety diesel automatic: $48,280
Mazda6 2.2 Atenza diesel automatic $49,540
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

FEATURES
Front (driver and passenger) side (front) and curtain (front and rear) airbags
Dynamic Stability Control, Emergency Stop Signal
Hill Launch Assist
Reverse camera
Blind Spot Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Rear-view mirror with auto dimming function
Smart City Brake Support – Forward
Smart City Brake Support – Reverse (Touring and GT)

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda6 2.5-litre Touring petrol automatic sedan)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.488 litres
Configuration: In-line, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC S-VT petrol (Skyactiv-G) engine with i-stop and i-Eloop
Maximum Power: 138 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 3250 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.6 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 153 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed Skyactiv-G six-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4865 mm
Wheelbase: 2830 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1450 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1469-1471 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 62 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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