Mazda6 Atenza wagon has a commanding street presence

Mazda6 Atenza wagon has a commanding street presence

The Mazda6, which comes in sedan and wagon variants, with petrol or diesel power, incorporates the full range of Mazda’s efficient SkyActiv technologies. These include the company’s clever brake energy regeneration system, and numerous safety features.

Best of all in the minds of many buyers, the wagon is a great looking machine thanks its Kodo (Japanese for Soul of Motion) design theme.

We have just passed a pleasant week behind the wheel of a top-of-the-range Mazda6 Atenza turbo-diesel wagon. From the outset the wagon impressed with its non-utilitarian good looks, you could even say it has a commanding street presence.

Mazda6 Atenza wagon has a commanding street presence

Bigger than the model it replaces, the new Mazda6 wagon has a large single frame radiator grille, flanked by headlamps incorporating LEDs and a new corona-style light emphasising the vehicle’s low, wide stance.

This is continued in a coupe-like cabin in which the A-pillar has been moved back 100mm, an added bonus being a better view for the driver. The rear of the roof dips to round out the Mazda6’s coupe character.

The test car was finished in a new Mazda halo colour, Soul Red Metallic. Made up of a base coat, with reflective aluminium flakes, an upper coat is a semi-translucent layer with intense red pigment. The result is a surface of rare depth of colour.

Inside the cabin it’s all about the driver, with intuitive ergonomic controls and instruments and a 3.5-inch multi-information display in the main instrument cluster.

Mazda6_interiorThe 5.8-inch touchscreen for infotainment systems sits high on the centre stack – a spot not to its best advantage as it’s all but obliterated with bright sunlight falling on the screen – a sad reflection on the design that’s probably aggravated by Australia’s strong sunshine.

Passengers are kept in the level of comfort to which modern car travellers have become accustomed in well-shaped sporty seats.

In our test car, these were covered with off-white leather, a potential nightmare for parents with young children and their messy ways. Alternatively, there is a black version of the leather, or woven fabric.

Mazda6‘s ride comfort is good on all but the harshest surfaces, indeed even corrugated dirt doesn’t upset it overmuch.

Handling is competent and the steering has good feedback, but this Mazda is not exactly aimed at the sporting driver, rather at the person who is looking for a good chassis for everyday driving, not in pushing the limits on bends. Should you make a mistake and arrive at a bend too fast a combination of built in understeer and, as a last resort, electronic stability control should keep you out of trouble.

The Mazda6 station wagon is spacious, leading its segment in rear legroom. In-cabin storage spaces abound, while the cargo area can take up to 522 litres of gear with the rear seat backs up, or 1664 litres with them folded. The rear gate lifts well out of the way for easy loading, but isn’t out of reach of vertically challenged users.

The Mazda6 Atenza wagon has all the equipment expected in a high-grade vehicle, from premium 11-speaker Bose surround sound designed exclusively for this car. It provides iPod, USB and Bluetooth connections and has hands-free mobile connectivity as well as an Aux jack, there’s a ‘new mail’ function for Bluetooth-connected smartphones that enables display and readout of SMS, MMS and email via the 5.8-inch touchscreen.

Comprehensive parking assist combines integrated rear parking camera with guide lines, audio warning signal and front and rear warning zones with on-screen display.

Advanced safety systems in our test car included Radar Cruise Control, which maintains a safe distance from a vehicle in front, and Smart Brake Support, incorporating Distance Recognition Support and Forward Obstruction Warning.

Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Monitoring. After dark the High Beam Control System switches between low and high beams to avoid dazzling oncoming motorists, Adaptive front lighting helps drivers see around curves based on the angle through which the steering wheel is turned.

The safety picture is completed by a rigid passenger cell with pre-programmed deformation, ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control and traction control.

The Atenza test vehicle was powered by a 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine driving through a six-speed automatic transmission. This diesel uses the world’s lowest compression ratio of just 14:1. This makes it is possible to improve combustion timing and efficiency, put less strain on engine parts and enabling lighter components to be used.

The result is power output of 129 kW at 4500 rpm and torque of 420 Nm at 2000 rpm. The wagon is good for a zero-to-100 km/h time of 8.6 seconds, though driving like that will lift it well above the official fuel consumption number of only 5.4 litres per 100 km.

During our test period we had it averaging in the low sixes on a mix of town work and motorway driving. That’s impressive for a car of this size and performance.

Mazda’s i-Eloop brake energy regeneration system is the first such passenger car system in the world to utilise a capacitor to store recovered electricity to power the vehicle’s electrical systems. The i-Stop engine stop-start function also plays a part in saving fuel. This system was recently the subject of a safety recall and Mazda Australia reports most vehicles have now been checked and none have experienced any real problems.

The latest Mazda6 turbo-diesel station wagon will sell well thanks to an excellent combination of style, practicality, low fuel consumption and high build quality.

Mazda6 Sport 2.5 petrol wagon automatic $34,760
Mazda6 Touring 2.5 petrol wagon automatic $38,800
Mazda6 GT 2.5 petrol wagon automatic $44,520
Mazda6 Atenza petrol wagon automatic $48,110
Mazda6 Touring 2.2 turbo-diesel wagon automatic $41,650
Mazda6 GT 2.2 turbo-diesel  wagon automatic $47,370
Mazda6 Atenza 2.2 turbo-diesel wagon automatic $50,960

Type: 2.2 litre in-line intercooled turbocharged
Cylinders: Four / four valves per cylinder
Displacement: 2183 cc
Bore x stroke: 86 mm x 94 mm
Compression ratio: 14:1
Fuel system: Common-rail electronic direct injection
Maximum power: 129 kW / 4500 rpm
Maximum torque: 420 Nm / 2000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Overall length: 4800 mm
Overall width: 1840 mm
Overall height: 1480 mm
Wheelbase: 2750 mm
Track width, front/rear: 1595 / 1585 mm
Kerb weight: 1430 kg
Cargo capacity: 451 litres / 1593 litres (rear seats folded)
Towing capacity: 750kg (unbraked); 1600kg (braked)
Towball download: 120 kg
Fuel tank capacity: 62 litres
Turning circle (kerb to kerb): 11m
Co-efficient of drag: Cd 0.28

Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 8.4 sec
Max speed: 216 km/h
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 4.9 litres/100 km; CO2 emissions 129g/km, Euro VI

Front axle: MacPherson strut
Rear axle: Multi-link independent suspension
Brakes: Ventilated disc brakes at front, solid at rear. ABS, Emergency Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist.  i-ELOOP brake energy generation system and i-ActivSense hazard avoidance
Steering: Electric rack-and-pinion power assist
Wheels: Alloy 7.5J x 19 front and rear (Temporary steel spare)
Tyres: 225/49R19

Greenhouse Rating: 7.5 / 10 Air Pollution Rating: 5 / 10

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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