Mazda6 has been around for a few years now and has just undergone a mid-life revamp bringing in a new 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine out of CX-9 a revised 2.2-litre twin turbo diesel with a more efficient VGT (Variable Geometry Turbo) system and a 2.5 litre naturally aspirated petrol four now with cylinder deactivation to save fuel. The looks have changed and there’s more technology and higher comfort levels across a sedan and wagon, four grade, 14 variant range with a choice of three engines and six speed auto only with front wheel drive.
Unfortunately the mid-size 6 is in a segment on the ropes as buyers desert passenger cars for utes and SUVs, but if you are in the market for one of the best, affordable, mainstream passenger cars or wagons look no further than this good looking customer that comes out of a proper factory in Japan and not some cheap labour factory elsewhere. Pricing ranges from $32,490 through to $50,090.
It’s the same coke bottle shape in Mazda’s so-called ‘Koda’ style with a lovely side view accentuated by the low arcing roofline. The silhouette is sleek and there are new bumpers front and rear. They’ve added a honeycomb grille this time with new, even more aggressive looking headlights and tail lights. New colours too along with revised alloy wheels and some extra brightwork garnishes to pick out the handsome lines of the car.
The rear end has a Jag(ish) look while the new grille is a bit Bentley. Very appealing.
Mazda made a big effort updating the interior of new 6 starting with better seats and refined instruments and controls. The door trims are more stylish and functional while the top of the range Atenza model scores all the goodies including Nappa leather and some genuine wood trim fascia. The dash has lateral lines that link into the front door trims in a wrap around effect. The actual read-out meters are the same as before with colour changes.
Some models have heated and vented front seats and there’s a splash more brightwork inside the cabin.
Interior noise levels are down due to the use of thicker metal in parts of the chassis along with additional sound deadening material to the floor and roof panels.
Mazda put more kit into this 6 including a swah of so-called i-Activsense advanced driver assist technology but also plenty of feel good stuff from the base model Sport up;
- LED headlights and tail lights
- Full colour touch screen
- Multi function commander control with Mazda’s excellent MZD Connect infotainment system
- Dual zone climate control
- Premium audio
- Electric parking brake
- Internet radio integration
- Paddle shift
- Hard wired satnav
- Multiple wheel controls
- Push button start
- Parking sensors
- Traffic sign recognition
- Reverse camera with rear cross traffic alert.
Huge improvements here with all variants from the base model up scoring Mazda’s full suite of advanced driver assist safety kit called iActivSense that includes radar cruise, blind spot monitor, driver attention alert, high beam control, intelligent speed assist, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, smart city brake and autonomous emergency braking.to name some of the features. It scores a five star ANCAP rating. Higher spec models have even more safety kit.
Drive And Engine
The two petrol fours have direct injection and with the naturally aspirated unit featuring cylinder deactivation. The 2.5 turbo has a fast spooling turbo system with a variable inlet aperture and 4-3-1 exhaust headers to overcome potential turbo lag at low engine speeds.
You’ll also find a variable oil pump and other efficiency boosting stuff in the relatively high compression petrol engine.
The 2.5 naturally aspirated unit is good for 140kW/252Nm while the turbo is good for 170kW/420Nm on regular 91 RON unleaded or183kW on 98 fuel.
The 2.2-litre turbo diesel has a new twin turbo set-up featuring a VGT larger turbo that helps it achieve an impressive 140kW and 450Nm using only 5.3-litres/100km on the combined cycle. The updated diesel scores a raft of efficiency boosting components including a redesigned combustion chamber, rapid multi stage combustion and water flow management.
They even put some effort into making the diesel sound better.
All variants of the new 6 have a six speed auto transmission with paddle shift.
On the road, we preferred the diesel as it offers similar roll on performance as the petrol turbo but uses nearly half as much fuel in real world driving. On a test drive the petrol turbo sat on around 9.5 L/100km while the diesel clocked into the low 5.5L/100km bracket.
And you can hardly hear it except under full acceleration.
They tweaked the car’s dynamics too including ride control with bigger shock absorbers, steering and braking improvements. It’s sporty-ish but more luxury biased in overall feel. The centre of gravity is lower for more planted cornering and quicker steering response.
Performance across all three engine variants is strong with the turbo petrol a clear leader.
- Looks gorgeous in any grade, wagon or sedan
- Near perfect ride/handling compromise for a medium sedan
- Snazzy interior offers plenty of kit
- Diesel is super economical
- Plenty of torque from both turbo engines
- A better car al round that started from a high base.
- Wagon a good thing, feels like the sedan to drive
Not So Good Bits
- Gets a tad expensive in the high spec models
- Turbo petrol too thirsty
- Too many variants
Lose the snobbish attitude and shop this car against mid-size prestige European cars and you’ll get a big shock on a number of fronts not the least being quality, performance, dynamics and styling let alone value.
The Mazda6 is arguably the best offering in its class that has now become even better with the latest upgrade.
I would have one in a blink, a GT diesel wagon.
Pity few people even look at mid-size sedans these days, they’re missing out.
Facts And Figures: 2018 Mazda 6
- Engine: 2.5-litre petrol four cylinder, 2.5-litre turbo petrol four cylinder, 2.2-litre turbo diesel four cylinder with 140kW/252Nm, 170kW/420Nm and 140kW/450Nm respectively.
- Transmission: Six-speed conventional auto
- Safety: 5 star
- Warranty: 3 years
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $32,490