Mazda 6 Sedan Review

By: Nathan Ponchard

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 Mazda 6 Sedan Mazda 6 Sedan  Mazda 6 Sedan
 Mazda 6 Sedan Mazda 6 Sedan  Mazda 6 Sedan
 Mazda 6 Sedan Mazda 6 Sedan  Mazda 6 Sedan

Road test: Bigger new-gen Mazda 6 aims for luxury.

Mazda 6 Sedan Review
Road test: Mazda 6 Sedan

 

Mazda 6 Sedan

There's something in the air at the moment and it smells like success, or Mazda, which are one and the same really because the Hiroshima outfit is currently kicking arse in this country.

As of November, Mazda has sold 94,332 vehicles in Australia in 2012 - more than its entire 2011 total, as well as nearly 12,000 more than Ford, which has slipped to fifth place behind Hyundai. And that's without including the all-new Mazda 6 that launched first week in December, or the facelifted CX-9 SUV just a week later.

Mazda is being refreshingly candid about its ambitions with the third-generation 6. It expects an average of 750 Aussies a month to lay down their hard-earned for what is a much larger, sexier and more luxurious car - one that can not only eclipse the Japanese competition, but take the premium fight to Euro stuff like the VW Passat. And initial impressions are promising.

Riding on two wheelbases (2830mm sedan, 2750mm wagon) to satisfy both the Yanks and the Europeans (the US previously had a unique, larger, V6-engined Mazda 6 for gen-two), the new 6 is only the second car in Mazda's range to employ its full suite of SkyActiv tech. This covers drivetrain, suspension, body, the works, and it has turned the 6 into a less overtly sporty, but more sophisticated,  luxurious, well-rounded upper-mid-sized car.

The only 6s we drove on the launch were the top-spec, 19-inch-wheeled, petrol-engined Atenza sedan and wagon - not the 129kW/420Nm 2.2-litre turbodiesel or the lesser-equipped GT (on 19s), Touring (on 17s) or entry-level, $33,460 petrol-only Sport. But after having been a little underwhelmed by the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G petrol in AWD CX-5s (if not necessarily the lighter, front-drive manual base model), having a good strop in the 6's 2.5-litre version proved enlightening.

Tuning for 91 octane has dropped outputs by 3kW and 6Nm over Euro cars, but the six-speed auto Aussie 6 is a punchy, throaty, brisk performer. It doesn't quite achieve the aural pleasure of the original 6's MZR 2.3, but it's definitely improved over the previous 2.5. It's also vastly more economical - dropping consumption from 8.8L/100km to a best-in-class 6.6!

Dynamically, all the verve the 6 has been known for is still there, but it's been buffed off a bit to make the car more progressive. The instant response and tail-wagging antics of the previous car have been replaced by polished neutrality, a better, quieter ride, and a more sophisticated demeanour. Yes, it's less rewarding until you drive the tyres off it, but Mazda figures punters will approve of the confident stance, the smart styling, the slick, comfy interiors, and the 6's solid value-for-money.

Of the two, our pick would be the cool wagon. Its shorter wheelbase makes it slightly sharper to drive, yet it still has loads of cabin space. Prepare to see a few.

 

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