In a segment packed with great cars, Mazda6 is Australia’s best-selling imported mid-size passenger car.
Now Mazda has made it even tougher for the likes of Honda Accord Euro, Subaru Liberty and Ford Mondeo with the launch of the facelifted 2010 Mazda6 lineup.
And the really good news for new car buyers is the price. Loaded with extra features and refinement, the new Mazda6 has decreased in price right across the range with the entry-level Mazda6 Limited now starting at $27,310 ($935 less than its predecessor).
What Your Get
Mazda6 is the only vehicle in this segment offered in three body styles – sedan, hatch and wagon. The hatch accounts for 50 per cent of sales, the sedan 30 per cent and the wagon 20 per cent.
Style counts for a lot and even mid-life in its product cycle, the Mazda6 still turns heads with exterior changes for the facelifted model kept to a minimum. The interior also scores a mild makeover and the suspension boasts improvements for refinement and ride.
Engine choices remain petrol or diesel (the latter launching one month later) and the new model retains its five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Mazda’s 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder DOHC 16-valve petrol engine debuted in the Mazda6 and is now also available in the sporty Mazda3 SP25 and CX-7 SUV.
For the facelifted 2010 Mazda6, torque is up by 10 per cent to 226Nm at 4,000 rpm but power remains 125kW at 6,000 rpm.
Fuel consumption had improved a tad, now down to 8.3l/100kms (manual sedan) and 8.5l/100kms for the manual hatch. C02 emissions are down to 196g/km (sedan manual) and 201g/km (hatch manual).
The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel has been revised with a smaller turbocharger for better response and fuel economy. Maximum power is 132kW at 3,500 rpm and peak torque is 400Nm between 1,800 rpm and 3,000 rpm.
Fuel economy has improved minutely to 5.9l/100kms and the C02 emissions are 154g/km.
Drive is to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission. Diesel models are only sold with the five-speed manual and Mazda says there is no confirmed date for a diesel automatic.
As part of the 2010 facelift, Hill Launch Assist has been added to manual models.
Already nicely styled inside, detail changes for the 2010 model year upgrades improve the functionality of the Mazda6. But you need to be a Mazda expert to pick them.
The sliver paint on the center console has been replaced with high-gloss piano black and dials have been trimmed in chrome. There are also new trim finishes and upgraded cloth for the seats in Limited, Classic and Diesel models (the others have nicely-finished leather seats).
Classic, Luxury, Luxury Sports, Diesel Sports and Touring models gain Bluetooth wireless technology and all models apart from the entry-level Classic score a six-disc in-dash audio system with steering wheel controls (Luxury, Luxury Sports and Diesel Sports go one better with an eight-speaker BOSE system).
Luxury, Luxury Sports and Diesel Sports have optional satellite navigation mounted in the centre console with a seven-inch touch screen and maps from Whereis/Sensis.
The traditional two-dial instrumentation features new, larger, easier-to-read characters (up from 4.5mm to 5.7mm) and functionality for the trip computer has been improved along with simpler steering wheel controls.
Touring, Luxury, Luxury Sports and Diesel Sports score power adjustment for the front seats and a three-position memory setting for the driver.
Cargo space is 519 litres for the sedan and wagon (rear seat in place). Fold the rear seat and that hatchback delivers 1,702 litres (1,751 litres for the wagon). The wagon has a load floor length of 1,926mm while the hatchback is not far behind with 1,879mm.
Mazda6 retains the excellent rear seat folding system on hatchback and wagon models – simply pulling a latch in the boot automatically folds the 60/40 split rear seats down without the need to remove head restraints or open the rear side doors.
Exterior & Styling
In the looks department, the Mazda6 is already one of the sharpest tools in the box and for the 2010 facelift, stylists concentrated on minor changes intended to provide a slightly more muscular look.
At the front, the new Mazda ‘family face’ incorporates a larger badge, five-point lower grille, stronger contour lines from the grille to the A-pillars and new lights. Luxury Sports and Diesel Sports models gain bi-Xenon headlights with Mazda’s Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) which swivels the headlights through a range of 15 degrees when you’re turning to illuminate the road the car will reach three seconds later.
At the rear, new tail-lights with extra chrome trim provide a stronger, high-quality appearance. Luxury, Luxury Sports and Diesel Sports models add clear lens LEDS lamps.
Side skirts are now standard and new 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels feature modern designs and are 0.81kgs-1.1kgs lighter to reduce unsprung weight for improved ride and handling.
On The Road
Car Showroom tested a number of new Mazda6 variants over a variety of roads from Melbourne Airport, through Kinglake and up to the Yarra Valley.
First impressions were good as we re-acquainted ourselves with Mazda’s excellent 2.5-litre petrol engine. Our first car was a five-speed manual and clearly the new model retains the hallmark strong acceleration and nicely-spaced gear ratios one recalls from the outgoing Mazda6.
The five-speed auto is also a beauty and we liked the paddle-shift arrangement for manual changes – use the paddle for upshifts and steering wheel buttons for downshifts.
As usual with Mazda, the new ‘6’ is nicely made and noise suppression over bumps is top-shelf for cars in this segment.
Of all the changes in the facelift, suspension and steering work was the most substantial. The power steering was revised for better feel and the double wishbone front/multi-link rear suspension received new bushes and tuning to make it firmer.
Clearly the Mazda6 delivers nice driving dynamics and balance (amongst the best in the segment) but we’re not sure the new model provides noticeable improvement over its predecessor.
Combine the undoubted credentials of the new Mazda6 with its sharper pricing and the inescapable conclusion is that segment rivals are going to have their work cut out to make inroads into the company’s planned 680 sales per month. In a segment populated with excellent vehicles, the new Mazda6 has strengthened its appeal.
We’re fans of Ford’s European-sourced Mondeo. It’s contemporary design and spacious interiors are standouts, but driving dynamics for its lower-echelon models don’t match the latest Mazda6.
Honda’s Accord Euro is a tremendous, award-winning mid-sizer that is a billboard for Honda’s strengths – sharp styling, glorious drivetrain, excellent on-road dynamics and a spacious interior.
Subaru’s Liberty offers superior dynamics thanks to its all-wheel-drive chassis and the latest model provides much better interior space than its squeezy predecessors.
All-round package of features, styling and price are hard to beat
Hard to pick any improvements in driving dynamics