Well there’s confirmation for you. Three weeks back-to-back in Mazda6 models - petrol and diesel, wagon and sedan – confirmed Mazda has a winner on its hands with the all-new mid-sizer.
Question is: which one to buy? Erm…that a tough one – style, performance, quality, value-for-money…the Mazda6 ticks all the boxes.
Where there is no question is the competence and ‘right-for-today’, smarts of Mazda’s ‘Skyactiv’ technology – engines, transmission chassis and body. More than a marketing ‘catchphrase’, making the Mazda6 lighter, better to drive and delivering breakthrough technology for performance and optimized fuel consumption is what Skyactiv is all about and why Mazda is currently at the top of its game and selling cars in Australia in record numbers.
Mazda6 What Overview
So Car Showroom went back-to-back in mid-grade Mazda6 GT sedan (petrol) and Touring wagon (turbo-diesel) and range-topping Atenza sedan (petrol) – the latter in the new, ‘Soul Red Metallic’ paint which is superb. Prices ranged from $43,220 for the GT sedan to $48,110 for the Atenza wagon with the Atenza sedan splitting the difference at $46,810.
The Mazda6 Atenza boasts an impressive array of extra features even over the comprehensively-equipped GT model – items like radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, forward obstruction warning, high-beam control, cross traffic alert for the rear-view camera and smart brake support system. If you’re thinking they all sound like high-tech safety/convenience items normally found on upscale European vehicles you’d be right and Mazda is to be applauded for introducing them to its under $50,000 mid-sizer.
Over the ‘Sport’ and ‘Touring’ models, the GT (an Atenza) score LED DRLs, Bi-Xenon headlights, a glass sunroof, keyless entry, heated seats and auto-dimming rear-view mirror. GT, Atenza and Touring models get leather seats, the six-speaker Bose premium audio system and front/rear parking sensors.
Of course all Mazda6 models score the outstanding styling inside and out (Mazda’s best work we reckon), abundant interior space (appreciated by family buyers) and Skyactiv technology.
Mazda doesn’t have a lot of diesel-engined passenger cars (the Mazda3 is the only other offering in Australia) but the Mazda6’s Skyactiv-D 2.2 was worth the wait – it’s a cracker.
The turbo-diesel delivers 129kW at 4500rpm and 420Nm at 2000rpm. That actually beats Ford Mondeo turbo-diesel (120kW/340Nm).
Mazda6 petrol is the Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre with 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm.
Both drive through a six-speed automatic transmission.
With combined cycle fuel consumption of 5.4l/100kms (diesel) and 6.6l/100kms (petrol), both Mazda6 powertrains are at the front of the field.
Mazda6 The Interior
Inside, the Mazda6 delivers a classy look and upmarket materials which really drive-home the value-for-money package – this feels like a much more expensive car.
There’s some complex shaping going on in the dashboard with multiple tiers, curves and straight lines. Even the audio/satellite navigation screen is housed in a nicely-recessed binnacle atop the centre console.
Conventional gauges sit in a stylish curved binnacle and the three-spoke steering wheel (rake/reach adjustable) is sized just-right and sportily shaped.
As per our previous drives of the Mazda6 we reckon the front seats could do with more shaping/support but there’s plenty of room even for tall folk.
Rear seat accommodation must be close to best-in class for legroom.
Sedan luggage space is rated at 438-litres while the wagon affords 451-litres. Fold the rear seat flat and both balloon to a very handy 1,593-litres.
Mazda6 Exterior & Styling
Without doubt the Mazda6 is Mazda’s best styling work to-date. It’s large (for a mid-sizer) at 4,865mm/4800mm in length and 1,840mm in width and the proportions make for a low-wide looking which is certainly sporty and contemporary.
But it’s the blend of curves and straight lines, the stunningly-shaped front fenders and dynamic front-end with the large Mazda ‘winged’ grille and piercing headlights which has everyone talking. Even when parked, the combination of light and shade caused by the Mazda6’s abundant curves makes for a standout on-road presence.
And good as the sedan is, the Mazda6 wagon goes even further with the extended rising glasshouse and sloping roofline exuding glamour like no other Mazda.
‘Sport’ and ‘Touring’ models ride on 17-inch alloys while ‘GT’ and ‘Atenza’ models step-up to 19-inchers.
Mazda6 On The Road
Mazda6’s Skyactiv chassis has a lot in common with the CX-5 medium SUV – altered for a longer wheelbase, lighter weight and lower centre of gravity. Combined with the lightweight and rigid Skyactiv body shell, the package for the Mazda6 was all about slick driving dynamics.
Also remember the sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and handy 14.2 gear ratio for the electric power steering…there’s a lot going on underneath the Mazda6 and it’s all good.
Both the petrol and diesel engines deliver handy response and impressive refinement across the range (the petrol a tad noisy when working at the limit).
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop, the Mazda6 got the job done with point-in precision, great balance and a flat stance. The newcomer certainly gives the previously all-conquering Ford Mondeo a genuine rival for best-in-class dynamics in the twisty stuff.
Around town, the Mazda6 was nimble, light and similarly refined. When parking you are conscious the ‘6’ – like the Ford Mondeo – is one of the larger mid-sizers so best to miss those Mazda3-size parking spots (even with the reversing camera to help).
Regular Car Showroom readers will know we rate the Mazda6 very highly. Our main criticism is the front seats which – having regard to its excellent driving dynamics could be a bit more sporty/supportive.
In a market segment populated with some great cars, the Mazda6 goes toe-to-toe with any of them and on that basis alone you must include it on your shopping list. In fact when considering this segment, no matter whether your preference is cars from Europe or cars from Asia, if the Mazda6 isn’t in your ‘Top 3’…well you’re on the wrong page.
Wagon or sedan will be dictated by your personal requirements. Both look great and are comprehensively-equipped inside.
Diesel of petrol? Now that’s a tough one.
The Skyactiv-D 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is a gem and its 5.4l/100kms fuel consumption must be factored in. And the 138kW/250Nm of Mazda’s 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine leaves many rivals lagging.
Best to test-drive both before deciding but here’s a tip which might surprise – for refinement and quiet operation it’s hard to pick between either.
Mazda6 The Competition
Toyota Camry is of course the only Aussie-made car in the mid-size segment and on the back of strong fleet business dominates sales by almost three-to-one over the Mazda6 (second-best seller). While the Camry doesn’t have a diesel option, there’s no doubting its value (starting from $30,490) and the current model’s looks are a vast improvement over previous generations. However there’s no denying the Camry isn’t in the ‘glamour’ league of the Mazda6.
Ford’s German-sourced Mondeo is a Car Showroom favourite, priced from $31,490. Diesel or petrol, the Mondeo excels at everything and comes armed with precision German quality and driving dynamics. An all-new Mondeo is due this year.
Honda Accord Euro bristles with Honda quality in every department and, priced from $30,340 is certainly good value. No diesel for the Accord and maybe just a tad short of the Mazda6 for interior space.
You should also look at the Hyundai i40 and Kia Optima although the latter doesn’t come with a diesel engine option.