ON THE ROAD
THE Luxury Sports Mazda6 hatch is impressive. It should be, given the hefty price of $44,640. That money can buy a Holden SS Commodore and an extra $1000 gets you a Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo.
The Mazda6 is a different type of car. It’s a size smaller, is a bit more refined and has cutting-edge Japanese style.
Many Mazda owners would never think of a Ford or a Holden because they consider their brand to be a prestige marque. For them, the Luxury Sports 6 is a good pick.
The only question is value for money. There’s a lot of luxury gear in the Luxury Sports 6, but some things are missing.
Then there is the performance, which seems underwhelming given the price.
The basics of the 6 are all good. I like the suspension, the steering and the stiffer body.
The increased cabin space — including cavernous boot, fresh design and high levels of refinement — are all class-leading attributes.
All of these features are part of the standard car, which shapes as one of the best bargains on the market. A quick spin in the base model reveals it is the class leader, though the ride is too firm and the engine lacklustre when paired with an automatic.
The Mazda6’s engine is a smooth powerplant and serves well enough in most models in the range. It is especially quiet at idle, adding to that refined feeling.
The 126kW and 226Nm the engine produces is adequate, but nothing more. There is enough to get you around, and there is more meat in the bottom end than before. But it seems underdone in such an expensive car, especially one with Sports in its name.
If only Mazda had dropped in a turbo engine as Ford has done with the Mondeo XR5.
The new six-speed manual is a nice gearbox, with crisp shifts and a light clutch. You can have a lot of fun flicking through the gears.
Mazda has a done a good job setting up the new 6, which is a treat to drive on twisty roads.
The Luxury Sports 6 has 18-inch rims and low-profile rubber. It all helps contribute to the excellent agility of the car.
There is only a hint of tugging through the steering wheel when you accelerate while turning and it really isn’t a problem.
Switching to an electric steering system has not led to any deterioration. This car gives the driver excellent feel and feedback.
Overall, the interior of the Luxury Sports model, including the supportive leather seats, is worth bragging about. The dashboard layout is simple yet stylish, and the instrument cluster is a highlight.
With a mix of red numbering, purple backlighting and thick metal rings, it looks as if it belongs to a more expensive car. Unfortunately, the narrow information display with mono type that sits above the sound system head unit is a generation behind the high-resolution graphics in premium Mondeos and FG Falcons.
Though the Luxury Sports Mazda6 is a little disappointing, the entry-level 6 is an impressive car for the money.
THE BOTTOM LINE
IMPRESSIVE, but costly and missing some punch