ON THE ROAD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

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

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