Mid­dle earth mover

Mazda’s fresh medium-sizer takes the bat­tle to beefier ranks of ri­vals

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - STU­ART MARTIN stu­art.martin@cars­guide.com.au

SIX fig­ures mean a lot on a sales chart. Mazda has fast­tracked its new Mazda6 to en­sure the brand tal­lies more than 100,000 in a cal­en­dar year for the first time.

In in­dus­try-speak, ‘‘ new’’ can really mean ‘‘ re­vised’’, giv­ing rise to the ris­i­ble tau­tol­ogy ‘‘ all-new’’ to de­scribe a gen­uinely new model. The third-gen­er­a­tion Mazda6 is ‘‘ all-new’’ in sev­eral im­por­tant respects. Be­ing a global car for all

mar­kets, it is al­to­gether big­ger. It runs more pow­er­ful but leaner en­gines. It loses the pop­u­lar hatch shape and man­ual op­tion.

It’s a big fam­ily sedan, or wagon, with small-car econ­omy. It’s also here when al­most all Aus­tralian buy­ers are think­ing once, think­ing again, and go­ing for an SUV.

VALUE

Go­ing auto-only pushes the start­ing price of the en­try-level Mazda6 Sport to $33,460 with 2.5-litre petrol en­gine. Step up to the Tour­ing edi­tion and it’s $37,500. The GT badge is a new one, start­ing from $43,220. The flag­ship Atenza (the 6’s name in Ja­pan) starts from $46,810.

The 2.2-litre turbo diesel line-up starts at $40,350 for the Tour­ing model. The GT is $46,070 and the Atenza tops the list at $49,660. The wagon adds a rea­son­able $1300. The hero Soul Red paint, which uses two dif­fer­ent base coats to change shade de­pend­ing on the an­gle and light, is $200.

Stan­dard fare in­cludes 17-inch al­loys on the Sport and Tour­ing, 19s for the GT and Atenza. There are also adap­tive bi-xenon head­lights on the top two models, leather-wrapped steer­ing wheel, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol with rear vents, TomTom sat­nav, cloth trim on the Sport and leather trim and pow­ered front seat ad­just­ment on the rest of the range.

Mazda claims im­prove­ments in phone noise sup­pres­sion and voice recog­ni­tion and a new func­tion for Blue­tooth­con­nected smart­phones that can dis­play and read out phone mes­sages and email on the touch­screen.

TECH­NOL­OGY

You’ll have heard or will hear a fair bit about ‘‘ Skyactiv’’ tech. That en­com­passes en­gine and an­cil­lary func­tions, in­clud­ing the 6 bring­ing the brand’s new ca­pac­i­tor-based ‘‘ i-Eloop’’ brake en­ergy re­cov­ery sys­tem.

The sys­tem can be charged quickly and more of­ten than the cur­rent bat­tery set-up and works with the ‘‘ i-stop’’ fuel sav­ing sys­tem to min­imise the use of the electrics. Mean­while the fuel miser uses com­bus­tion en­ergy to restart, rather than the con­ven­tional ig­ni­tion.

The 6’s Skyactiv-D 2.2-litre turbo diesel al­ready serves in the CX-5 and the Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre petrol comes on­line for the SUV in the new year.

Fit­ted with so­phis­ti­cated di­rect-in­jec­tion and run­ning on high com­pres­sion, the petrol en­gine can run on on ba­sic un­leaded, de­vel­op­ing 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm. Th­ese are big in­creases on the out­go­ing car yet the claimed 6.6L/100km and 153g/km of CO are sub­stan­tial re­duc­tions. The more fa­mil­iar diesel, with low 14:1 com­pres­sion and a twintur­bine tur­bocharger pro­duces 129kW and a fat 420Nm at 2000rpm.

DE­SIGN

The 6’s snout is a more ele­gant ver­sion of that on the CX-5. Over­all it sim­ply strikes you as a big­ger car— the sedan’s length up 130mm to 4.8m; the wagon’s wheel­base is 25mm longer than the sedan’s. Yet cargo space suf­fers markedly. The sedan’s 438L, is barely bet­ter than a small hatch’s. The loss is more dra­matic in the

Global roamer: The6is­abig fam­ily sedan, or wagon, with small-car econ­omy

Long and short of it: De­spite greater di­men­sions, the 6’s cargo space suf­fers markedly; the dash and in­stru­ments are easy to read

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