The charm of­fen­sive

The Mazda6 makes a com­pelling case for buy­ing a mid­size sedan. Shame about the SUV spoil­ers

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

SALES of mid­size SUVs are dou­ble those of sim­i­larly sized sedans and the trend isn’t show­ing any signs of chang­ing.

El­e­vat­ing the ego and the drive height is one thing; ig­nor­ing the bet­ter dy­nam­ics of a lower, longer car is an­other.

The Mazda6 is a case in point. It’s cheaper, roomier and bet­ter to drive than the com­pany’s un­de­ni­ably good CX-5 SUV — yet the lat­ter out­sold the 6 by four to one last year.

A ma­jor equip­ment up­grade and mi­nor price trims won’t re­verse that trend but should keep the Mazda6 at the top of the mid­size list for pri­vate buy­ers.

DE­SIGN

A quick look at the ex­te­rior shows there’s ... noth­ing to see. The changes run to a more chis­elled grille, changes to the front and rear light clus­ters, new al­loy wheels and a smaller shark­fin an­tenna.

Far more at­ten­tion has been paid to the in­te­rior, with a new, higher-mounted seven-inch touch­screen with sat­nav and the lat­est MZD Connect in­fo­tain­ment soft­ware.

An elec­tric park­ing brake frees up space for a Sport switch (on petrol mod­els) next to the trans­mis­sion lever. The re­design also give more space for the ro­tary in­fo­tain­ment con­troller. The GT and Atenza vari­ants gain a “re­peater” head-up dis­play that projects func­tions such as speed on to a plas­tic screen in front of the steer­ing wheel.

More al­loy fin­ished high­lights are in­tended to en­hance the pre­mium feel and the seat cush­ions have been re­worked to im­proved longdis­tance com­fort.

ABOUT TOWN

Slug­gish traf­fic high­lights the re­fine­ment of the petrol en­gine’s stop-start mech­a­nism. The Mazda6 fires up as soon as pres­sure starts to ease off the brake pedal, mean­ing the en­gine is fir­ing as the foot trans­fers to the ac­cel­er­a­tor, so there’s no lag.

The sedan is then sprightly off the line and the six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion shifts like a pre­ci­sion watch. All­round vi­sion is good and all vari­ants have a re­vers­ing cam­era.

The wide-open­ing rear doors are a boon for those cram­ming kids into car seats and the boot has de­cent space for a fam­ily of four, limited only by the lack of height im­posed by the slop­ing roofline.

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