HI-TECH HEAVEN: HITTING THE ROAD IN THE REVAMPED MAZDA 6 TOURER
Mazda has given its popular 6 range a facelift. We find out what’s new — and why it’s what’s on the inside that counts
At first glance, not much appears to have changed on the Mazda 6 — indeed apart from a few styling tweaks, it is nearly identical to its predecessor.
And it’s little wonder. First introduced for the 2014 model year, before being updated for 2016, you could be forgiven for wondering why Mazda has once again modified the 6.
However, in this instance, it is very much a case of what’s inside that counts.
Mazda’s G-vectoring Control (GVC) — the manufacturer’s own torque distribution kit — makes a debut on the D-segment model, promising to smooth corners and improve driving satisfaction. Meanwhile, new systems within the pre-existing Skyactiv-d powertrains deliver added responsiveness, while reducing engine noise.
LOOKS AND IMAGE
Following an image revamp in 2015, little remained to be updated on the 6.
From the outside, it is an eye-pleasing model, with flowing lines joining together in Mazda’s signature grille, which is flanked by a sharp LED lighting signature.
In the cabin, several enhancements are seen, including a redesigned steering wheel, fresh instrument dials and chrome effects on tactile components such as the glovebox.
One of the enhancements likely to go unnoticed, but which shows Mazda’s appreciation of customer feedback, is the improved quality of the front seatback pockets, which aims to prevent wear.
Similarly to its previous guise, the cabin of the Mazda 6 boasts a premium feel, which belies its reasonable price.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Space is plentiful with the 6, both in sedan and wagon form. Front and rear passengers can sit in comfort and while the estate’s 522-litre boot may not be able to compete with other models in its class, it is, nonetheless, adequate.
A host of technology as standard — much of which was available on the previous model — makes the 6 not only comfortable to drive, but safe and practical as well.
This includes a forward-sensing camera, through which the car’s advanced smart city brake support and smart brake support operate.
Meanwhile, a clever system monitors the driver’s condition at speeds above 40mph and alerts them to take a rest if it detects a behaviour change.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Hop behind the wheel and the first thing you will notice in the updated Mazda 6 is the reduced cabin noise. This is thanks to the Natural Sound Smoother, a small damper placed in the hollow part of each piston pin, which works to reduce noise from the diesel powertrain.
While not new technology, it is the first time it has been seen in the 2.2-litre Skyactiv-d unit and it certainly makes the difference, making the powerful diesel sound like a completely different powerplant altogether.
The hotly anticipated GVC system, meanwhile, uses engine torque to generate deceleration g-force, which in turn shifts the load to the car’s driven front wheels, increasing front tyre grip to boost responsiveness.
As long as the driver maintains a constant angle through the bend, the GVC then restores acceleration engine torque, transferring the load back to the rear wheels.
Effectively, it gives the Mazda 6 a smoother and more stable drive than ever before.
There is no option to disable the system on the 6, so it could be argued that we don’t actually know if it is working or not.
However, one thing that can be said is it takes a lot of persuasion to convince the car to understeer on even the tightest of turns.
Another thing the GVC will do, Mazda claims, is improve passenger comfort at high speeds, as fewer steering corrections are required to keep on path.
We can’t help but agree that the model does feel noticeably stable on the motorway, which, combined with the comfortable ride, makes it an ideal long distance wagon. VALUE FOR MONEY On looks alone, the 2017 Mazda 6 would not be worth the premium over any previous guise.
However, when the extensive engine tech is taken into consideration, the model becomes one of the most technologically equipped in its price range.
The Mazda 6 price range starts at £19,795 for the saloon, with the 2.2 Skyactiv-d Tourer in SE-L trim priced at £24,795.
WHO WOULD BUY ONE?
Drivers looking at the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat could be tempted by the Mazda 6. With a host of standard equipment, especially in SE-L Nav trim, it provides an eye-catching alternative to the much more commonplace models.
The revamped Mazda 6 Tourer compares favourably with it’s rivals