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

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY LAURA THOM­SON

WHAT’S NEW?

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

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