Fu­ture is com­fort­able as Mazda backs the sa­loon

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Motoring -

THE big prob­lem for de­sign­ers of sa­loon and hatch­back cars is how to cope with the swing to SUV/ cross­over mod­els.

The high driv­ing po­si­tion, ease of en­try and a stronger road pres­ence is win­ning the bat­tle on the fore­courts but al­most all ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers still see a fu­ture in the tra­di­tional look, par­tic­u­larly in the pres­tige mar­ket.

Mazda has de­cided that there is a fu­ture for its “6” sa­loon which has been restyled, and the com­pany has just launched an all-new Mazda3. De­spite hav­ing an ex­cel­lent all-rounder in the CX-5, which many would see as the more pop­u­lar choice, Mazda be­lieves there is still room for sa­loons like the Mazda6 in the pres­tige mar­ket.

The de­sign­ers have made their big sa­loon more stylish, with a makeover that gives it a stronger road pres­ence and above all more com­fort­able and en­ter­tain­ing for long jour­neys for the ex­ec­u­tive driv­ers it is aimed at in toptrim lev­els. Some still shun the in-vogue SUV style, even though they will be pun­ished with lower resid­ual val­ues.

It is a big chal­lenge to woo buy­ers away from the likes of an Audi A4, the new BMW 3-Se­ries or a Mercedes Benz C-Class, but Mazda is af­ter the big boys with a top-ofthe-range Ti­ta­nium+ ver­sion which comes with enough kit to please the most fussy driver. And the ace up the sleeve for Mazda is that its cars are renowned for re­li­a­bil­ity. You may not have a star or four rings on your bon­net but own­ers can counter ri­val snobby em­blems but may well have made a sound choice with the Sky­ac­tiv de­sign.

The re­freshed look shows mi­nor ex­ter­nal tweaks, a com­mon enough ploy not to upset ex­ist­ing own­ers by dat­ing their cars, but it may not be enough to suit new buy­ers who would like a more dar­ing de­par­ture to show that more than the num­ber plate is new.

In­side, crea­ture com­forts abound in the top-of-therange Ti­ta­nium+ Sky­ac­tiv D model with a 2.2-litre en­gine with a 6-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Leather seats, heated and ven­ti­lated up­front, sun­roof, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol, rain-sens­ing wipers, Bose sound sys­tem, key­less en­try, heated steer­ing wheel, hu­mid­ity sen­sor and pri­vacy glass are in­cluded.

The 2.2-litre diesel en­gine puts out 184PS and at­tracts €280 road tax. The en­gine pulls strongly once you get the revs up with plenty in re­serve in the mid-range so you can cruise in re­laxed fash­ion. Prices start at €31,945 for the en­try 2-litre petrol ver­sion and rise to €45,575 for the 2.2-litre Sky­ac­tiv-D Plat­inum+ Ver­sion.

Martin Bren­nan MAZDA6: Such tra­di­tional sa­loons still hold pres­tige

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