What’s Hot: Still a great drive, interior makeover looks great.
What’s Not: The only model to not get a price reduction for 2015.
X-FACTOR: No mid-life crisis for this midsizer. The updated Mazda6 is still sharp.
Vehicle Style: Medium sedan
Price: $40,480 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 129kW/420Nm 2.2 turbo diesel 4 cyl | 6sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.4 l/100km | tested: 6.5 l/100km
We’re fond of the Mazda6 here at TMR.
It’s a handsome car, well-proportioned both inside and out and one of the dynamic standouts of its segment.
Fewer people are buying the 6 in 2015, however, with sales at the end of April down 10.3 percent against the same period last year (1868 to 2082).
That’s not through any fault of its own, though. The mid-size passenger car segment is in decline, with motorists swapping their Camrys, Mondeos and Mazda6s for smaller cars or SUVs.
The new Subaru Liberty bucks that trend with 257 percent sales growth, but that car was coming off a very low base.
In the case of the 6, it's a shame, because this is a fine car. With the update released in March this year, it also now sports a much nicer interior, an enhanced infotainment system and a quieter cabin, so is it still worth your time?
We gave the low-mid grade diesel Touring sedan a week-long spin, and came away impressed by its comfort and refinement.
- Standard features: Keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents, cruise control, trip computer, leather upholstery.
- Infotainment: Mazda MZD-Connect system with 7-inch colour touchscreen, rotary dial controller, AM/FM/CD 11-speaker Bose premium audio, Pandora/Stitcher internet music streaming, Bluetooth phone/music/data integration, USB audio input, satellite navigation.
- Luggage capacity: 474 litres
If you were looking at the exterior and wondering where the changes were, you'd be forgiven for missing them. (Hint: it's mostly the thicker chrome grille garnish and updated lighting).
But, take a peek inside, and it becomes far more obvious.
There you’ll find an all-new dashboard design, the latest version of Mazda’s MZD-Connect infotainment system and a revised centre console.
The presentation is more premium than before, with stitched leather trim on the dash and centre console in the same colour as the seat upholstery.
Go for the white leather option (only available with some body colours), and it looks particularly upmarket. Just don’t wear blue jeans on a regular basis.
Gone is the old aftermarket-looking sat-nav headunit, replaced by a tombstone-like freestanding seven-inch display for the MZD-Connect infotainment system.
Showing everything from radio stations, your phone book, vehicle settings and the navigation display, the system is controlled either by the touchscreen or via the rotary knob on the centre console.
As far as infotainment systems go, Mazda’s MZD-Connect is intuitive to use and easily one of the best interfaces out there.
Connect it to your phone via Bluetooth, and you can also stream music off the internet via the Pandora or Stitcher apps.
As for comfort, it’s easy to get settled in the updated Mazda6. Redesigned seat cushions up front claim to offer better comfort on long drives, and we couldn’t fault them. The leather upholstery (standard on all models from Touring upward) feels great too.
Rear seat legroom is acceptable, and the deeply sculpted rear seat cushions provide plenty of support for your back seat passengers.
For four adults, the Mazda6 is a fine carriage indeed.
ON THE ROAD
- 129kW/420Nm 2.2 litre turbo diesel inline four with automatic engine start-stop
- Six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, front-wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
- Disc brakes, ventilated at front, solid at rear. Electronic parking brake
- Electric power steering, 11.2m turning circle
Our tester was equipped with Mazda’s 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D turbo diesel four-pot, and it’s easily a segment leader.
With 129kW and a stout 420Nm it’s got plenty of poke for the daily grind, and enough oomph to deal with the occasional spirited blat.
And unlike many diesels of its class, it’s not averse to revving.
It’s essentially the same engine as used in the Mazda3 XD Astina, and it transforms that car into a fairly respectable diesel rocket.
It’s not quite as exciting in the heavier, larger Mazda6, but it’s far from being a slouch.
The six-speed automatic has paddle shifters for manual gear selection, and gearchanges are crisp and decisive.
A big fuel-saving feature is the start-stop system, which stops the engine at traffic lights and re-lights it in 0.4 of a second as soon as your foot lifts off the brake pedal.
It’s a simple way to save fuel, and you quickly become accustomed to the slight delay as the engine restarts itself.
Mazda quotes an average fuel consumption of 5.4 litres per 100km for the SkyActiv-D, and our result after a week of suburban motoring was 6.5 l/100km. Frugality is definitely one of the Mazda6’s fortes.
Though an oil-burner, the SkyActiv-D engine is smooth and quiet compared to some European diesels, and even some petrol segment rivals (Hyundai Sonata turbo, we’re looking at you).
For 2015 the Mazda6 gets some additional sound insulation to combat road noise (a common complaint of modern Mazdas), and the cabin atmosphere has definitely benefited from it.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 35.44 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, a reversing camera and six airbags (front, front side, full-length curtain) are standard on all Mazda6 models.
As part of the MY15 update LED headlamps, auto high-beam, lane keep assist, rear collision warning and driver fatigue detection were added to the Mazda6’s safety arsenal, but only on the range-topping Atenza grade.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Competition is fierce in the midsize segment, and the Mazda6 has to battle against many newer rivals like the Liberty, Sonata, Mondeo and revamped Camry.
Despite this, the Mazda6 still comfortably holds second place in the segment.
- Subaru Liberty
- Ford Mondeo
- Toyota Camry
- Nissan Altima
- Skoda Octavia
- Hyundai Sonata
- Volkswagen Passat
- Honda Accord
- Peugeot 508
- Kia Optima
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s a tough time to be selling midsize sedans in Australia.
With buyer interest in the segment on a gradual decline and a plethora of options to choose from, Mazda's seemly 6 is competing for a slice of a slowly shrinking pie.
And there’s no shortage of new products there.
But the car tested here, the Mazda6 Touring diesel, is still a beauty - and one that we’d highly recommend.
The interior treatment knocks on the door of the premium segment, and the level of equipment should satisfy all but the most tech-obsessed punters. To drive, it’s simply a delight.
But it’s a pricey thing at $40,480. The diesel attracts a $3200 premium over its petrol-powered counterpart, and we’re not sure it’s entirely worth it.
If you do long country trips on a regular basis the diesel will prove its value, but otherwise the petrol is just as good.
As for the rest of the package, it’s rock-solid. No, it’s not the cheapest in its segment, but it’s certainly one of the best.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- Sport - $32,540
- Sport Safety - $33,770
- Touring - $37,280
- Touring Safety - $38,540
- GT - $42,720
- GT Safety - $43,780
- Atenza - $46,420
- Touring - $40,480
- Touring Safety - $41,740
- GT - $45,920
- GT Safety - $46,980
- Atenza - $49,620
- Sport - $33,840
- Sport Safety - $35,070
- Touring - $38,580
- Touring Safety - $39,840
- GT - $44,020
- GT Safety - $45,080
- Atenza - $47,720
- Touring - $41,780
- Touring Safety - $43,040
- GT - $47,220
- GT Safety - $48,280
- Atenza - $50,920
Soul Red Metallic paint adds $200, other metallic and mica paint finishes are no-cost options.