What’s Hot: New-found refinement, slick auto, swift and silky on-road
What’s Not: Rear-seat roominess more limited than some of the competitors.
X-FACTOR: Slinky style sets it apart, but the new 6 also has the features and performance to match the premium Europeans – but without the price tags.
Vehicle Style: Medium sedan
Price: $49,620 (plus on-roads)
129kW/420Nm 2.2 litre turbo-diesel | six-speed automatic.
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.4 l/100km | tested: 6.8 l/100km
The proverbial ‘man on the galloping horse’ would be battling to notice the differences between the 2015 Mazda6 and its predecessor.
But if he reined in his neddy and took a closer look, he’ll see subtle tweaks to the front with new headlights, revised foglights and a new grille. And, at the rear, the tail-lights have also had a make-over.
It’s on the inside and underneath however where most of the upgrades are found.
The current-generation 6 – launched in 2012 – is one of the smartest and most stylish of the medium segment sedans. It sits at the top step of the dais for mid-sized import sales and is only outsold in the segment by Toyota’s Australian-built Camry.
It comes with petrol or diesel engine choices, both are good, but we chose the top-spec diesel Atenza. In our view, the diesel is the pick of the powerplants.
Quality: The 2015 Mazda6’s cabin has a distinctly classy feel; to look across its premium trims and surfaces you would swear you were sitting in a high-priced European car.
The instrument cluster is greatly improved with easy-to-read white-on-black dials under chrome-ringed hoods.
The seven-inch colour screen sits atop the dash and is perfectly positioned for quick glances or finger touches as required.
Two-leather trim colours are on offer for the Atenza: black or white. With the black, you get a chocolate-coloured stitched-leather panel across the dash and on the door trims.
Comfort: Mazda says it put a lot of work into redesigning the seats to reduce driver-and-passenger fatigue for long-distance cruising.
We have no complaints: the seats are nicely shaped and with the right under-thigh support. The supple leather adds to the sense of comfort as well as imparting an upmarket feel to the interior generally.
Equipment: The Atenza comes with quite an inventory that includes tilt-and-slide sunroof, dual-zone climate-control air-con, adaptive LED headlights, head up display, cruise control, a new electric parking brake, radar cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, heated front seats and a trip computer.
Also on the menu is the MZD Connect system’s seven-inch colour touch-screen, multi-function commander control, a six-speaker Bose audio system with an MP3-compatible single-disc CD player, satellite navigation, 19-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, internet radio connectivity via Pandora, Stitcher and Aha and iPod-compatible USB input ports.
Storage: The Mazda’s boot will swallow 474 litres of luggage.
Inside, you’ll find four door-pockets, sunglasses holder, a good-sized glove box, an equally good-sized bin beneath the front centre armrest, map pockets behind the front-seat backs, two front and two rear cup holders (the rear two housed in the drop-down armrest), an open bin at the base of the centre stack and a centre-console bin with a ‘roll-a-door’ top.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: There are some cars that when you slide in behind the wheel you feel immediately at home. The Mazda6 Atenza is one such.
There is eight-way power adjustment and lumbar support for the driver’s seat. And, with height-and-reach adjustment for the multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, the perfect driving position takes just seconds to dial in.
There is also electric power assistance for the steering that adjusts its sensitivity to match the driving conditions.
The Atenza’s six-speed automatic transmission is one of the finest, and it‘s a strong 2.2 litre diesel under this bonnet; the 6 can really move along when asked the question.
It feels quick off the mark but the diesel is especially strong when overtaking (that 420Nm of torque also makes it effortless in the hills).
And there are steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles to bring out the sports-driver in you, adding to the fun.
Refinement: Mazda has worked hard on NVH – noise, vibration and harshness – for the new model. The window seals have been revised, so too the body insulation and suspension mounts and there is new floor matting below.
Mazda claims cabin-noise reduction of up to 25 percent, and, while the figure is hard to confirm, we can report that this is much quieter and more refined drive than previous 6s.
We should also mention the refinement of the turbo-diesel engine. It’s right up there with Europe’s best and is actually quieter and more refined than the Mazda6 petrol models.
Ride and handling: There are revised underpinnings below with new front-and-rear dampers and lighter but stiffer front MacPherson-strut and rear multi-link suspension.
This can be felt at low-speed, but most noticeable is the high-speed stability.
Pushed hard into corners the 6 sits nice and flat, with a distinct sporting feel. It might not be a sports sedan but it’s pretty darn good, and goes where it’s pointed.
Some may find the ride a bit on the firm side on some road surfaces, but it’s better than many of its European competitors for composure and isolation from poorer road surfaces.
Braking: There is good brake-pedal feel and confident stopping-power from 297mm ventilated discs at the front and 278mm solid discs at the rear.
ANCAP rating: The 2015 Mazda6 range carries over its predecessor’s 5-Star credentials and the test score of 35.44 points out of a possible 37 is right up there.
Safety features: Also impressive is the car’s suite of standard safety features, including adaptive LED headlights, front, side and curtain airbags, ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, dynamic stability control, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning, driver-attention monitoring and blind-spot monitoring.
Also on the safety-kit list is an emergency-stop signal, hill-launch assist, forward-obstruction warning, front-and-rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, smart brake support, rear cross-traffic alert and forward-and-reverse smart city brake support.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years unlimited kilometres but you can buy an extended warranty that adds another 12 months.
Service costs: The capped-price service regime for the Atenza diesel covers 16 services ranging from the first 10,000 km to 160,000km.
Base prices excluding maintenance items such as filters, oil and fluids range from $319 to $387.
Additional scheduled maintenance items such as brake-fluid replacement (every two years or 40,000km), diesel-fuel-filter replacement (every 40,000km), cabin-air-filter replacement (every 40,000km) and engine-air-filter replacement (every 60,000km), are $60, $91, $64 and $100 respectively.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Volkswagen Passat 130TDI ($44,990) – With its two-litre 120kW/350Nm TDI engine, the Mazda diesel produces more power and torque: 129kW/420Nm.
Also, despite its smaller engine capacity, the Passat’s combined fuel-economy figure of 5.6 l/100km is a shade thirstier than the Mazda’s 5.4 l/100km. (See Passat reviews)
Ford Mondeo Titanium diesel ($46,990) – The new model Mondeo (announced for Australia this week) bests the Mazda6 diesel’s power and torque output.
It promises to be a worthy contender, but the old model is also a very good drive. There is sure be some great run-out deals to be had at your local Ford dealer if you’re shopping in this segment. (See Mondeo reviews)
Hyundai i40 Premium CRDi ($45,590) – This Korean offering has the smallest engine of the three – at 1.7 litres – and its 100kW/320Nm figures are at the modest end. The stylish i40’s fuel figure of 6.0 l/100km is also the worst of the three, but there are just margins in it. (See i40 reviews)
Note all prices are Manufacturers’ List Price and do not include dealer-delivery and on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
We at The Motor Report have been fans of the current-shape Mazda6 since it first arrived on our shores three years ago.
This updated model might look much the same but feels a smoother, quieter car, and, like most of the rest of the range, the range-topping diesel Atenza comes with a $440 price cut.
As the flagship model for the Mazda range, the 6 is the most elegant expression of the Japanese brand’s ‘Kodo’ design philosophy.
With outstanding build quality, beautiful coachwork and a long list of standard features, it’s not hard to see why the Mazda6 remains Australia’s best-selling imported medium-size car.
The upgraded 2015 version will make it harder for the challengers to knock the 6 off its pedestal. It’s a car you will like and one we confidently recommend.