The mid-size Mazda6 has always been the better looking and handling car of its segment. The latest generation has taken that to a new level in terms of technology, efficiency, dynamics and design, thanks to Mazda’s clever SkyActiv technology that underpins the 6.
To keep it at the pointy end of the medium segment, Mazda gave its stylish 6 a mid-life update last year, bringing a rejigged exterior, along with a restyled dashboard and new features.
To further enhance its appeal, the 6 received an assortment of Mazda’s i-Activsense safety technologies earlier this year that bring Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, auto dimming rear-view mirror and Smart City Brake Support as standard.
The 2016 Mazda6 is offered in four variants – Sport, Touring, GT and range-topping Atenza – in petrol or diesel and sedan or wagon body style. Prices start from $32,490 plus on-road costs for the Sport, and work its way up to $49,540 +ORC for the 6 Atenza Wagon Diesel.
Our test car is a Touring petrol sedan, which according to Mazda, is the most popular configuration at $37,290 +ORC.
Design and Comfort
Despite making its local debut in late 2012, the Mazda6 is still one of the best looking cars on the market today.
The 2015 facelift freshens up Mazda’s flagship even further. The fins on the front grille now create a signature wing that reaches out into the headlights, which features a feline-like LED daytime driving lights.
At the back, the new LED lighting signature gives the rear a sharper, more premium look.
And while the exterior is a triumph, the most impressive update of all is in the car’s bold new interior.
A freestanding 7-inch touchscreen now stands proudly in the centre of the redesigned dash, controlled by an intuitive rotary knob behind the six-speed automatic shifter. It features Mazda’s MZD Connect system that when paired with a smartphone, brings internet connectivity and access to social network.
The centre console, too, has been rearranged, thanks to the introduction of an electric parking brake and is now less cluttered and more premium.
The lightweight contoured seats are also new and are designed to reduce fatigue while providing a sporty wrap-around feel. It features 8-way power adjustments and together with a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, it’s not hard to find a comfortable driving position in the 6.
Black leather upholstery is standard on all models bar the entry-level Sport. It is complemented by brown leather trim on the doors, dash and centre console to lift cabin ambience.
A new-look instrument panel with clear gauges rounds up the successful interior makeover. The only complaint we have is the lack of a digital speed readout which is a major oversight.
There’s plenty of rear seat legroom, along with a generous array of stowage options. Further aback, there’s 474 litres of boot space accessed via a wide opening or through the 60:40 split rear seats.
Performance and Handling
Mazda has focused most of its attention on improving the 6’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, which has long been a bugbear for the brand’s vehicles.
Happily, the engineers have done a great job. Mostly.
The 2.5-litre naturally aspirated (a rarity these days), direct-injected four-cylinder SkyActive engine settles into a muted idle that occasionally have you double-checking whether you have hit the start button. It can can sound a little whiny at low revs on take off, but responds with pleasing induction noise at higher rpms (beyond 3,800rpm).
With 138kW at 5,700rpm and 250Nm at 3,250rpm on tap, the petrol engine delivers decent pace and drives through a smooth shifting 6-speed automatic. Those used to turbocharged engines might miss the low-end torque of the boosted mills but they will soon delight in the SkyActiv mill’s linear response.
The transmission’s shift points are well calibrated and kicks down briskly when required, making enthusiastic driving an enjoyable pursuit. There’s also a pair of flappy paddles for even greater driver engagement.
The 6 feels nimble for its size. Its electric power steering is responsive, accurate and has a decent approximation of feel.
The car’s suspension is well-judged and strikes a great balance between comfort and handling, while the brakes have a consistent feel. Body movements are also well contained, with a composed handling at all speeds.
Our 17-inch-wheeled test car (shod with 225/55 R17 tyres) tackles most road imperfections with aplomb, although there is noticeable front suspension thumps over high frequency bumps especially at low speeds, which mars the 6’s otherwise newfound refinement.
As expected from Hiroshima, the Mazda6 is immaculately built. Panel gaps are tight with all trims and materials feeling first rate.
The leather-clad dashboard and centre console further elevate the sense of quality and feel of the car.
The only complaints are the Bose sound system which lacks punch and the voice recognition system that, curiously, doesn’t work as well as the one in the MX-5.
Mazda’s excellent SkyActiv technology mean’s the 6’s 2.5-litre engine is one of the most fuel efficient in its class. With a high 13:1 compression ratio, the aspirated mill returned an impressive combined fuel consumption of 7.0L/100km on test.
With a little more compassion on the throttle pedal, it is possible to extract an even lower figure.
Equipment and Features
The Mazda6 is competitively equipped. Standard features include LED headlamps, daytime running lamps and front fog lamps (except Sport model), electric leather upholstered front seats with driver’s memory (except Sport model), dual-zone climate control, one touch up and down power windows and 7-inch colour touchscreen with MZD Connect and embedded satellite navigation.
On the safety front, six airbags, ABS, stability control front and rear parking sensors (except Sport model), Blind Sport Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart City Brake Support – Forward and reverse camera are all standard.
Design and Comfort: 8.0/10
Performance and Handling: 8.0/10
Equipment and Features: 7.5/10
Mazda has made what is good even better with its running upgrades. The Mazda6’s driving experience remains at the pointy end of the segment, with a sense of engagement and involvement that is rare in its class.
It delivers impressive space and economy, while the safety equipment upgrade also makes it safer than ever before.
However, there’s still room for improvement. While better, Mazda’s engineers could learn a trick or two from the Volkswagen Passat for its class leading refinement.
- Light and agile handling
- Impressive fuel economy
- Spacious and well built
- Engine can be vocal and high revs
- Refinement could be better
- No digital speed readout
2016 Mazda6 Touring Petrol Sedan pricing and specification
|Price (Excluding on-road costs):||From $37,290|
As tested: $37,290
|Warranty:||3 years/unlimited kilometres|
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||Not available|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/10,000km|
|Engine:||2.5-litre SkyActiv-G aspirated, direct-injected four-cylinder petrol with stop/start:|
138kW @ 5,700rpm, 250Nm @ 3,250rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||97.5|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 6.6 / Tested: 7.0|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||62|
|Body:||4-doors, 5 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 6 airbags, ABS, Blind Spot Monitoring, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, EBD, BA, LED daytime running lights, Emergency Stop Signal, Hill Launch Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart City Brake Support – Forward, reverse camera, ISOFIX|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,865 / 1,840 / 1,450 / 2,830|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,469 – 1,471|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 1,500 / Unbraked: 550|
|Entertainment:||7-inch colour touch screen with MZD Connect, CD Player, internet radio integration, satellite navigation, USB/AUX/iPod input, Premium Bose 231 watt, 11-speakers sound system|
Competitors: Ford Mondeo, Holden Malibu, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima, Peugeot 408, Renault Latitude, Skoda Superb, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat