ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE NEW MAZDA6

The Mazda6 has been around for about 16 years and has had number of refreshes and the latest lifts this popular Saloon and Tourer to new heights in terms of styling and added technology.

Recently I had the opportunity to try both a Saloon version and the stylish Tourer and Mazda provided excellent routes over roads not too far removed from what we have here in Ireland. Amongst the highlights is a new 2.5 litre petrol engine; which I sampled along with a two litre petrol.

I would have liked to have tried the 2.2 litre diesel, but I will have to wait for that. Diesel fans will be delighted to learn that a SKYACTIV-G 2.2 litre has a potent 184PS; this is likely to be extremely popular throughout Ireland.

The well known Mazda trim levels such as, SE-L Nav+, SE-L LUX Nav+, Sport Nav+ and GT Sport Nav+ and the new 2.5 litre unit is exclusive to the new range-topping GT Sport Nav+ trim. This unit delivers sporty performance, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 8.1 seconds (10.9 seconds with the two litre).

Deactivation is a direct-injection four-cylinder engine which seamlessly switches between four and two-cylinder operation to improve real-world fuel economy at no cost to performance.

Looking at economy and these are Mazda figures, on the combined cycle, 14.9 kpl (45.6mpg) for the two litre and 16.4kpl (42.2mpg) for the large petrol; engine.

Already available in Mazda CX-9 SUV, and CX-5 in certain global markets, the newcomer makes its UK debut in the new Mazda6 where it is paired with Mazda’s SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic gearbox in both Saloon and Tourer models.

The familiar styling has been with us since 2014 and this latest refresh adopts a fresh frontal design majoring around a new grille, which has the mesh positioned deeper within the surround to create a more sophisticated and muscular face. This gives the car a more muscular look with added inroad presence

The revised LED headlamps integrate signature wing tips from grille surround to underscore their predator style, while the redesigned lower bumper features a sleeker profile and an aerodynamically efficient air intake.

The Saloon has a remodeled boot lid, while both the Saloon and Tourer feature cleaner rear bumper styling with more body coloured areas.

Adding further to the overall package, new alloy wheel designs and the introduction of Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint, which thanks to Mazda’s unique three-layer TAKUMINURI painting technology increases brightness by approximately 20 per cent and depth by 50 per cent, compared to the previous Soul Red Metallic paint.

For me the major changes come to the well appointed cabin, a pleasing environment for both driver and passengers.

There is wide use of new materials and technology moves up a gear which will delight all who appreciate connectivity on the move. Crystal clear instrumentation further adds to being behind the wheel.

The interior spells luxury and highlights include a larger eight-inch centre display screen and the adoption of a full colour windscreen projected Active Driving Display. The latter is ideal for keeping an eye on speed.

Dashboard has been redesigned and comfy seating adds further to driving pleasure and should you elect to purchase the flagship GT sport Nav+ you are welcomed with Nappa leather.

On the road the ride is firm, yet comfort for all on board is not compromised, achieved by suspension fine tuning and component upgrades. Bump stop characteristics have been revised, the front dampers have increased in diameter and rebound springs have been added, while a new urethane rear damper top mount has been fitted, all resulting in smoother vehicle behaviour and improved ride quality.

Steering knuckles have been lowered for more neutral steering characteristics, while to ensure a more precise response to subtle steering wheel actions, rigid mounts now attach the steering gear to the suspension cross-member.

We all appreciate low noise levels and again Mazda has risen to the challenge, the result is a car with which you can enjoy and indulge in the entertainment system.

All versions feature a huge range of advanced i-ACTIVESENSE technology including Blind Spot Monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist etc.

The Saloon permits five to travel in comfort while the Tourer with its very generous load area

is sure to prove a hit with families, those with active lifestyles and the business user. Boot space is 480 litres and with the Tourer a maximum of 1,664 litres.

By providing two distinct bodystyles customer choice is widened and if I had to choose, my money would be with the Tourer, outguns the competition from Audi and BMW in the styling department.

Ian Lynas