One of my favourites places in Ireland is Achill Island and I am lways looking for an excuse to return. When a new Mazda6 Tourer came my way, plans were immediately set in motion. My base, the Mulranny Park Hotel, is ideally situated within striking distance of Westport and Achill itself. Sure, the scenery of the Wild Atlantic Way is legendary, but so too are many of the roads for putting a car through its paces and the one that winds it way to the stunning Keem Strand is certainly amongst my favourite driving routes.
We have had the Mazda6 in some form for some 16 years and there have been a number of refreshes and the latest lifts it to new heights in terms of both styling and added technology. Earlier this year when I attended the launch of the latest versions both Saloon and Tourer, one important engine was then not available- the SKYACTIV-G 2.2 litre diesel with a handy 184PS. So this time, I was delighted that my Tourer had that same unit under the bonnet. Performance is bright and the slick changing six speed manual transmission is in perfect harmony with the engine. The SKYACTIV engine performance has been boosted and behind the wheel the handling has been improved. Something which I did observe, especially on some of the minor roads which I encountered, was less road noise than previous versions. The latest update is without doubt the most comprehensive yet, offering enhanced quality in almost every detail.
The new Mazda6 benefits in no small way from a more mature, elegant and refined exterior design and extensive interior revisions including completely new seating, which I can say I found very comfy as did my fellow passenger. 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 on the road 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 share 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. All of the controls fall to hand and instrumentation is crystal clear and I was delighted to have the heads up display.
There is wide use of new materials and technology moves up a gear which will delight all who appreciate connectivity, the latter is demanded more and more, not just by the younger driver but by many of more senior years.
The interior spells luxury and highlights include a larger eight-inch centre display screen. The 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.
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 Tourer as I discovered has a very generous load area and 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.
The Mazda6 with two distinct bodystyles delivers maximum customer and for me, my money would go with the Tourer. On the subject of driving routes in Ireland, I highly recommend “Drive Ireland” penned by Bob Montgomery and published by Dreoilin Publications. The author describes it as a personal guide to driving Ireland’s best roads and most interesting places. It is a must for exploring Ireland. On my next visit to Mayo I intend to visit the Silver Strand which looks towards Inishturk and Inishbofin and is 25 kilometres south of Louisburgh. It has been described as the most beautiful beach on the West Coast of Ireland!