Mazda’s tweaked 6 sedan packs more safety and comfort, and is still one of the best big sedans around
Meet the new Mazda 6, it looks the same as the old Mazda 6. The extant third-generation big sedan from Hiroshima now gets a mid-life nip tuck, and while the usual ‘same same but different (but still the same)’ rules apply, the car has also made strides in places where it really counts: Safety and comfort.
As typical, you won’t see the visual differences in isolation. But the Mazda 6 has actually evolved quite a bit: The headlights are more angular than round, the chrome of the grille is thicker and blends into the headlights better, while the fog lights become more horizontal as the air intake gains more definition and black surrounds.
It’s Mazda’s improved Kodo design that we first saw on the Mazda CX-3 compact crossover and will also be seeing on the facelifted version of the uber-popular Mazda 3, due in Singapore in March. Like the 3, which gets a new shade of blue, the 6 also has a new colour choice ‘Machine Grey Metallic’ that uses the same paint techniques as seen on the signature Mazda colour, Soul Red Metallic.
There’s much more to get excited about on the inside, and as expected of Mazda, it’s the nut behind the wheel that has the most fun.
The triple binnacle instrument cluster now gains a full colour display for the rightmost face, it was digital monochrome before, and pressing the ‘Info’ button on the steering wheel delivers info on driving, safety systems and so on. The heads-up display also gains colour and improved resolution, and cleverly integrates blind spot indication too as well as another new feature, speed limit detection/indication. If you like your seat in the lowest position, the HUD speedo floats in the tricky-to-see gulf between the windscreen and dashboard, but most people won’t have this problem.
One less fun, though more elegant, feature is that the manual handbrake has disappeared, replaced by a button. Personally it’s something we dislike, but like a sunroof (which this car has) has become a real selling point for most cars.
As before, the Mazda 6 remains a hoot to drive, and it feels even more composed than before thanks to the new G Vectoring Control system, a subtle method of improving the car’s handling and ride dynamics but one that really makes a difference.
There’s very little to fault in terms of chassis and handling, with the lovely leather-covered steering wheel feeling particularly plush, it’s grin-inducing to hustle the 6 through corners quicker and quicker where other Japanese big sedans, or even German ones, would begin to show rough edges.
New active instrument display is slick, almost Porsche-esque. Impressively, the Mazda 6 2.5’s real-life fuel economy is typically twice as efficient as the figure shown
The drivetrain remains the same, with the 2.5-litre engine and six-speed auto. In the era of turbo engines, the naturally-aspirated 2.5 feels sedate below 3,000rpm since peak power comes at 5,700rpm you have to rev it to get going. It’s less instant gratification and more slow burn, but the 6 is by no means a laggard. Even better is the fact that it’s a real fuel-sipper – piling on the revs might imply more fuel consumed but in our 50km drive, the 6 delivered a wonderful sub 7.0/100km score that’s as good as any German.
Facelift comes with a hefty boost in terms of safety equipment including autonomous low-speed braking
Our test drive unit, the Super Luxury, packs all the goodies, and the key plus it has over the ‘non-Super’ Luxury model is Mazda’s new ‘Smart City’ features, comprising Smart City Brake Support. Like Volvo’s City Safety, which was the first of this type of system, it intervenes autonomously (from 4km/h to 30km/h) if it detects you’re about to hit something and have not acted to avoid it, such as driving towards a car in front without lifting off the gas or braking. Mazda’s system also works when reversing.
The Luxury ($144,800 with COE) and Super Luxury have a rear sunshade, lane departure and keeping, LED headlights, Driver Attention Alert. The lesser 2.5 Premium ($137,800 with COE) and 2.0 Executive ($130,800 with COE) variants don’t miss out on much else, although the least expensive 2.0 Standard model ($123,800 with COE) is predictably the least well-equipped.
All in all the 6 has had the sort of facelift we like the best: One that goes easy on cosmetics and heavy on substance – in this case, in technology that improves the car’s already impressive dynamics, while also taking safety up a few notches. It might not have the space of the usual Japanese big ones, but now the 6 can boast it’s not just more fun to drive, but quite a bit cleverer, and safer, too.
Mazda 6 2.5 Super Luxury
Engine 2,488cc, 16V, inline 4
Power 192bhp at 5700rpm
Torque 256Nm at 3250rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 221km/h
0-100km/h 8.2 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.5L/100km
Price $149,800 with COE
Also Consider: Kia Optima, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry