Facelifted Mazda6 family favourite proves a refreshing change
A new engine, facelift and driving upgrades have refreshed the dynamic appeal and styling of the flagship family Mazda6, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
With a trend for down-sizing to smaller turbo engines, Mazda adopted its Skyactiv programme of maximising the efficiency of larger petrol powertrains.
At the launch of the revised Mazda6, it reiterated it is dedicated to cleaning up the internal combustion engine – by 2030 it aims to cut emissions to 50pc of 2010 engine levels and 90pc by 2050.
The next-generation Skyactiv X engines will be extra lean, burning all the fuel, with strong low-down power and diesel-like fuel economy. Next year Mazda plans a mild hybrid petrol powertrain, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle two years later and in between its second-generation diesels.
But, for now, the facelifted Mazda6 introduces a new petrol engine, which shuts down two cylinders to save fuel and cut emissions, and tweaks existing units.
Looks and image
The Mazda6 saloon and Tourer are lookers, particularly the estate, and the flagship range has been given a makeover with a new grille set deeper into the surround, revised LED headlights, redesigned bumpers, a remodelled saloon boot lid and new alloy wheels.
There’s also a three-layer crystal metallic version of Mazda’s signature Soul Red paint which is brighter, deeper but pricey at £800.
Blink and you may miss the exterior facelift but you can’t miss the more upmarket cabin ambience and upgraded fascia and technology.
It oozes quality with new tactile, soft materials, redesigned dashboard and door trims, larger eight-inch display screen for the intuitive, responsive infotainment system and a full-colour head-up display projecting key information on the windscreen.
Under the bonnet
The new 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation – used in CX-5 and CX-9 in some global markets – in range-topping GT Sport Nav+ (the plus denotes these models have undergone the new, more realistic emissions and MPG Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).
This new unit, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, is naturally-aspirated like the upgraded 145 and 165PS 2.0-litre petrol engines. Without the low-down pull of turbo units, it needs to be worked hard to feel brisk, getting vocal, but cruises quietly at motorway speeds but, unfortunately, switches off two cylinders only between 25 and 50mph which helps urban driving. Even so, it returned nearly 40mpg.
Diesel is still big for Mazda6 with the popular 150PS 2.2-litre turbo unit while a more tuned version sees power up from 175 to 184PS.
How it drives
Mazda has a reputation for fine-driving cars and the 6 is no exception – refined but entertaining enough to reward keen drivers, cornering confidently and flatly with decent feel from the light steering.
The suspension benefits from fine-tuning, improved damping and upgraded parts for a smoother ride but it’s a little knobbly on poor roads at low speed.
Space and comfort
Short or tall people will have no issues with the driving position, nor will tall passengers complain about legroom, front or back, or seat comfort, especially in the saloon with its 65mm longer wheelbase. But they might find rear headroom tight with the sloping roof.
The saloon’s 480-litre boot is useful but not as practical as hatchback rivals despite standard 60/40 split rear seat backs which fold flat via levers in the boot.
If you need a more versatile load-lugger, the Tourer has a 522-litre load bay, rising to 1,664 litres with the rear seats down.
Extra soundproofing and measures to reduce vibration add to the overall refinement.
Available in SE-L Nav+, SE-L Lux Nav+, Sport Nav+ and GT Sport Nav+, all models are well kitted out.
SE-L Lux Nav+ onwards feature leather seats, powered and heated front seats and steering wheel, reversing camera while Sport Nav+ trim adds smart keyless entry, Premium Bose surround sound and a wiper de-icing system.
The safety pack, £800 on Sport Nav+ and standard on GT Sport Nav+, adds a 360-degree camera, adaptive LED headlights, automatic reverse braking if there is a risk of hitting something and driver attention alert.
The large family car market has been hit by the SUV sales surge and demise of diesel but this mild makeover helps keep the Mazda6 in contention.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Mazda6 Tourer 2.5 GT Sport Nav+ £31,695 (range from £23,195 to £33,585)
Engine: 2,488cc, 194PS, four-cylinder petrol with six-speed automatic gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 8.1 seconds; top speed 139mph
MPG: Urban 31.7; extra urban 50.4; combined 41.5
CO2 emissions: 156g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 32pc
Insurance group: 29A (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,805mm (saloon 4,870mm); W (excluding door mirrors) 1,840mm; H 1,480mm (saloon 1,450mm)