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Car reviews - Mazda - Mazda6

Our Opinion

We like
Subtle styling tweaks, turbo-petrol performance, ride quality, interior upgrade, value for money
Room for improvement
Cramped second row, did not get to sample updated diesel

Mazda gives the Mazda6 a significant final overhaul and the results are impressive

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Mazda logo31 May 2018

Overview
 
MAZDA has introduced what is likely to be the last major update for the third-generation Mazda6 sedan and wagon range before an all-new model lobs in a couple of years.
 
Rather than give it a typical late-life model year update, Mazda has overhauled the cabin, added a new turbo-petrol engine option, restyled the front end, improved cabin noise levels and thrown a bunch of extra standard gear into the mid-sizer.
 
We sampled the new model in top-spec turbocharged petrol guise at the Australian media launch to see if it is still one of the picks of the mid-size bunch.
 
MAZDA has introduced what is likely to be the last major update for the third-generation Mazda6 sedan and wagon range before an all-new model lobs in a couple of years.
 
Rather than give it a typical late-life model year update, Mazda has overhauled the cabin, added a new turbo-petrol engine option, restyled the front end, improved cabin noise levels and thrown a bunch of extra standard gear into the mid-sizer.
 
We sampled the new model in top-spec turbocharged petrol guise at the Australian media launch to see if it is still one of the picks of the mid-size bunch.
 
Drive impressions
 
Mid-size passenger car sales are declining at a rapid pace because buyers are either downsizing, or shifting into SUVs or dual-cab pick-ups.
 
There appears to be no stopping the exodus from traditional passenger sedans and wagons, which is a shame, because there are some excellent, good-value options in the mid-size segment.
 
Case in point is the Mazda6. The third-generation version became one of the picks of the bunch when it launched in 2012, thanks to its dynamism, style and overall packaging.
 
Five and a half years into its life cycle, Mazda has introduced what is expected to be the final major overhaul before it is replaced by a new-gen version in about 2020, and it has ensured the 6 goes out with a bang.
 
Not content with just upping standard spec or making small tweaks to the cabin, Mazda has given the 6 its most significant upgrade since launch.
 
Mazda has restyled the front end, using the Vision Coupe concept from last year’s Tokyo show as an inspiration, and the changes are subtle, but effective. 
 
The overall look at the front is smoother and less fussy than before, while the fresh tail-lights on the sedan – the wagon’s are also updated but not as dramatic – also help to update the 6.
 
Not that it needed much of a visual refresh. The silhouette of the Mazda6 is as fresh today as it was in 2012 in both sedan and wagon guise.
 
At the media launch in Ballarat last week, we only sampled the flagship Atenza sedan and wagon paired with the much-hyped new 2.5-litre turbo-petrol engine from the CX-9.
 
The Atenza 2.5T sedan retails for $47,690 excluding on-road costs (the wagon adds $1300 to the price) and is packed with loads of goodies, including a new hi-tech head-up display that, thankfully, replaces the cheap and nasty flip up plastic version of the old model.
 
At this price point, the Mazda6 is edging into Volkswagen Passat Highline territory ($47,990) and it’s within spitting distance of entry-level offerings in the premium mid-size segment, such as the Infiniti Q50 ($54,900), Audi A4 ($56,100) and soon-to-be-replaced Volvo S60 ($49,990).
 
However, Mazda offers a bucket load of comfort, convenience and safety kit as standard that the premium offerings can’t match.
 
One of the biggest changes to the Mazda6 is the all-new dash, console and door inserts that help to give the 6 a thoroughly modern feel. It is a minimal, clean look that ensures the new 6 has the most visually appealing and modern cabin in the current Mazda range.
 
In Atenza guise, the 6 has subtle wood panels and felt-like ‘Ultrasuede’ touches on the door and dash. On the drive, we described the look and feel as simple elegance, which sums it up pretty well.
 
Combined with newly-designed seats that feature new cushioning and materials, Mazda is nailing the semi-premium vibe perfectly.
 
The rear seat leg and headroom remains just average for the segment and the sunroof impacts the space.
 
Arguably the most significant change is that 170kW/420Nm four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that is available in GT and Atenza grades. The lower grade Sport and Touring make do with a revised version of the carryover 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol donk, while an updated version of the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel is offered on Touring, GT and Atenza.
 
The new powertrain was the only 6 variant available on the launch so we could not directly compare the turbo to the original 2.5. Stay tuned for future GoAuto road tests on the diesel too.
 
The turbo impressed under the bonnet of the CX-9 seven-seat SUV and is a top match for the 6’s chassis.
 
It’s not blisteringly quick off the line, but performance in a straight line is strong, and there is virtually no turbo lag – Mazda has definitely beaten its Euro rivals on this front.
 
Flooring the front-drive 6 from a standing start produces torque steer, but the traction and stability control keep everything in check.
 
The 6 has always had a comfortable ride while offering engaging dynamics and that has not changed.
 
The ride is composed and when it’s pushed hard to corners, the 6 proves why it is one of the more appealing mid-sizers on the market.
 
Unsealed roads, loose road surfaces and corrugations failed to upset the 6, even at speed, and the steering is sharp with a neutral feel – it’s not too heavy or too light.
 
On our extensive drive loop we recorded a combined fuel figure of 8.5 litres per 100km, which is more than the 7.6L/100 official figure – but we were pushing the 6 hard, so that’s no surprise.
 
Mazda has added more insulating materials and employed other measures to improve noise, vibration and harshness levels, lowering cabin noise. 
 
Without a back-to-back comparison, it can be difficult to tell how successful the measure are, but it does seem slightly quieter in the cabin than before.
 
Mazda has worked hard in recent years to address cabin noise, which has been a key criticism of virtually all of its models. Every little bit helps.
 
All of the changes to the Mazda6 – the punchier engine, more standard gear, a dramatically improved cabin and appealing design tweaks – add up to improve what was already one of the best mid-size cars on offer in Australia.
 
If you are looking at a family SUV or even an entry-level premium mid-size sedan, add the Mazda6 to your test drive list because it ticks a hell of a lot of boxes.
Model release date: 1 May 2018

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