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First look: Makeover for Mazda6

Six appeal: Mazda's medium sedan puts on a happier face.

Mid-size Mazda receives midlife massage as facelifted Mazda6 sedan surfaces

Mazda logo26 Jan 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

A FACELIFTED Mazda6 has gone on sale in Japan today and should be similar to the model that will be released in Australia in late March, following the European version's global debut at the Geneva show on March 2.

Despite being only two years old here, the upgraded mid-size sedan, hatch and wagon range has undergone a thorough cosmetic and mechanical overhaul, which is claimed to deliver improved dynamics, efficiency, refinement and safety.

The revised Six, known as the Atenza in Japan, is distinguished by a new-look corporate face first seen on last year's new Mazda3 and then facelifted CX-7 and CX-9 models.

The fresh front-end includes a new bumper with revised Mazda five-point grille, smiling lower air-dam and outboard diamond-shaped foglight bezels.

Instead of 'floating' on a black grille as before, the Mazda badge is fixed to a single large crossbar, while subtlely different headlights and tail-lights are fitted “for more sportiness and a clearer premium identity”.

22 center imageHighlights of the six-engine range to be available in Europe is a new 2.0-litre DISI direct-injection petrol engine, which Mazda says uses less fuel and produces fewer emissions than the 2.0-litre it replaces.

While there’s no sign of Mazda’s promising new Sky engines due on sale from 2011, the MZR 1.8 and 2.5-litre petrol fours have also been updated, but the latter should still be the only petrol engine available in Australia.

Mazda also promises lower fuel consumption and emissions for the MZR-CD 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, which delivers a hefty 136kW/400Nm and is also available in Europe in two lower-output derivatives.

Chassis-wise, Mazda says updated steering and suspension tuning has resulted in better handling and straight-line stability as well as improved ride comfort, while a new pivoting adaptive front lighting system and hill-launch assist function enhance active safety and convenience.

Completing the mid-life makeover - at least in Europe - are fresh cabin highlights, new-design 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels and two new exterior paint colours: Clear Water Blue Metallic and Midnight Bronze Mica.

There is as yet no replacement for the previous GG-series Mazda6 MPS 2.3 turbo sedan, although other all-wheel drive Mazda6 variants are on offer in Japan – all of which will be compliant with the Super-Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (SU-LEV) standard when fitted with the new MZR 2.0 DISI.

The current GH-series Mazda6 – Australia’s second most popular medium sedan, despite a 14 per cent sales slide in 2009, was released here in February 2008, comprising three body styles, two transmissions and one engine, before the diesel version arrived in December 2008.

Opening the range now is the Limited 2.5 sedan at $28,245, but with Mazda pre-empting this year’s federal import tariff reduction by trimming prices across the board last October – after slashing between $1750 and $3920 off Mazda6 launch prices in July 2008 and then increasing them by $500-$1500 in January 2009, pricing for the 2010 model is anyone’s guess.

Intriguingly, Mazda says the new Six is one of three premieres it will stage at Geneva in a month. With the redesigned Mazda5 people-mover officially announced as one of them last week, Mazda is keeping its powder dry for its final debut – for the moment.

Expected to join the fettled Mazda6 in local showrooms soon after is the new-to-Australia Mazda2 sedan, as part of a new Thai-sourced Mazda2 range that promises sharper prices and/or specifications.

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