All-new third-generation Mazda6 comes with luxury specs

Mazda has a new offering for buyers wanting a medium-size quality car. Its Mazda6, a popular staple of the make in this country in various forms since the 626, arrived in showrooms in an all-new third-generation model to take on others in its segment such as the Honda Accord, Subaru Liberty, Kia Optima, Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.

After a year in which the smaller Mazda3 was Australia’s most popular new vehicle, the Mazda6 aims to do its bit for the company’s fortunes with a thoroughly modern sedan and station wagon. The new model is more powerful, more economical, lighter, stronger, safer, better equipped and is said to be roomier inside. It comes with a 2.5 litre petrol engine or 2.2 diesel, both with six-speed automatic transmissions using fingertip-paddle shifters. The 138 kiloWatt petrol is available with four trim and equipment grades called Sport, Touring, GT and Atenza. The 129kW diesel comes only in the top three grades. But along with all the improvements also come higher prices. The cheapest Mazda6, the petrol sedan, goes from $31,450 to $33,460, plus on-road costs. Entry price for diesel power is $40,350 for the Touring sedan variant. Choosing the wagon adds $1300 across the range.

The Mazda6 is a handsome vehicle, but the real advances are under the shapely skin. The engines feature Mazda’s so-called SKYACTIV fuel-saving technology, in this case including idle-stop and re-start and brake energy re-generation of the electrical system. In other words, the engine switches itself off when idling in traffic and energy captured from the brakes during braking is fed back into the electrical system.

Occupant safety is improved with a better body structure incorporating more side-impact protection. Those outside the car, such as pedestrians and cyclists, benefit from more cushioned bonnet and front bumper designs. There’s a host of intelligent safety features available, depending on the model chosen. Representing a specification as good as many luxury cars are radar cruise control, “smart” braking that monitors the speed of vehicles in front, lane-departure warning, emergency-flashing indicators, automatic high-low headlight switching, cornering headlamps and hill-start automatic braking.

The interior offers a choice in upper-level models of black or off-white leather, an 11-speaker Bose audio system, eight-way driver’s seat electric adjustment and a colour touch-screen on the dash that displays text, MMS messages and emails from Bluetooth-connected smart phones.

Prices quoted do not include statutory and dealer on-road charges unless otherwise stated. Prices correct at time of writing.