An all-new version of Mazda's flagship model, the 6. In common with other cars launched over the last 18 months or so, it boasts better fuel economy and emissions figures than its predecessor; is lighter; and is bristling with lots of clever tech. It's stylish and roomy too.
Mazda say they have designed it specifically with tall people in mind. As a lanky six-footer, I like that. But will it get UK punters zoom-zooming down to Mazda dealerships to get their hands on one? Here's what we made of it.
What is it?
It's completely new, that's the first and most important point. The third incarnation of the 6 is available as a saloon and tourer (no change there) but it is in fact a totally fresh vehicle, from the tread on its tyres to the displays on its dash. It's got a sleek, assured new look, and is very aerodynamic and safe. Mazda has worked like mad to try to build a world-beater here and the early signs are that they might be on a roll. It's hoped the car will pick up awards around the globe, and it's made a good start by being voted car of the year in Switzerland. So they're on a Swiss roll at the very least.
Mazda's range of high-efficiency Skyactiv powertrains includes two petrol engines and two diesels paired to six-speed automatic or manual transmissions. Skyactiv-G petrol engines include the 2.0-litre 145ps and the 2.0-litre 165ps both producing 210Nm at 4,000rpm. Skyactiv-D diesel engines include the 2.2 litre 150ps producing 380Nm at 1,800-2,600rpm and the 2.2-litre 175ps producing 420Nm at 2,000rpm. If all that makes little or no sense to you, they're clean and efficient engines that won't damage your pocket – or the planet – too much.
What's the kit like?
There are plenty of bells and whistles that will appeal to potential purchasers. All cars in the range have standard features such as an engine stop-start button; front and rear power windows; door-mirrors with integrated indicator lights; integrated Bluetooth and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter. The mid-range models feature things like privacy glass; dusk-sensing lights; additional speakers and so on – with 19-inch alloys; Bi-Xenon headlights (including LED day running lights); and a reversing camera reserved for cars in the 'SE-L Nav' category. There are two other nifty bits of kit worth a mention, too. i-ELOOP is a clever brake energy regeneration system; and i-stop is Mazda's version of the engine stop-start technology found on a host of cars these days.
The C/D segment is a pretty crowded place to be and Mazda face some tough competition. The company will be targeting buyers who might otherwise be tempted by the charms of the Ford Mondeo, VW Passat and Peugeot 508. Mazda edges it over that trio in terms of style and sportiness.
Is it any good?
In a word – yes – but I must add two caveats. Firstly, I am a bit of a fan. I have a four-year-old second-generation version of the car sitting on my driveway at home and I owned an 05-plate model before that. Secondly, this review is written with me having driven the two-litre, petrol-powered, manual version of the car only so far. There's no doubt it was a smooth, refined drive, with a peach of a gearbox, wonderful visibility for the driver and front-seat passenger, and exceptional clarity of the information displayed on the dashboard all impressing. Was the blind spot warning light a touch over-sensitive? As I was beginning overtaking manoeuvres it was flashing at me even if the nearest car was two lanes away.
The AOL Cars verdict
This car is crucial to Mazda. The Japanese manufacturer has spent a while in the doldrums lately, and some dealers have been finding trade rather sluggish. More Zzzz-zzzz than Zoom-Zoom. However, we feel the marque has charisma and character in abundance and could well be about to turn a corner. Their award-winning CX-5 compact crossover has been making friends and influencing people and the evergreen MX-5 has a secure place in the hearts of many a roadster fan. If Mazda can get their marketing right, and not keep buyers waiting ages for the specifications they want, the new 6 has the potential to do really well for them.
Price: From £19,595
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre petrol with choice of six-speed manual and automatic Skyactiv transmissions
Power: 162bhp 210Nm
Max speed: 130mph 0-60mph: 9.1 seconds
MPG (comb'd): Up to 72mpg
Emissions: From 104 g/km CO2