First Drive: Mazda 6



Mazda first launched its third-generation 6 model for the 2014 model year, and has now updated it – for the second time – for 2017.

With a host of new technologies, the 6 is looking to become one of the leading options in the D-segment, but can it usurp more popular models such as Ford's Mondeo or the Volkswagen Passat?
AOL Cars heads to Barcelona to find out...

What is it?

At first glance not much appears to have changed from the model's predecessor, but a quick glance at the updated engine spec shows the reason behind the new 6.
The manufacturer's take on torque distribution– Mazda's G-Vectoring Control – makes a debut on the D-segment model and promises to smooth corners and improve driving satisfaction. Meanwhile, new systems within the pre-existing Skyactiv-D powertrains reduce engine noise, while delivering added responsiveness.

What's under the bonnet?

A 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D unit sits proudly under the bonnet, featuring the aforementioned new tech.
One of these new systems is a Natural Sound Smoother – a small damper placed in the hollow part of each piston pin, which works to reduce noise from the diesel powertrain. It's not new for Mazda, but it is the first time it has been seen in this engine, and it makes the powerful diesel sound much calmer.
The GVC system, meanwhile, gives the Mazda6 a smoother and more stable drive than ever before. It does so by utilizing engine torque to generate deceleration g-force, which in turn shifts the load to car's driven front wheels, increasing front tyre grip to boost responsiveness. Providing the driver maintains a constant angle through the bend, the GVC then restores acceleration engine torque, transferring the load back to the rear wheels.

What's the spec like?

In the SE-L Nav trim, the Mazda 6 features a host of technology as standard, making it not only comfortable to drive, but safe and practical too. Among this technology is a forward-sensing camera, and a clever driver monitoring system, which works as speeds above 40mph and alerts motorists to take a rest if it detects a behaviour change.
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Any rivals?

Rivals to the Mazda 6 include the Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat. However, with the impressive new technology, host of equipment (in SE-L Nav trim) and its striking looks, the 6 provides an alternative to the much more commonplace models.

What's it like to drive?

Mazda claims the GVC system improves passenger comfort at high speeds, and requires fewer steering corrections to keep on path. This is easily seen, as the model is noticeably stable on motorways and A-roads. Combined with the comfortable ride and low cabin noise – thanks to the Natural Sound Smoother – the Mazda6 is a recommendable long distance drive.

AOL Cars verdict

Thanks to this extensive new engine tech the Mazda 6 has become one of the most technologically equipped in its price range. However, on looks alone, the 2017 Mazda6 would not be worth the premium over any previous guise.

THE KNOWLEDGE:

Model: Mazda6 Tourer SE-L Nav GVC
Price: £24,795
Engine: 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D
Power: 150hp
0-60mph: 9.2secs
Max speed: 130mph
MPG: 67.3mpg
Emissions: 110g/km
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