Mazda has unveiled its new 6 saloon at the 2012 Moscow motor show – a nod to the significance of the Eastern European markets for the Japanese car maker. This third-generation Mazda 6 will be the second model in Mazda’s line-up to feature both its suite of innovative SkyActiv drivetrain and chassis technologies and the company’s ‘Kodo – Soul of Motion’ design language.
That’s a clunky design title, but the new 6 is anything but - it’s a handsome looking car in our eyes, and takes its riffs from the Mazda Takeri concept first seen at the 2011 Tokyo motor show. Its sleek and coherent design – check out that neat nose, rakish profile and chunky 19-inch alloys – that makes many of its rivals look flabby and bland. And with a claimed class-leading drag coefficient of Cd 0.26, it’s aerodynamically efficient, too.
New Mazda 6: the bodystyles
Interestingly, Mazda has dropped the popular hatch from the line-up, claiming the saloon is sleek enough and versatile enough with its 40:60 split rear seat to replace it, a move that could cause a spot of bother for company car drivers in the hatch-loving UK market.
The 6 rides on the company’s versatile SkyActiv architecture, with a MacPherson strut front and rear multi-link rear suspension layout and economy-enhancing electrically assisted steering. Greater use of high-tensile steels has bolstered torsional rigidity and lowered weight. The petrol-powered 2.0-litre manual saloon weighs in at 1,340kg which compares well to the 1,435kg posted by the outgoing equivalent engined hatchback.
Despite this weight loss, the 6 is slightly bigger. Its wheelbase has grown by 105mm to 2,830mm – the saloon is now 4,800mm long saloon, compared to the outgoing hatch’s 4,755mm – and the front axle has been pushed forward 100mm ahead of the A-pillar to both reduce the front overhang and boost accommodation space front and rear.
Inside the new Mazda 6
Mazda promises that the tactility of the driver-touch materials and overall quality of the cabin design will be a dramatic step forward compared to the current car. NVH levels – a bugbear of the current range – have also been tackled. Safety features include Rear Vehicle Monitoring, Smart City Brake Support and Adaptive Front Lighting with High-Beam Control.
As well as the now-familiar SkyActiv suite of economy-enhancing technologies, the new 6 ushers in its regenerative braking system - i-ELOOP. The system captures what would be lost kinetic energy when the driver lifts off the throttle and charges a high-capacity double-layer capacitor via a 12-25Volt variable voltage alternator.
The capacitor, housed ahead of the front left wheel, then uses the stored energy to power other electrical systems – climate control, headlamps, infotainment – lessening the overall burden on the engine. A DC/DC converter steps down the electricity from 25V to 12V so it can be used for the vehicle's electrical components. Mazda engineers talk of a 10% boost in economy as a result, but the i-ELOOP will not be standard on all UK models.
While the 6 was unveiled in Russia with 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre Skyactive-G petrol engines, the latter aimed squarely at the Russian market, it will be the Skyactive-D turbo diesel engine that will be have the bigger appeal in the UK and Europe. Borrowed from the CX-5 crossover, the smooth and muscular 2.0-litre units has outputs of 148bhp or 173bhp, and will be available with six-speed Skyactiv-MT manual or Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmissions.
Mazda 6 estate too
The estate version is scheduled for a Paris Motor Show debut later this year, with both saloon and estate arriving in the UK before Christmas. There’s no word on pricing yet, but our insiders claim Mazda UK is working hard against the strength of the Yen for a £20,000 kick-off price. Full 12 month sales for both estate and saloon are expected around the 8,000 mark, with petrol sales expected to be relatively strong against those of the diesel, due to its low CO2 levels.