The new Mazda 6 diesel is bucking the current trend for downsizing. When every other manufacturer seems intent on reducing engine displacement through turbocharging, Mazda has replaced its 2.0-litre diesel with a 2.2-litre oil burner. The old 138bhp engine is dropped from the UK line-up completely (though it will still be available in certain foreign markets) and in comes the new MZR-CD 2.2 in three states of tune (123, 161 and 183bhp). Read on for CAR’s first drive of the new Mazda 6 diesel.
Why does the Mazda 6 get a big 2.2-litre engine? Is this a Ford engine?
The answer to the latter is no, this engine has nothing to do with the Ford-PSA engines. Mazda, despite its tie-ups with the Blue Oval, is still fiercely independent and because the cash was available, decided to build its own engine.
With a chain-driven balancer shaft, an aluminium-alloy block, an aluminium oil cooler and a plastic cam cover Mazda claims the new 2.2 is only 6kg heavier than the old 2.0-litre. Add in a variable geometry turbo with curved vanes, fuel injection through ten holes per injector at 200MPa, plus a ceramic matrix particulate filter (that Mazda claims is a world first) and you have the promising ingredients for a very good engine.
What are the on-paper figures like?
Over the old car’s 138bhp and 180lb ft you can now have 123bhp/227lb ft, 161bhp/265lb ft or 183bhp/295lb ft. Useful increases, but the fuel economy and emissions figures aren’t actually any better than before.
The 2.0-litre managed 50.4mpg and 147g/km CO2 (49.6 and 149 in estate guise), but the 2.2 can, at best, can only do 51.4mpg and 147g/km, while the 183bhp estate languishes behind with figures of 49.6mpg and 152g/km. Is this progress?
Which model should I pick?
We can’t tell you much about the 123bhp model because that wasn’t available on the launch, but 227lb ft should still prove pretty useful. And from here on in, because diesels are all about torque, we shall refer to the engines by their twist actions outputs.
So, the range-topping 295lb ft engine (183bhp, to those of you that can’t keep up) is refined, smooth and very fast. But in the real world you don’t really need it. Even loaded up with your family the 265lb ft (161bhp) engine will be fast enough. It’s also quieter than its more powerful sibling, suffers less from the ill-affects of torque steer, and we already know it’s cleaner and greener.
Both engines are a little gravely on part throttle, don’t have much go below 2000rpm, but for diesels they sound pretty good homing in on the red line. The only real downside is that all the catalyst and particulate filter stuffed into the exhaust system means it hangs out from under the 6 like a cow’s udder.
What about the rest of the Mazda 6?
Is it just me, or does the 6 look quite cool? It’s not beautiful or stunning – no cars in this class are – but there’s a certain something about the Japanese style of the 6. Some of the detailing on our Sport model was a little fussy – the front bumper and fog lights, for instance – but overall the design is clean and crisp.
Inside it’s much the same, which means a clean and uncluttered dash. Unfortunately, for those used to button-festooned cars this can make the 6’s insides appear rather bland. And you can see where costs have been cut – the passenger’s seat only has a ratchet adjuster for the back and no height adjustment. In sunroof-equipped cars, with an already high-set seat, it means headroom is actually quite tight.
The rest of the Mazda 6 is as before, with light steering but instant turn-in, while big 18-inch wheels on our Sport model meant the 6 hung on gamely on the twisty roads of our Majorcan test route.
The launch of the new 2.2 diesel also gave Mazda a chance to show off its Rear Vehicle Monitoring System, or RVM for short. Essentially it’s a blind-spot warning system that will be fitted on mid-spec TS2 models and upwards when the new cars go on sale in January 2009. (Prices have yet to be announced but expect an increase to compensate for the new engine and blind spot system.) RVM works well, illuminating an orange light on the A-pillar (above 40mph) if any car if on your left or right. Try to switch lanes when the light is on and it’ll blink and beep at you.
There’s only one problem. To make sure the system can pick up any high-speed approaching traffic two radars in the rear bumper track cars from 50 metres back, so on anything other than a deserted motorway the little amber light is always on. At least you can turn it off.
The Mazda 6 is a decent car, and the addition of the new 2.2-litre diesel only makes it better. It’s just a pity the fuel economy and emissions figures are only on par with the new engine’s predecessor.
Phew, I got all the way to the end of a Mazda drive without mentioning zoom-zoom.