And the new Mazda6, imported from Japan, really needs to deliver premium quality and refinement, with the 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel variants priced in the RM200,000 range. While there is a RM167,000 entry-level 2.0-litre variant that is quite well-equipped, it’s still a hefty price as buyers who can afford the Mazda6 would certainly look at what premium European brands have to offer.
Our test drive unit is the diesel-powered 2.2-litre SkyActiv-D sedan priced at RM213,426.47 on-the-road without insurance, and we certainly enjoyed every moment we spent in the car. It’s a big, long car with a strong road presence thanks to Mazda’s Kodo - Soul of Motion design language which gives it a sporty yet elegant silhouette.
Like the Mazda Vision Coupe concept, the updated Mazda6 also has a Mature Elegance design. The updated Mazda6 gets a new front grille design, sleek LED headlamps, and a new bumper redesigned with air vents to improve aerodynamic performance by channelling air to the front tyres. The new 19-inch wheels also look premium. A powered sunroof, which allows more light into the cabin, is another nice feature here.
The quality of the fit and finish is very high, and we like the classic executive look of the cabin, which has black leather seats and a dark themed cabin. The interior has a high-grade ambience, especially with the smooth leather upholstery, metallic trim and chrome door handles.
On the top centre of the dashboard, there’s an eight-inch display screen for the infotainment system (music, navigation, Bluetooth functions) and 360-degree View Monitor which is controlled via a rotary dial and some buttons located between the front seats.
The design doesn’t look cluttered with too many buttons and switches, and we also like the space-saving electronic parking brake with auto hold function. The 11-speaker Bose audio system delivers crisp sound quality, and allows you to enjoy your favourite tunes in the hushed, cocooned interior.
We also found good rear legroom for 1.7-metre adults, although rear headroom is just adequate due to the sloping rear roofline.
The diesel-powered Mazda6 has many nice features, and we particularly loved the powered front seats which are snug and provides top-class lumbar back support. We found the front seats to be very comfortable for long journeys, and arrived at our destination feeling less fatigued.
According to a Mazda press release, the redesigned front seats use a high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam and help keep passengers’ spines in the natural S-shape humans use when standing. The car has four USB ports including two USB sockets in the centre storage compartment between the front seats, and charging our smartphones was easy.
Other features include a deep 489-litre boot, automatic lights and wipers, automatic air conditioning, rear air conditioning vents and push start ignition - standard kit in a premium car. There’s also a Active Driving Display (Head-Up Display) which shows data like travel speed and road speed limit, that are projected onto the windshield for the driver.
Besides the 360-degree View Monitor that uses four cameras to provide a view of the car’s surroundings, the diesel-powered Mazda6 also gets premium safety features like Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Lane Keep Assist System (LAS) and Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) for front and rear.
With SCBS, brakes will be applied automatically to prevent or reduce the impact of a collision (system works at forward speed of up to 30kph and reverse speed of up to 8kph). As for LAS, this makes minor steering corrections to keep the car within its lane (especially when you don’t use the signal indicator when changing lanes). However, we find that LAS can be quite irritating as the steering wheel resisted our control attempts in lane departure situations, and opted to switch off LAS.
We were reminded repeatedly by Bermaz Motor staff to pump only Euro 5 grade diesel for the brawny SkyActiv-D 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, which delivers 188hp and a monstrous 450Nm of torque. Mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox, this meant extremely responsive acceleration and instantaneous power on tap to propel the car which has a 1,642kg kerb weight.
You get sensational acceleration and sprinting speeds, and sharp, accurate control from the Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS). Combine these with Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control (GVC) technology which improves handling, stability and comfort and you have a car which delivers a sense of total control for drivers.
Fitted with Japan produced Bridgestone Turanza T005 premium touring tyres, the Mazda6 is grippy on winding roads.
Although diesel engine clatter can be heard at low or parking speeds, driving the SkyActiv-D Mazda6 is a smooth, refined and quiet experience once you get some speed on the road.
We have driven previous editions of the Mazda6 which also delivered refined driving, but this latest update brings refinement and premium driving to a new level thanks to further improvements in the arena of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) control.
We had the car for a week, and drove it around 839km on a mix of congested city and free-flowing highway routes. It has a 62 litre fuel tank, and comes with i-Stop Idling Technology that automatically shuts down the engine to save fuel when you halt at traffic lights.
The automatic engine start-stop technology works well enough, and starts the engine rather quickly when you want to get moving again. Now, the diesel-powerd Mazda6 claims it can achieve 5.2 litres per 100km (or 19.2km per litre). In reality, after 839km and refuelling with 10 litres of Euro 5 diesel, the trip meter showed our average fuel consumption at 13.8km per litre.
We are rather impatient drivers and we are sure gentler drivers would be able to get much better fuel economy.
Bermaz Motor offers a 5-year manufacturer warranty or 100,000km (whichever is first). To sweeten the deal further, there is also 5-year free maintenance including labour, parts and lubricants or 100,000km (whichever is first).
The SkyActiv-D Mazda6 is a definitely a very powerful and refined, premium car that delivers heaps of refinement and a serene driving experience. Thanks to its over-muscled turbodiesel engine and innovative driving technologies, it also provides plenty of excitement for keen drivers.
It comes with premium safety features, and we think its a classy, executive car that is worth the top dollar it commands. As a package, the SkyActiv-D Mazda6 has everything you want in a big, executive five-seater saloon - comfort, luxury, refinement, fuel economy, power, and a silky-smooth ride quality.
Its size, power, refinement and top-notch appointments should result in serious consideration from buyers looking at premium European brands in its price segment.