Three of Mazda 6

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Launched¬†in 2002, the Mazda 6 evolved in 2008 into the¬†mark two despite a¬†curtailed¬†life¬†compared to¬†the¬†seasoned Mitsubishi Colt which continues being manufactured¬†in its ninth year! The need¬†for a third generation 6¬†appealing to the¬†company car¬†owner is Mazda’s candid prerogative, instigated in 2008 by the development of the now ubiquitous 2.2 diesel. Mazda hopes to increase¬†its 12% UK market share¬†with 72% in the fleet sector¬†with eight out of ten buyers expected to choose¬†diesel powertrains. The saloon is expected to account for 65 percent of sales with the remaining opting for the sports tourer ensuring the deletion of¬†the decreasingly popular hatchback variant. With the aid of the¬†deceptively titled¬†SKYACTIV technologies, an admirable¬†reduction of carbon dioxide levels highlights a¬†new raison d’etre for Mazda,¬†bolstered by¬†the deletion of the RX-8 and that pickup thingee BT-50. Interestingly, the 6 is the first mass production Mazda model equipped with i-ELOOP¬† (Intelligent Energy Loop), a capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system fitted to Mazda 6 models sold in the UK¬†(with the exception of¬†two litre¬†145 ps¬†petrol units), using a capacitor to store charge that can be converted into electrical energy.¬†

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The 6¬†has¬†stretched its¬†door skins¬†even higher¬†at the expense of¬†small windows tapering rearwards to dupe you into the sensation of a sportier drive. In reality¬†with elbow¬†cocked up like a chicken’s wing; leaning on an unusually¬†high window ledge and the sports tourer’s ‘visibility’ that¬†necessitates an upgrade to ‘Sport’ grade¬†for the reverse camera to guide you,¬†design language i.e. Kodo competes¬†with a¬†decreasing¬†practicality. Subjectively, there appear to be¬†design references to Volvo bonnets (an NCAP¬†requirement)¬†with Infiniti and Jaguar curves beyond the C-pillars¬†creating a sturdier, tauter appearance incepted by greater use of tensile steels and welding seams. Mazda¬†have¬†adopted¬†the feline theme¬†abandoned by¬†Peugeot with¬†Kodo (Soul of Motion)¬†inspired by the power and agility of a cheetah with angled headlights¬†compared to¬†cat’s eyes that reflect off¬† ‘err cat’s eyes –¬†cue a reference to Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy!¬†in ‘Are You Being Served?’

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Motoview.co.uk tested 2.2 diesel versions (there are also 145 and 165ps two litre petrol engines) offering 150 and 175 bhp¬†which¬†my co-driver¬†defined as being ‘free revving’ i.e. accelerating constantly and consistently¬†up to and beyond¬†the rev counter redline with torque that feels as if its distributed throughout the revolution range. Both diesel units appear refined with little¬†noise intrusion¬†within dispelling most criticisms of insulation¬†that were often reported on¬†previous¬†Sixes.¬†Combined with mpg figures displayed on the trip computer of above 40 will attract the fleet manager but will it be enough to topple the BMW 3 series off the company car podium? With a competitive price of ¬£23140 for the 150ps diesel SE-L Nav saloon, ¬£4885 less than the BMW 320 Efficient Dynamics¬†with near identical emissions of 108 and 109 g/km respectively; the Mazda is economically viable in an unviable economy. Police patrols are using Hyundai i30 estates so with cost and fuel efficiency in mind, a favourable Benefit in Kind¬†cost of ¬£116 per month at the 40% tax rate, it is inevitable that the Mazda 150ps diesel should be a serious choice. Furthermore according to Glass’s guide, residual values are expected to be five per cent stronger than outgoing models after three years or 60,000 miles.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En6xpM-pWYA[/youtube]

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Inside, an 11cm increase in length over the outgoing model provides best-in-class rear legroom and overall boot capacity in the saloon model however the boot’s hinges are made from a squared¬†utilitarian cross-section of metal that looks exactly like a curved¬†chair leg. Happily, in the cabin, Mazda has moved the handbrake towards the driver’s side but the gearbox housing has a blancmange like sturdiness when nudged by your left knee and like¬†the CX-5, door pockets are too small to be useful. It is a great shame that much lauded design language has not translated within especially in the back of the sports tourer which is likened to a dark abyss.

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Mazda has pushed through established boundaries with the CX-5 and 6 with The Association of British Insurers lowering insurance groupings of all models because of The Smart City Braking System. A belated but welcomed acceptance into environmetal credibility that BMW took the lead in, Mazda has ensured that the new 6 provides a new benchmark in fuel efficiency and safety. I applaud them.

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Words and photos are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou

March 2013

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