What is it? A facelifted version of the Mazda6 large family car which originally launched in 2013.
Key features: More equipment, more tech, better cabin.
Our view: Competitive against the Ford Mondeo and starting at a lower price.
Do car manufacturers take much notice of the feedback given to their new models? The reviews in magazines and on sites such as The Car Expert, and the comments of those who drive the cars?
Well in Mazda’s case the answer would appear to be a solid yes. The 2015 Mazda6 large family car is just arriving in UK showrooms, and while there are no mechanical changes, no new engines to promote, there are a host of changes that are directly the result, we are told, of criticisms of the car first launched in 2013.
Such differences are noticeable as soon as one slips inside the car. The interior has always been a prime area of concern for those analysing the Mazda against its rivals, criticised for its dull design, prolific buttons on the dash, and an impression that it doesn’t quite have the quality to challenge prime rivals such as the Ford Mondeo.
In the new Mazda6 the instrument panel and centre console have been completely redesigned. The handbrake lever makes way for an electronic version to free up space on a more compact centre console.
Key to the new design is a seven-inch colour touchscreen, mounted atop said centre console and combining with the rotary ‘Multimedia Commander’ to both cut the number of buttons and make the whole thing easier to use. The MMC itself is more weighty and positive in use, the buttons around it – including a very sensibly placed audio volume control – falling more naturally to one’s fingers. It is definitely an improvement.
Among the new niceties to control are the MZD Connect infotainment system, allowing access to internet and social media services, and Mazda’s first DAB radio – the lack of which was another regular complaint with the previous car.
All this comes on all versions of the car. Choose the top Sport Nav option of the three trim levels available and you also gain full-leather upholstery, an integrated navigation system, eight-way powered adjustment on the driver’s seat and six ways on the front passenger’s, these seats both heated and more supportive than previously.
There’s a premium Bose surround sound system with some 11 speakers, and finally the ActiveDriving display – effectively a head-up display, projected on a clear plate at the base of the windscreen and offeirng information on speed, navigation commands and cruise control.
Crucially, it all feels rather more upmarket, an impression that is only heightened once one gets underway. Mazda has addressed another regular criticism, the amount of noise in its cars.
The improvement we are told is 25 per cent or 2.4dB, achieved by extra sound-absorbing material in the arches, the inner roof and door linings, and improved sealing of shut points. Certainly the difference is noticeable.
As far as actually driving the car is concerned, there is no difference to be felt, as the revisions have not extended to the powertrains or chassis. In either Saloon or Tourer form, is still offered with the same engine line-up – 2.0-litre petrol units of 143 and 162bhp, and a pair of diesels offering either 148 or 172bhp.
There are some visual exterior differences, but only if you choose the Sport Nav grade. This has been differentiated from its sister models by subtle changes mainly to the lighting.
The signature wing around the front grille is now emphasised, producing a more recognisable face to the car especially in the rear-view mirror at night, thanks to the LED headlamps. And there is a more distinctive rear-light signature too.
One other aspect that should be mentioned with this Mazda6 is on the options list – the Safety Pack, which covers a range of technologies.
Included are very clever adaptive headlights. They employ a series of LEDs and rather than dropping off main beam when the Mazda6 either comes up behind another car or has one come towards it, they simply turn off the LEDs that will directly blind the other vehicle’s occupants, retaining the wide scope of light.
There is a new blind-spot monitor that also incorporates a rear-vehicle monitor to anticipate potential issues when overtaking traffic, while the same system is used as a rearwards monitor looking for potential obstructions, such as pedestrians, when reversing out of a parking space.
It’s a busy time for Mazda – by the end of 2015 the oldest car in its range will be the Mazda3, launched in January 2014. The Mazda6 is a core part of the brand’s growth plans and overall this range of upgrades can be nothing but good news for the car.
Is it as good as the just-launched Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat? The argument would be easier against the Ford than the VW, and as the Mazda’s pricing does start from a lower point than both rivals. No buyer is likely to be disappointed by the Mazda6 – it is certainly a prime contender in the market particularly for fleet users.
Mazda6 – key specifications
Model tested: Mazda6 2.2D 175ps Sport Nav saloon
On sale: February 2015
Range price: £19,795-£28,795
Insurance group: 16E-23E
Engines: Petrol 2.0 (2). Diesel 2.2 (2).
Power (bhp): 143, 162. 148, 172.
Torque (lb/ft): 155, 155. 280, 310.
0-62mph (sec): 9.5/9.6*, 9.1/9.1*. 9.1/9.2*, 7.9/8.0*
Top speed (mph): 129/128*, 134/133*. 130/130*, 139/137*.
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 51.4/50.4*, 47.9/47.9*. 68.9/64.2*, 62.8/61.4*
CO2 emissions (g/km): 129/131*, 135/136*. 107/110*, 119/121*
Key rivals: Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia
Test Date: February 2015
All performance figures with manual gearbox.
All figures with saloon except * = Tourer