The fourth generation Mazda6 has been designed to shake up the medium range Mondeo segment. There's no great revolution here; just a gentle evolution of the things that made this model's predecessor so appealing - smart looks, engaging drive characteristics and decent running cost efficiency. It's got the talent to give some better-selling cars in its class quite a lot to think about.
As before, most Mazda6 models will be sold with either 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel SKYACTIV powerplants. The 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol unit has been enhanced with redesigned intake ports, revised pistons and a more advanced fuel injection and cooling set-up. The alternative 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D diesel puts out 150PS as before in its base form, but generates 184PS (up from 175PS) in its highest state of tune. There is a completely new engine in the line-up, but it'll be a rare sight on our roads, a 2.5-litre petrol SKYACTIV-G unit borrowed from the US-market CX-9 SUV. It's paired with a SKYACTIV-DRIVE six-speed automatic gearbox.
Some effort has gone into improving ride comfort and handling dynamics too, the car benefitting from suspension fine tuning and component upgrades. Bump stop characteristics have been revised, the front dampers have increased in diameter and rebound springs have been added, all resulting in smoother vehicle behaviour and improved ride quality. In addition, the steering knuckles have been lowered to ensure a more precise response to subtle steering wheel actions. Extra noise insulation, improved aerodynamics and a special vibration-absorbing material been added to the centre tunnel and the roof lining should all improve refinement.
This MK4 Mazda6 model adopts a fresh frontal design focused around a smarter grille, which has the mesh positioned deeper within the surround to create what Mazda hopes is 'a more sophisticated and muscular face'. The revised LED headlamps integrate signature wing tips from the grille surround to underscore their so-called 'predator' style, and with the front fog lights now incorporated into the headlight cluster, the re-designed lower bumper features a sleeker profile and an aerodynamically efficient air intake. At the rear, the Saloon has a remodelled boot lid, while both the Saloon and Tourer feature cleaner rear bumper styling with more body coloured areas. Topping off the styling updates are smarter alloy wheel designs and the introduction of lustrous three-layer Soul Red Crystal paint.
Step inside and the updates are even more evident. Higher quality materials and technology combined with refinements to the cabin design deliver more of an understated sense of luxury. There's now a larger eight-inch centre-dash display screen, plus a seven-inch TFT LCD positioned in the driver's instrument binnacle and the adoption of a full colour windscreen projecting a head-up 'Active Driving Display'. The dashboard and door trim designs have been redesigned, seat comfort has been improved and the flagship 'GT Sport Nav+' trim features Mazda's signature high-end interior finishes including real 'Sen Wood' trim, 'Brown Nappa' leather and suede to deliver a cabin that aims to fuse modern technology with Japanese craftsmanship.
This fourth generation Mazda6 achieves exactly what it set out to do. Namely, to stand out. It's smarter, safer and better looking, with more equipment and better build quality. Yet it remains one of the most engaging drivers' cars of its kind. Is there room for improvement? A little. The interior still isn't the plushest in the segment. But even here, this car isn't far off the highest class standards.
In summary, this isn't the most obvious choice in its class, but if you don't want to do the obvious thing, here's a car that won't penalise you for thinking a bit more independently. Is it better than its class rivals? On many objective bases, yes it is and Mazda deserves to be rewarded for that. Will they be? Over to you.Click here to find out more about our Mazda6 range