Sunday, 18 March 2018

New Mazda6 has the heart, soul and design of a superstar supercar

WITH the new Mazda6 the Japanese carmaker has crossed an important Rubicon in design to produce a car that is

WITH the new Mazda6 the Japanese carmaker has crossed an important Rubicon in design to produce a car that is not only practical but also highly desirable.

But that’s not all. The Mazda6 also demonstrates that you can have a good-looking car with performance without taking your eye off fuel costs.

What I liked most about the Mazda6 apart from its lines — more of which in a moment — was its surging, spirited engine. This 2.2-litre diesel power unit displayed great acceleration — without a hint of lag — which took you from 0 to 62mph in 8.4 seconds and could top out at 134mph.

It is not that important to take off quickly, of course, but I really like an engine to show willing and the four-cylinder, in-line, single overhead camshaft, 8-valve unit in the Mazda6 delivered every time. And it is possible with this car, according to Mazda’s figures, to achieve 58.9mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of 127g/km.

But to those looks: there is a fancy name for it as all design studios like to burden their creations with some kind of label or concept. But whatever Mazda calls it — actually it’s the “KODO Soul of Motion design ethos” — it certainly works with the Mazda6. The idea with this design ethos is actually pretty straightforward. How often have you visited a motor show and seen fantastic “concept cars” that you never see actually on the road? These are big design ideas that the carmaker wants to show off to get a reaction.

The KODO philosophy from Mazda is that this “concept design” which always verges on the fantastical, is carried through to the actual car that eventually comes off the production line.

In the case of the Mazda6, this week’s test car, it drew its inspiration from Mazda’s 2011 Takeri and 2010 Shinari concept show cars. And the result is quite startling. The Mazda6 I drove attracted approving looks wherever it went — not bad for a production car available to many as opposed to a supercar accessible only to a few.

This appeal, I am sure, was enhanced by the Mazda6’s superb colour — the aptly named Soul Red metallic paint. I usually reserve my admiration of red cars exclusively for Ferraris yet there was no doubt this colour did wonders for the Mazda6.

The model I drove was well turned-out all round and while the overall look of the car costs you nothing extra, on this model the Light Stone leather trim which beautifully set off the interior would be an extra £200 while that paint would cost £660.

This seemed a lengthy car too — long and sleek and low, which is more or less what the concept cars were. But although the Mazda6 seems a big car, it’s pretty light on its feet and handled well either on motorways or A-roads. Parking was not difficult, with good all-round visibility.

This car had another extra — a £700 Safety Pack including rear vehicle monitoring, high-beam control and a lane departure warning system. The latter might be construed as nagging but I am very much in favour of these safety measures because of the distraction issue prevalent today among drivers and a general lack of discipline shown by many motorists.However, while cocooned in the Mazda6, and feeling confident about the car one is driving, I found it easy to feel relaxed about any overbearing presence of other motorists.

You might feel the conventional saloon version of the Mazda6 — there is a Tourer — might restrict you but I was surprised by the car’s cavernous boot and ample rear passenger space. All in all, the Mazda6 is a triumph. The Japanese carmaker has produced a car that has not been compromised too much from concept to carriageway.

* Mazda6 2.2D 175ps Saloon Sport Nav Auto

* Standard car price (on-the-road): £27,295. Test car price (on-the-road) including options: £29,655

* Road fund licence band: D

* Insurance group: 23E

* Additional standard equipment on this car (above “SE-L” models) include 19in alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and Premium Bose Centrepoint surround-sound with 11 speakers.

By Nigel Wigmore

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