Concept car that's already making waves
Mazda recently rolled out its new '6' family/fleet saloon -- but insisted it is still a concept car despite already being in full production.
It embodies some ground-breaking 'SkyActiv' design and engineering technology, which, it says, can be tweaked in line with public reaction.
The car is now stronger though lighter and more fuel and emission-efficient, and garnished with a little automotive beauty for good measure.
It's the offspring of Mazda's 'Kodo', or 'soul of motion', design language seen in its Takeri and Shinari concept models, which have become templates for Mazda products in recent years.
The new car's design DNA is aided in this case by a low-slung cabin.
More relevant, though, is the integration, for the first time in a passenger car production model, of a new system of energy regeneration through a 'capacitor'.
It's an integral feature of Mazda's I-ELOOP (Intelligent Energy Loop) brake energy regeneration system which stores recovered electricity to power the car's electrical systems. From the outside the test car looked well, resting on 19in aluminium wheels and decked out in a nice shade of 'Soul Red'. It's on the interior, though, that Mazda's designers may need to revisit their sketches.
The centre console is clearly laid out and unfussy and won't, like some other new models of late, overwhelm technophobes.
Overall, however, it is a mite dull and the proliferation of unappealing black in the materials used in the general trim demands the addition of a little colour.
On the positive side, the '6' now has a sportier gait and generous interior space, though taller drivers may still encounter difficulty entering and exiting under the low roofline.
On a test run of 150km, the car was a quiet and smooth performer. Its MX-5-inspired gear change in manual mode was responsive and, in automatic, seamless, while the suspension system coped well with poorer road surfaces.
Airbags abound, as Mazda aims for the highest NCAP safety rating, while other standout features include a redesigned accelerator pedal which facilitates driver comfort and faster foot reaction when braking.
A high-rise tailgate allows easy access to a spacious boot and sub-boot.
No figures on price are available though it is likely to touch the €30,000 mark.