THERE is always a compelling reason to pay attention when a new Mazda model is launched.
Although it is a small company, it has an enviable reputation for quality and durability. The reason is simple. Unlike many of the motor giants who cherry-pick parts and engines from other manufacturers, Mazda designs and manufactures just about every part of its vehicles in its own factories. No cheap buy-ins, so the quality is assured, as just about every Mazda owner will testify to.
So look closely at the new third-generation Mazda6. It has its very own chassis, engines and transmissions. All developed in-house so that quality control is assured. Up to now all manufacture was in Japan but for the future there is also a manufacturing plant in Russia and one is also planned for Mexico to ensure continuity of supply.
The new model is larger, lighter and greener than the model it replaces. It has a longer wheelbase than most rivals, headroom is generous and rear legroom and elbow room have been increased. The materials used in the cabin have also been upgraded and the new offering is moving towards 5 Series BMW standards. Improvements go right through to the boot where the lid now opens much wider for greater access.
Styling is based on the Takeri concept of 2011 but toned down. There is the blunt nose family resemblance of the striking CX-5 followed by a coupe-style roofline with a mixture of striking body creases and flowing lines to create the impression of rapid forward movement. Underneath there is extensive use of extra-strong, high-tensile steel to cut down on weight and also improve torsional rigidity. Suspension settings are firm for optimum handling but not uncomfortable, even on rough roads.
Engineers say the car was designed for driving pleasure and even go so far as to say that parts of the car that the driver touches are intended to feel like they are parts of the driver's body.
Fuel efficiency has been greatly improved because of the weight reduction, a Stop-Start system and an i-ELOOP energy regeneration system, which uses a capacitor to store energy from deceleration and braking, which is on tap to power lights, air conditioning and even the sound system. Mazda says the diesel can return 3-9L/100km with an output of just 104g/km of C02.
There is a choice of a 2-litre or 2.5-litre petrol engine but the 2.2-litre diesel will be the big one in Ireland, with a choice of 150-bhp or 175-bhp output. In the saloon body, the 2-litre, 145-bhp, petrol-powered version in entry level XE trim is priced at €27,995. The big seller is expected to be the 2.2-litre diesel in mid-level Sport trim with prices here at €30,995 for the 150-bhp unit. In top trim, the Sport SE costs €34,995 and the 175-bhp automatic version is €37,995.
A must on family and fleet managers' shopping lists when it arrives in January.