Friday 23 March 2018

FIRST DRIVE: New Mazda6 set to pull at the heart strings but is it enough to keep them ahead of their rivals?

The new Mazda6
The new Mazda6

Philip Hedderman

International car launches can be a mixed bag. Some are funky, some fun and some just downright boring.

The new Mazda6 was, erm, quite a romantic affair!

The new Mazda6
The new Mazda6

Yes, last week in Barcelona we were being love bombed by the Japanese car giant as they pulled the covers off their slicker saloon and sports tourer.

But like your first date night with your Missus it all very nearly went horribly wrong when the dreaded question was asked ... “do you notice anything different about me?”

Those seven little words can strike absolute terror into the bravest of men. Seasoned warriors will lash through the checklist — hair, make-up, dress, weight (be very careful here gents) and reply that “you look even more stunning than the day I first laid eyes on you.”

 A similar response was needed as my hairy date and I chomped on jelly love hearts as we tried to figure out the new bit of the 2017 Mazda6.

The blink and you’ll miss it tweak to the body is basically confined to new wing mirrors with integrated indicators which now retract when the car locks.

An exclusive new colour Machine Grey joins the line up and perfectly compliments the off black alloys.

The new Mazda 6 interior
The new Mazda 6 interior

Inside a new simplified steering wheel sits in the centre of a much improved three gauge instrument cluster — now in full colour with enhanced graphics.

The head-up display is also heavily modified and now features higher resolution sat nav instructions and traffic sign recognition software.

It joins a host of other active safety technology including advanced smart city brake, blind spot monitoring, lane keep  assist, radar cruise control, driver attention alert, emergency stop signal and hill launch assist.

But under the hood is where most of the tinkering has taken place with   considerable noise reduction and the addition of G Vectoring Control.

The first and most noticeable is the  serenity in the cabin which has been achieved through better insulation of the doors and the use of laminated front side glass.

Engineers have also come up with a clever way to eradicate or greatly reduce “diesel knock” by inserting a buffer into the centre of the piston to reduce vibration in the cylinder.

It is remarkably quiet and test drives in the 150bhp and 175bhp 2.2 litre in both manual and automatic were much more refined and especially on motorways where it was almost impossible to tell whether it was a petrol or diesel.

It cruised effortlessly and on smaller tighter roads the manual really came to life and one could feel the sporty influence of the mighty MX5.

Ride and handling have also been modified with the introduction of the aforementioned GVC, which to even the most technical of is, a complicated affair.

Basically this clever gizmo kicks in to  redistributed the weight (up to 30kgs) to the opposite front wheel while cornering giving extra grip whilst exiting.

To be honest, the GVC was hard to detect and like traction control has already done its job by the time the warning light flashes.

Worry not as it comes as standard as does a casserole of goodies like electrically adjustable and heated front seats reversing camera, cruise control smart city brake, hill hold assist and keyless entry. (The head-up display only comes with the top-of-the-range Platinum model).

As mid-life facelifts go, the Mazda6 has done enough to keep up with fresher rivals like the Superb and the new Passat and still offers that stand out from the crowd desirability. As the Mazda mantra goes “there’s now even more to love about the new 6”.

Prices start at €29,295.  

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