MAGALIESBERG, Gauteng - Mazda, after suffering several years of low sales and low profile during its seemingly everlasting divorce from former parent Ford, is back in South Africa with a three-model range – this one the flagship, the stunning Mazda6 sedan.
FLAGSHIP FROM REVITALISED MAZDA: This is the startlingly good-looking Mazda6, the larger of the two sedans just launched in SA as part of the brand's resurgence here. Image: Mazda SA
There are six versions – only one of them with a manual gearbox and including the top-of-the-line Atenza, an amazing car with which Mazda plans to take on BMW, Audi, Ford and VW.
“The Mazda6,” its maker says, “is destined to turn heads, drawing on the sleek beauty recent Mazda concept cars and with ultra-fuel-efficient SkyActiv Technology.
“The all-new Mazda6 – now in its third generation – is also the first mass-production model equipped with i-Eloop, Mazda’s regenerative braking system. It’s the most recent ingredient to ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom, the company’s building-block strategy for uncompromisingly efficient and fun-to-drive vehicles.”
It works in conjunction with stop/go and the SkyActiv power trains, chassis and body introduced on the Mazda CX-5 to set new lows for fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
IMAGE GALLERY: Mazda6
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“Drivers will experience a remarkably linear response from the choice of three SkyActiv engines, one diesel and two petrol power plants transferring power to the wheels via six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
David Hughes, new MD of Mazda South Africa, explained at the launch in Gauteng this week: “Clever steering and suspension ensure superior handling in a car that responds with precision to the driver.
“It has class-leading safety thanks to highly rigid, impact-absorbing, structures and innovative load paths to disperse impact energy. And to help the driver prevent an accident the Mazda6 has an impressive array of advanced active safety technologies.”
The car’s cabin, he added, was designed to make driving as enjoyably effortless as possible.
'NOT ON THEIR RADAR'
Mazda says its designers and engineers have created “a striking piece of machinery”. “It’s a symbiotic blend of sporty, linear, performance and smooth refinement destined to exceed customers’ expectations in the CD-segment.”
Hughes, in his launch presentation, added: “At the moment South African buyers don’t dislike Mazda, but they don’t love it either. The brand just isn’t on their radar. Simply put, we need to change the way South Africans FEEL about Mazda.”
This pricing will help: here’s the model line-up and prices
Mazda6 2.0 Active - R342 000
Mazda6 2.0 Active a/t - R358 000
Mazda6 2.5 Dynamic a/t - R373 000
Mazda6 2.5 Individual a/t – R399 500
Mazda6 2.2 DE Dynamic a/t – R404 000
Mazda6 2.2 DE Atenza a/t – R430 500
The Mazda6 will be sold with a three-year unlimited distance warranty (to private buyers), three years of roadside assistance, a three-year service plan and a five-year anti-rust-through warranty.
Wheels24 drove the new Mazdas during the South African launch over September 18/19 in the Magaliesberg area of Gauteng and can vouch that these cars the Mazda6, the Mazda3 and the Mazda CX-5 have come a long way in the past few years.
Quiet, refined and with a simplicity of cabin and facia design that loses excess in favour of modernity and ease of comprehension and use.
• The car shares the pentagonal grille of its sisters and a broad bonnet with distinctive light clusters.
• Three character lines dominate the profile view which, Mazda says, “captures the form of a predator crouched and poised ready to leap forward”.
• The rear projects a wedged body, prominent rear fender and compact cabin.
• The diode headlights and halo ring light guides are adopted for the first time in a Mazda mass-production vehicle.
• Either 17 or 19” alloy wheels can be specified.
• Polished aluminium-look has been used for the door releases and gear-shifter and soft plastics cover the most-touched surfaces, including the steering-wheel.
• Contoured seats deliver a sporty wraparound feel with leather upholstery standard across the range.
• The instrument panel is laid out horizontally with a focus on neatness and simplicity and the layout of the instrument display and driver’s operating devices has been optimised to ease vision and arm and hand movements.
• The 2830mm wheelbase allows a spacious back seat and, compared to the previous model, the front wheel has been moved forward by 100mm in relation to the A-pillar – good for those ever-multiplying speed humps.
• Shoulder room of 1,450mm in the front seat (20mm wider than the previous model) and a large radius corner on the centre console ensure comfortable seating.
CLEVER SWAN HINGE
• Rear-seat knee clearance is 43mm greater than the previous model and, Mazda claims, is among the best in the segment. Leg space is 984mm, 37mm more than the previous model and both dimensions of the rear seat have been lengthened.
• The luggage space was designed from an ergonomic perspective. Upper opening width is 32mm wider than the previous model, for easy loading. A swan hinge enables easy and smooth opening and closing of the tail door.
• The front seats have multiple adjustments; the steering column can be tilted and telescoped.
• Trip data is displayed on an eight cm multi-info display and there’s a 14.7cm infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack – info separately for the driver and front passenger.
• The audio uses an 11-speaker Bose ‘surround-sound’ system designed exclusively for the Individual and Atenza derivatives and there are iPod, USB and Bluetooth connections (incl. hands-free phone connectivity) and an auxiliary jack.
• Voice control is included.
Mazda says the automatic aircon is small, but powerful, and parking dings will be unlikely thanks to sensors across the range; the Individual and Atenza top-end models have a rear-mounted camera.
Wheels24 reckons the Mazda6 is one of the easiest-to-drive cars on the road; there’s a feeling of lightness about all the controls, particularly the steering.
What makes it go...
Diesel and petrol engines. The two-litre petrol unit runs with a 13:1 compression ratio that produces 114kW at 6000rpm / 200Nm at 4000rpm and fuel consumption is listed as about six litres/100km (combined) on either auto or manual models.
SkyActiv-G petrol engine equipped models offer abundant torque characteristics at low engine speeds enabling acceleration that precisely matches the driver’s intentions in various driving situations, contributing to a precise and linear response; high-quality ride and superb fuel economy performance.
The 2.5 petrol engine includes a balance shaft for smoother running and has the same 13:1 compression ratio. It makes 138kW at 5700rpm / 250Nm at 3250rpm and claims 6.6 litres/100km (combined).
The third engine option is a 2.2 turbodiesel (compression ratio 14:1) that makes a modest 128kW at 4500rpm but a whopping 420Nm from only 2000rpm, a combination that, Mazda says, offers 5.3 litres/100km (combined).
The new Mazda 6 is the first model to adopt the i-Eloop (intelligent energy loop) brake energy recuperation. It’s used with the 2.5 petrol engine and comes with a world first for a private car: the energy usually lost under deceleration is stored in a capacitor to power electrical components instead of a conventional battery.
The new Mazda6 also lists a range of innovative passive safety features, among them: rigid, light and ultra-high-tensile steel in the body and (larger) crumple zones, a cabin cage, padding on parts likely to contact body parts during an impact, anti-whiplash front seats, six air bags, impact protection for pedestrians.
For more information about the Mazda6, go to theMazda South Africa website.