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Mazda6 shows off new 2.2 diesel

2008-12-09 09:23

Cleaner and quieter but more powerful, Mazda's reengineered 2.2-litre turbodiesel is the next to power the Mazda6.

The latest addition to the Mazda6’s engine line-up is a virtually completely overhauled diesel power source that embodies Mazda’s new approach of “sustainable Zoom-Zoom” – in other words all the fun of a powerful and responsive oil burner, but without increasing the burden on our environment.

And as the average driver’s money woes are becoming increasingly urgent, the timing for a new power source that delivers 30% more power than the outgoing model, but with the same consumption figures, is spot-on.

To satisfy the demands of a large range of diesel buyers in Europe, the new MZR-CD 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine has been launched in three power derivatives – 138 kW, 120 kW and 92 kW – and replaces the 2.0-litre diesel engine that is currently doing service in European Mazda6 models.

South African drivers will likely only be treated to the 138kW version of this engine (the same engine that will power the new Mazda3 which is expected to arrive locally towards the middle of 2009).

At the launch of the new engine in Majorca, Mazda used the opportunity to also unveil its new rear vehicle monitoring system (RVM). This system detects and warns the driver of approaching vehicles from the left or right rear, and is especially handy for detecting vehicles in your blind spot areas before you change lanes. It is the first time that RVM technology is available on a Mazda.

Steady and smooth

On the corkscrew roads that wind around Majorca’s hills, the improved torque performance of the new engine was instantly obvious. Even in third gear I was impressed at how easily the 138 kW “High Power” model that I drove sped up some remarkably steep mountain passes. With loads of torque at your disposal in this derivative (400 Nm to be exact) there seldom is a need to drop a gear when you round a mountain bend.

A slight amount of turbo lag hampers the 138-kW version, but once the revs pick up to 1 800 r/min the torque is steady and smooth and easily manageable with little torque steer on the front wheels. This derivative, the most powerful of the trio, speeds on to 100km/h in 8.5 seconds according to Mazda (admittedly not whiplash-inducing acceleration), but with most of the torque available across a large chunk of the rev range, the steadiness at which it pushes forward is much more important.

With plenty of torque also available on the mid-power 120 kW (360 Nm) this derivative might, however, just inch ahead of its more powerful sibling in terms of driveability because of the slightly more sedate power to the front wheels.

Cleaner and greener

But its not only the increase in torque and power that is noteworthy – the new 2.2 turbodiesel engine remains as frugal as the outgoing model and also maintains the same CO2 emissions. Mazda has also managed to make it quieter than its predecessor.

By tinkering with the common-rail injection system, improving the injector’s spray and lowering the engine’s compression ratio, the Japanese engineers have managed to squeeze the same amount of kilometres from a tank (5.5l/100km to 5.6l/100km depending on derivative) as the outgoing model, despite the significant increase in performance.

At the same time CO2 emissions remain under 150g/km at 149g/km (compared with 147g/km on the outgoing model). This is largely thanks to a world’s first in particulate filter technology. The new ceramic filter allows oxygen to actually enter its material where it can react with exhaust particles, and not just sit on the surface as was the case before. In short, this means the filter deals much more quickly with exhaust particles, which in turn means lower fuel consumption for you.

The new 2.2 diesel engine is also one of the quietest in its segment, and Mazda has managed to reduce noise levels by a significant 10db compared with its predecessor. This was achieved by increasing the power source’s structural rigidity and by employing a balancer shaft that helps to suppress noise. On two occasions, my fellow driver actually had to peek at the rev counter to check if the engine was running, so successful has Mazda been in their noise-reducing quest.

All-round, the Mazda6 represents a great value-for-money deal, wrapped in an elegant and stylish package with sharp performance and handling. The fact that Mazda has experienced a 17% increase in European sales between January and October this year (largely thanks to Mazda6 sales), at a time when most manufacturers recorded serious losses, confirms this model’s popularity. With the introduction of the new diesel engine, the Mazda6 can only become more popular.  


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