Predictable is how you'd probably describe the new secondÂ·generation Mazda6. It is predictable that the new car is more aerodynamically efficient, with its coupe-like silhouette, and lighter, as a gram-saving strategy means extra performance.
What we didn't expect was that the company would devise an even lengthier list of esoteric Japanese terms - Kizuna, Seichi, Yugen, Rin, Myoshi - to highlight the special local flavour of its latest creation. It's a car, guys, not a culinary delight.
Fortunately, that's about as silly as the 6 gets; the rest is just a smart implementation of Mazda's sportsÂ· oriented engineering bent - with the exception that the hackneyed Â·ZoomÂ·zoom' ditty plays each time you hit the ignition. Thankfully, you only need endure this once; there's a submenu to expunge it forever.
In essence, the new 6 gets a larger, swoopier, more aerodynamic bodyÂ·shell, a more powerful and frugal engine and, with an obsessive approach to weight saving, a kerb weight that's supposedly 3Skg less than its predecessor.
Though this depends on the model, it seems. When we put the rangeÂ·topping 2.5 litre Limited 5porthatch evaluation model on our corner scales, we were surprised to see this five-speed auto version weighed lS22kg. The odd thing is, we weighed the outgoing Limited Sporthatch model (manual variant) at 1424kg. Add around sokg for an auto transmission and you're looking at about 147Skg, which is still around sokg lighter than the new car. I guess the extra specification in the new Limited model must add a bit of weight.
To put things into better perspective, the top new Mondeo model, with its six-speed auto, tipped our fourÂ·corner scales at lS81kg. Which makes the new 6 around 60kg lighter. Given it has a 2.5 litre engine (12SkW/226Nm) to the Mondeo's 2.3 litre mill (118kW/208Nm), the power-toÂ· weight figures (12.2 vs 13.4) would suggest a performance advantage to the Mazda6.
And yet, when we attached the VBOX data acquisition system to the Mazda, the first three 0-100km/h runs failed to dip below 10 seconds. Admittedly, the Ma2da had less than 1000km on the odo, but its quickest pass of 9.73S only bettered the Mondeo's best by 0.23S. And on the 80'120km/h front, the Ford was actually qUicker (6.93 vs 7.08s).
However, that's not how it feels on road. We would expect that a fully run-in Mazda6 would likely edge out the Mondeo. That said, there is no longer a sizeable performance disparity between these two adversaries. In fact, it really doesn't matter what parameter you address: these two arch rivals are going to be neck and neck in any future comparison, at least if the Limited we drove is any indication.
In what ways does the new 6 differ from its predecessor? Apart from the carryover 2.0 litre engine, pretty much everything else has changed. The body is dramatically new, penned by SatoÂ·san, whose past portfolio of designs includes MXÂ·S, RX'7 and an RX-8 concept. 50 the prominent front wheelÂ· arches aren't unexpected nor the smooth-flowing outline. The 18-inch alloys help impart a solid stance and the appearance of the car was highlighted further with a stunning, blemish-free paint finish.
The coupeÂ·like roofline highlights a move towards increased aerodynamic efficiency, even if it does mean slightly restricted front and rear headroom in the Limited model, which gets a standardfit powered sunroof. However, kneeroom apparently increases by 20mm. Attention to aerodynamics has resulted in a car with a Cd of 0.27-0.28, depending on bodyÂ· style, and NZ is taking all three versions: sedan, hatch and wagon. The result is a quieter car through the air, and more fuel efficient by almost 10 per cent. Changing to an electric steering set-up helped in this regard, evidently improving fuel consumption by up to two per cent, and while the 6 has feisty turn-in, it is eclipsed for involvement at the wheel by its rival, Mondeo, which has a hydraulic system.
As in the development of the new 2, the 6's body structure makes greater use of lightweight high-tensile steels, up from 42 to 49 per cent, and torsional stiffness improves as a result by 14-40 per cent, depending on body-style. The dimensions also increase modestly - wheelbase and length are up by SO-7smm and width rises by lsmm - and yet the body-shell is evidently lighter by 4.3kg. On a quick drive evaluation, we felt the dynamics of the Sporthatch Ltd were very similar to those of Mondeo: lots of grip, plenty of cornering confidence and precise responses to line adjustment using either throttle lift or mild brake application in the turn.
Without question, refinement improves and is a step up on the outgoing car, which was itself better than the original. Attention to panel gaps, improved sound deadening and suspension tweaking have produced a notably quieter ride Mazda claims 2.SdB less at 60km/h - despite the top model being shod with 22S/4S