27 December 2018
Ross Kiddie | The Star (Christchurch)
Motoring I'VE OWNED a long succession of sport sedans, there's something about the concept which really appeals to me.
One of them was a 1970s Mazda 808, a conventional four-cylinder car which shared its body shell with the rotary-engined RX3.
My 808 was warmed a little, which is why I considered it to be a sports sedan, it had a mild camshaft, extractors and a carburettor re-jetted to get more fuel into the engine. It was a cool car and one which I enjoyed immensely, however, I always hankered after a rotary and after a while the 808 was sold.
With changing fortunes, that was the only Mazda I ever owned, unless you take into account the investment I've made keeping my son's RX7 mobile.
Today, Mazda doesn't really classify its Mazda6 as a sports sedan, it is a sedan (and wagon), but it fits into the mainstream, albeit a purposeful car in the first instance. However, there is something about the new Mazda6 range that is different to what we have seen in the past. The range-topping Takami has a turbocharger attached to the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, bearing in mind, though, the normally-aspirated Mazda6 is still in the books and it is the solid seller it has always been.
The Takami, though, is a step above that, the turbo boost adds around 30kW and 168Nm above the standard outputs, its power and torque figures register at 170kW and 420Nm, the latter available from just 2000rpm. It's only a low pressure boost, but it is enough to provide stimulating performance and it does so in an understated way. The Mazda6 as a series is a car which today sits on the outer periphery of the luxury car class, yet its price is still the bargain which lures buyers.
The Takami sits at $56,995, while the range starts at $45,995. Take into account, too, that there are also diesel options.
As with all the series, the Takami drives through a traditional six-speed automatic transmission; other than a driver-selectable sport mode and paddleshifters, the transmission is pretty much standard fare. I like that, there are no surprises and no gimmicks, just clever engineering that still provides spirited performance and ease of use amidst the challenges of our daily commute.
When given some freedom, the engine develops a moderate thunder from under the bonnet, it's not loud, but it is a throb which lets you know the turbo is boosting well and acceleration is being ushered in vividly.
The Takami will reach 100km/h from standstill in 8.1sec, and will lunge quickly through a highway overtake (80km/h to 120km/h in 5.5sec).
I didn't use sport mode often, the Takami is still very responsive in normal mode and has an instant feel beneath the accelerator.
There are many quicker sedans of this type, but for my money there are few that are more civilised nor refined. That is a Mazda strength, and if you look at any model out of the Mazda stable today, you will find a huge emphasis on build quality and sophistication.
One of the things that does need to be remembered if you look at the Takami as a sport sedan, is that drive goes to the road through the front wheels. In a perfect world, my definition of the sport concept is rear-drive, but the Takami needn't be discounted, it has fabulous handling, and a balance between power and handling that is perfectly matched.
100km/h (engine speed 1900rpm).
These are good figures that combine to provide a very satisfying drive.
The Takami is certainly Of course, the Mazda6 has a fully independent front-strut/rear-multilink suspension, and the spring and damper rates are set for a quality ride with just moderate firming.
That doesn't compromise handling when those tricky corners arrive. At just 1.4m tall, the Mazda6 sits low and, therefore, gravitational force over the suspension isn't huge, there is little body lean and suspension control, and balance, is beautifully engineered.
I took the test car on a Scenic Highway 72 loop, thoroughly enjoying its precision in the corners and quiet highway motion.
The evaluation car was trimmed in white leather, with that you get a feeling of absolute opulence.
There's a high specification level as can be expected in a $57k car, but it's the myriad of little things that combine in the Mazda6 to give you that special car feeling.
If you think the turbocharger is going to burn through your fuel, and money, unnecessarily, that's not the case. Mazda claim a 7.6-litre per 100km (37mpg) combined cycle fuel usage rating for the Takami. The evaluation car's trip computer was constantly listing a 9l/100km (31mpg) average figure, along with a 5l/100km (56mpg) instantaneous readout at my kind of car; if finances allowed, it may well have been the model that gets me into my second Mazda.
Price - Mazda6 Takami, $56,995 Dimensions Length, 4865mm; width, 1840mm; height, 1450mm Configuration Four-cylinder, front wheel-drive, 2488cc, 170kW, 420Nm, six speed automatic.
Performance 0-100km/h, 8.1sec Fuel usage 7.6l/100km