We drove the Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5, 194 HP: a flagship with style and panache

Mazda styling is reaching top levels nowadays, and the Mazda 6 clearly shows it. Just have a look at the fluent contours and the ideal proportions and balanced surfaces of this large sedan, and be convinced with us. The Mazda 6 body has recently been revised and has gained further in maturity and elegance, with also the interior having had a stylish make-over. Under the hood, the G 2,5 and other SKYACTIV powertrains have been further perfected, and driving dynamics have also been improved. We took this elegant sedan for a test, and it showed its many qualities. Just read on…

 Hans Knol ten Bensel

The essence of Kodo styling…

Walking around the car, one is impressed by the sheer balance of the flowing lines, the artful attention to the reflections of the surfaces, indeed, every aspect of the new Mazda6’s KODO – “Soul of Motion” exterior and interior design has been driven by a ‘Mature Elegance’ development concept. The attention to the play of reflections led the Mazda stylists to make changes to the colour palette. Now, Soul Red Crystal replaces Soul Red in the body colour line-up. The fresh transparency of this new red highlights the contours of the KODO – “Soul of Motion” design. I recently was able to make a transcript for a colleague of the interesting presentation made by Jo Stenuit, and learned for instance that Mazda started in 2010 with this design philosophy called “Kodo – Soul in Motion” , a design language that they follow through developing the design of their cars.

A design philosophy…

“We call it philosophy because we don’t have a rulebook that says the front has to look like this, the rear, the side has to look like this, in adopting this philosophy we are a bit flexible within this “Kodo” design philosophy, so we don’t have a copy paste kind of mentality that some of the brands have” said Mazda Europe Design Director Jo Stenuit at this presentation. “The whole idea for Kodo”, he continued, “is to breathe life into the car that means when you see the car one should have a feeling that it’s moving even when it’s standing. In the very beginning in 2010, we used wild animals as inspiration, and especially the cheetah, so we looked at the cheetah; we looked at how its body is built, the shape of its body when it is leaping.”

And Jo Stenuit continued: “We looked at the power of the bones and musculature in the rear, how it is focusing on prey, and of course we didn’t just put wheels on the animal, but we made it as an abstract and used is as an inspiration for a whole family of cars.  We have a big question now, how do we develop Kodo, how do we make this recipe even better. We decided to push the design quality into the level of art. That doesn’t mean that every drawing that we produce should go into a museum, and should be seen as a piece of art, it is more the way we develop our designs, the way we work with clay models for instance, relying on the unique artistic skills of the designers and craftsmen.

A photo taken of the demonstration of the Mazda Design Experience in 2017…

So within Mazda, the clay models play a very important role, because they are a real part of the design process. Basically, you can recognize the shape of the form by the way it reflects light, and normally, a normal car has a constant reflection from the front to the rear, and reflections are constant on the side of the car” Jo Stenuit concluded. This is also the reason why the colours of the car are also very important…

Kodo design for the Mazda 6  

For the Mazda 6, the design theme according to Jo Stenuit is “mature elegance, and there are three things on the front end which were altered to make the car more mature and elegant. First of all Mazda improved on the front expression by giving the signature wing more prominence and making it more three-dimensional.”

The new front grille design – which by the way always reminds me of the Lancia Aurelia sports Mille Miglia racers of the fifties, features a lower bottom edge and signature wing tips underscoring the headlamps. Indeed, as Jo Stenuit puts it, “We gave the chromed “signature wing” so to say more prominence, and we made it also more three dimensional.”  The grille mesh is now positioned deeper within the surround, and the mesh design is a more profound, more intricate pattern of small blocks, strengthening the 3-D presentation of the front. They also redesigned the inside of the LED new headlamps, they are sleeker and wider and now have a really strong light signature, which will be seen on all Mazda’s in the future. More elegant and bolder at the same time, we would say.

The same can be said for the alloy wheels. The new designs for the 17-inch and 19-inch aluminium alloy wheels convey an image of larger diameter, with a more sculpted appearance, with a deep center and very long straight spokes.

Elegance and refinement also in the cabin

We were very impressed with the instrumentation, dashboard and interior. Here too everything breathes the artful Japanese sense for trueness, authenticity and simplicity.

It was translated into the beautiful round instruments, with their elegant white lettering on black background. The whole dashboard has been reproportioned with a dark top area and a lower coloured area flowing really beautiful into the door. In our test car this coloured area had a brown finish, a suede light material with a velvety touch, inspired by Japanese craftsmanship, all of this underlined by a satin chrome bar which makes the interior look even wider. Last but not least there is the real Sen wood decoration panel.

Our lavishly equipped test car also featured Nappa leather seats, which are ventilated by the way.

Our eyes fell straight on the vehicle information directly onto the windscreen, and this so-called New Active Driving Display technology is standard on all equipment levels.

Skyactiv technology under the hood…

We tested the Mazda 6 with the SKYACTIV-G 2.5 engine. This rather large four cylinder runs smoothly thanks to a balancer unit that reduces low frequency vibrations, and has the unmistakeable sound, feel and responsiveness we appreciated in other Mazda “bolides”, like the MX-5 for instance. Thanks to the SKYACTIV technology it features a high 13.0:1 compression ratio, and its efficiency keeps consumption within reasonable levels, given its power (194 HP). The manufacturer quotes 6.7 – 6.8 l/100km, with CO2 emissions being 153 – 156g/km.

It is not easy to reach these figures, even when adopting a very restrained driving style. Nevertheless, pottering along at the 30 km/h urban speed limit will cost only between 5,3 and 5,8 liters/100 km, but then it takes a very gentle right foot. Again here, a lot depends on your driving style. The engine is quite willing to rev, and keep in mind that it develops its maximum power at 6000 rpm, with also the maximum torque of 258 Nm being reached at a rather high 4000 rpm. Therefore the sports mode is truly delightful when you are in a more spirited mood, as it keeps the engine into higher rev regions, and then it responds beautifully to the slightest movement of your right foot.

The Mazda 6 offers excellent camera views and has even a totally informative 360 ° view for urban driving in tight spaces…

With all this power, the Mazda 6 is quite agile; 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in 8,1 seconds, and its top speed is a no nonsense 223 km/h. All this agility is also enhanced by the excellent and responsive 6 speed automatic transmission. When you are in a fuel saving mood, it is good to know that the SKYACTIV engine has a  new cylinder deactivation system when driving at constant speed of 80 km/h. It is barely noticeable, even for the keenest driver.

Agile handling

This Mazda6 is also a drivers’ car. Its masterfully designed chassis and suspension sees to that, and also its relatively low weight. Indeed, this impressive sedan brings only 1426 kg on the scale.

It steers very precise, the multilink rear suspension keeps the Mazda 6 in neutral balance up to very high cornering speeds. As one knows, Mazda adds G-Vectoring Control technology to every version of the Mazda 6, and the inspiring handling is one of the good reasons to buy this car.

As with all Mazda’s, its engineers are inspired by the principle of “Jinba Ittai”, which means “horse and rider as one.” More than ever, the Mazda 6 reflects this philosophy… which brings you to the following point: do you REALLY need this SUV you are dreaming about as your next car? Just think also about a sleek sedan like this Mazda 6 for sports car type driving, without sacrificing anything in comfort and refinement. 

Conclusion

If you want to travel in style, and enjoy motoring with zest and sportiness, and at the same time appreciate as well refined and comfortable transport, then this Mazda 6 is the car for you. This sedan really stands out, has an exclusive stance, and has a very outspoken personality which will underline yours. With its premium and refined interior, it will also seduce all your passengers.

So if you are looking for an extraordinary sedan, just take a long hard look at this one…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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