Mazda has been teasing us with partial photos and light-starved videos of its all-new mid-sized Mazda6 mid-size sedan for months. Finally, the wraps come off and we get a look at the whole car – in Moscow!
In terms of styling, the new sedan draws heavily on the lines and forms of the Takeri Concept, which made its global debut at the Tokyo Motor Show last November.
Naturally, the production Mazda6 is more practical in its execution, but it hasn't sacrificed much style in its translation from concept to the real world.
Its other instant claim to fame is that it's the second Mazda, after the CX-5, and the first sedan to feature the full suite of Mazda's SkyActiv technologies.
It will launch in Europe this year with an added helping of all-new safety features and fuel efficiency-improving technologies, and will go on sale in Canada and the U.S. in early 2013 as a 2014 model.
"Soul of Motion"
Like the Takeri, the Mazda6 incorporates the company's KODO, "Soul of Motion" design language. This new family look is said to evoke a tempered aggression, "controlled yet taut beneath the three dominant character strokes that flow alongside the sculpted body."
It rides on a relatively long 2830-mm wheelbase, which enables a roomier interior and ample storage space.
It was apparent from the modified body work of a pre-production test mule I drove last summer that the new car would have different proportions. Compared to its predecessor, the front wheels have been pushed forward about 100 mm in relation to the A-pillar, resulting in reduced front overhang.
In back, the rear deck has been shortened, further enhancing the car's longer, lower, leaner look.
In Euro trim, as shown in Russia, the Mazda6 is fitted with a SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre, four-cylinder gasoline engine that rated at 134 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 155 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. (The SkyActiv-G 2.0-litre engine as used in the CX-5 in North America is rated at 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque.)
A 2.5-litre SkyActiv-G engine will also be offered on the continent. It's rated at 189 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 189 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. No word yet on whether a 2.5-litre version will make it here.
The 2.0-litre is available with either a SkyActiv-MT six-speed manual transmission or SkyActiv-Drive six-speed automatic; the 2.5 only with the automatic.
Final specifications for other global markets, including the U.S. and Canada, will be disclosed at a later date.
When I drove the test mule last year it was fitted with a wonderfully-torquey four-cylinder SkyActiv-D diesel that has since gone into production. Let's hope it makes the cut for North America.
Driver oriented interior
The new car's interior, described as cavernous and comfortable, offers a clean and simple, driver-oriented cockpit with intuitive knobs and controls within easy reach.
It features a new instrument panel in two new metallic finishes and quality materials are used throughout, with soft fabrics on frequently touched surfaces such as the door trim and along the instrument panel.
The instrument cluster uses straight-forward white scale markings on a dark background to accentuate clarity and readability and a bright metal ring provides a distinctive finishing touch.
Body and chassis
The Mazda6 rolls 19-inch wheels – five-double-spoke alloys – and tires and drives via the front wheels.
Its integrated SkyActiv body and chassis structure utilizes more ultra-high tensile steel resulting in fewer materials used (and less weight) while increasing torsional rigidity by almost 30%.
The chassis has a strut front and multi-link rear suspension system, which combine to deliver agile driving performance in the low- to mid-speed ranges and precise handling in high-speed driving.
Mazda says NVH levels have also been improved with the target of class-leading quietness and the under-floor has been designed to improve aerodynamic airflow to a class-leading 0.26 coefficient of drag (Cd), which also contributes to reduced fuel consumption.
Making its production debut in the Mazda6 is "i-ELOOP," world's-first capacitor-based regenerative braking system, engineered and developed by Mazda.
In real-world driving conditions, which feature frequent acceleration and braking, i-ELOOP is said to improve fuel economy by up to 10 percent.
Mazda's unique "i-stop" idling stop system is also available, with a class-leading engine restart time of 0.35 seconds. That accelerated restart equates to a smoother, barely noticeable pick-up as well as significant improvement in stop-and-go fuel economy.
In addition, an award-winning single-nanotechnology in the catalyst improves the exhaust gas after-treatment process and reduces the amount of precious metal required.
In Russian-spec, signature LED headlights paired with halo ring light guides are employed for the first time in a Mazda production vehicle. With the available Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), the headlights d embrace curves on the road just as the vehicle does for added visibility.
Other featured safety systems include:
•High-Beam Control (HBC): Uses a sensor to detect oncoming vehicles and automatically adjusts between high and low beam to avoid blinding other drivers at night.
•Hill Launch Assist (HLA): Helps prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards while the driver's foot moves from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal when taking off on a hill.
•Emergency Stop Signal (ESS): Causes the hazard lights to rapidly flicker on and off in the event of panic braking at speeds of 31 MPH or higher in order to warn vehicles behind.
•Rear Vehicle Monitoring (RVM): Goes into effect at speeds of 19 MPH or higher and detects vehicles approaching from behind or driving in the blind spot area on either side, and alert the driver should s/he turn on the indicator signal to change lanes.
•Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS): Uses a camera to judge the position of lines on the road and alerts the driver of unintentional lane departures, thus minimizing the risk of collision due to driver inattention or fatigue.
•Smart City Brake Support (SCBS): Uses a near-infrared beam sensor to help prevent collisions and, in cases where prevention is not possible, reduce the impact of frontal collisions at low speed (up to 19 MPH) by automatically applying the vehicle's brakes.
More information on the 2014 Mazda6 will be forthcoming closer to launch date in North America.