I have to admit it was a long time since my last outing in a Mazda. If memory serves me correctly, it was one my best friend’s dad’s RX 7 we had ‘liberated’ for a jaunt almost 20 years ago. Speed, style, sleek and sporty – we thought we were sharpest lads around and were scratching our heads why all those young ladies didn’t quite see it too!
It was our Ferris Bueller moment – but fortunately we knew he would not notice the extra few kilometres on the clock, so didn’t have to try to rewind the odometer.
Fast forward 20 years, and I’m back in the Mazda hot seat again. The excitement of the swift speed and sleek styling captures the boys’ imagination again. But this time it’s a Mazda 6 Limited, and I’ve swapped university buddies for my school boys in the backseat.
Back then, for this spotty adolescent, the Mazda’s attraction was all about heart appeal – and the Mazda 6 also offers plenty of that with smooth, sporty good looks. But the 6’s top safety features, and fuel economy, also offer plenty of rational appeal.
Ultimate Motor Group’s John Archie takes me through the top-of-the-range Limited’s features before I roll off the Hewlett’s Rd yard.
Available in sedan or station-wagon formats, the Mazda 6 is offered in three levels – the standard GLX, the enhanced GSX model (with extras that include TomTom satellite navigation, parking sensors and i-ELOOP regenerative braking) and the premium Limited.
A clever combination of technology boosts fuel efficiency in the Mazda 6 to an impressive 5.4 litres per 100 km (diesel). Among the smart technology is Mazda’s innovative world – first i-ELOOP brake energy regeneration system – which harvests braking energy every time you slow down. The surplus energy is stored in a capacitor for use to power on-board systems, such as audio and climate control. Simply take your foot off the accelerator, as you coast to a stop at the intersection, and the dash lights up showing the i-ELOOP system charging up.
Out of the yard, and rolling along Hewletts Rd, I get to test the i-Stop function at the first intersection, with the car engine automatically shutting down after idling stationery for five seconds. It’s another smart feature which helps the Mazda 6’s efficiency and reduces emissions – without affecting the driver experience – is the engine automatically bursts back into life with the slightest movement of foot on brake pedal. No driver inconvenience just smart engineering – with the reassurance that you will not be left stalled at an intersection unable to start with a flat battery, as the i-Stop system automatically turns off when car battery level is low.
The sleek design flows through from the sporty exterior into the Limited’s cabin with the luxurious leather seating, heated front seats, an LCD screen control system for audio, navigation and phone display. While a commander dial, alongside the handbrake, allows you to easily scroll between functions. Cruise control, and following distance settings, can be adjusted on the steering wheel.
On paper, the diesel 2200 sounds pretty ordinary. But in the driving seat you will be surprised by the power it packs. The six speed automatic transmission springs into life under a lead foot – or at the flick of your wrist on the triptonic; or by the paddle shift at your fingertips, tucked behind the steering wheel.
Sensors – front and back – emit different waning tones helps you avoid unwelcome surprises – with automatic brake function kicking in when you have not noticed a hazard. It’s the kind of function you never want to check. But John has seen it in action when the car was debuted for dealers earlier this year, with it screeching to a halt after sensors noticed the sheet of paper stretched across the car’s path.
Other impressive features the sensors deliver, to help driver safety, include a lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and radar cruise control – automatically adjusting speed to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead.
Even night driving is made more relaxing with the car’s automatic high beam control function. No more unintended blasting of oncoming traffic with high beam lights, with the car sensing when you need to dip your lights for both oncoming and following traffic, then automatically returning to full when required.
Smart looks, smart brains and plenty of get up and go – the Mazda 6 is a head turner that offers great performance across the board. It’s an appealing car for almost any household – and I’m sure we will soon see a lot more on the street as word gets out just how good they are.