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First Drives: Mazda6 with Paula Sward

There is something very sophisticated about the new Mazda6.
Slipping in behind the wheel and settling into the cream leather seats, I suddenly feel very grown up. The interior is sleek and smooth, with the leather extending to surround the centre console and lower half of the dash – something I would only expect to find in a high-end vehicle. 

The exterior is also sleek but not flashy – the elongated lines of the sedan scream class and style. A new-look grille and lower, wider stance give it great presence on the road, with refreshed alloy wheels setting off the design. 

However, you should never confuse ‘sophisticated’ with ‘conservative’ – this vehicle is anything but.

In our road test through country Victoria the all-new turbocharged SKYACTIVE-G 2.5T direct injection petrol engine gave a feeling of huge power, even if we weren’t able to let it loose to its full capacity. The petrol engine produces an impressive 170kW of power at 5000rpm, and 420Nm of torque at 2000rpm – all on regular 91RON fuel. It would be interesting to test the quoted fuel consumption (7.6L/100km) in real-world conditions – I doubt you could get this much power for that economy. 
 
The vehicle hugged the road and handled corners with ease, with plenty of grunt to overtake comfortably and give a feeling of security. 
 
With all of this power under the bonnet, it’s good that Mazda has increased the safety features as well. 
 
Standard across the range, which starts at the Sport spec, are anti-lock brakes; blind spot monitoring; driver attention alert; dynamic stability control; emergency stop signal; high beam control; hill launch assist; intelligent speed assist; lane departure warning; lane keep assist; rear parking sensors; and rear cross-traffic alert – to name a few. 

There are also a huge number of in-car entertainment features across the range, including eight-inch, full-colour touch screen display, bluetooth hands-free phone and audio capability, sat nav and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. 
 
Moving up to the Touring adds the diesel engine option, along with premium Bose 231 watt amplifier and speakers, daytime running lights and front parking sensors, along with two-position memory and 10-way power adjustment for the driver, and six-way power adjustment for the front seat passenger. If you spend a little more to get the GT you have the petrol turbo option, and can add heated front and rear seats, 19-inch alloy wheels and a choice of black or white leather interior. 

But for me, if you’re going to go for the Mazda6, you may as well go all-out for the top spec Atenza, which is only $2600 (MLP) more than the GT for the turbo petrol sedan. This includes 360-degree-view monitor, using four cameras positioned around the vehicle to show your surroundings from every angle on the seven-inch centre display. This spec also gets front seat ventilation cooling – a first for Mazda – nappa leather interior (the ultimate in sophistication), and sunroof. 
 
Buyers are spoilt for choice with three engine types (including a meaty 2.2 twin-turbocharged diesel), four model grades and a choice between sedan and wagon. While the wagon provides more rear storage space (506L), my money is on the sedan, which has ample boot space (474L) for your everyday needs. 

The only question mark hanging over the Mazda6 is its three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, which is well below what is being offered by other manufacturers. However, with consumer law covering owners for what would be ‘reasonably expected’ performance for the life of the vehicle, regardless of age, those more experienced in this area than myself don’t see it as an issue. 
 
Priced from $32,490 (plus on-road costs) for the Sport sedan, the Mazda6 is an excellent option if you’re looking for a vehicle that’s all class, with a bit of power to boot.