I’m not bragging or anything (okay, just a little) but I was at the unveiling of the new Mazda6 at the LAAS car show in Los Angeles last year. As a guest of Mazda NZ, I was treated to an amazing adventure that included driving some classic Rotaries through the tight and twisting turns of the Californian Canyons, a VIP tour of the plethora of Mazda’s historical beauties that lie beneath the Mazda US HQ in Irvine, all culminating with the show itself and the silk being pulled new Mazda6 highlight. With this special experience still fresh in my mind, of course, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the keys on this new sedan when it arrived in NZ.
In many degrees, the Mazda6 spawned the catalyst of change that has seen Mazda climb so rapidly up the prestigious automotive ladder. Its release in 2002 began Mazda’s intention to create upmarket, stylish and intelligent vehicles that have a certain bond with its drivers. With each new generation (and the facelifts in between), the Mazda6 has embraced new technologies and showcased new design language, so you can be sure that their latest rendition takes another leap forward.
To ensure I received the VIP treatment, Mazda NZ handed the top of the line Takami edition over for me to enjoy. The stately sedan is already a bit of an eye-catcher but the Takami sits as the pinnacle of the Mazda refinement (over and above the LIMITED).
Outwardly Mazda has sharpened the sedan’s already appealing design. Like the ‘sparkle’ in toothpaste adverts, the subtle use of chrome accents gives the Mazda6 more of a glint in its eye and there appears to be more shadow and light play from the sleek bodywork. Dual chrome exhaust extensions, body coloured mirrors and adaptive LED lights all make add to the show too.
Mazda has added the award-winning SKYACTIV 2.5L turbo engine option to the sedan and with output numbers that hit 170kW and 420Nm (equivalent to a 4L V8) there is definitely more spring to its step, the turbo really makes a difference.
Slip inside and you’re into a whole new world of Mazda luxury. Oriental brown nappa leather, genuine sen wood panels, more use of chrome and the Ultrasuede fascia that runs across the entire length of the carefully crafted dashboard and onto the door panels is a lesson in tactility. Just quietly I spent an almost unnerving amount of time on this feature—anyone read Of Mice and Men? (tell me ‘bout the rabbits, George).
Mazda is also evidently concerned about our posture. The ergonomic front seats in the new Mazda6 have been redesigned to encourage the natural S shape of the human spine, they’re wider too and made with vibration absorbing high-density urethane body, the result is far a less-stressed ride and more Jinba Ittai. Oh and all seats (front and back), are heated.
I have to admit to spending most of my time with the Mazda6 ferrying the family to kids parties and other less salubrious events (seriously, where are the red carpet invites when you need them?). It was good to have all the new improvements at hand, driving aids such as 360-degree parking views, adaptive cruise control, the windscreen projected head-up display, even the travel sickness limiting G-vectoring control (as I’d hate to see those cocktail sausages reappear), made the chores more bearable. However, I did find time to break free and stretch the engine’s legs, so to speak. The redesigned suspension and new steering rack combination made for a more expressive and involved ride. It’s quieter too, or maybe that was because I’d left the family behind.
The Mazda6 continues to evolve and although the exterior hasn’t changed dramatically (was there any need?), it’s what’s on the inside and the things you feel rather than see that truly endear you to this upgrade. With better technology, better handling, increased luxury and more underfoot power, this new sedan really is a Takami treat.
Words: Dave McLeod