2016 Mazda 6 Review

From the pudgy middle to the top of the class
Imthishan Giado

2015 Mazda 6

You can’t imagine how excited I was to get behind the wheel of the Mazda 6 when we first drove the new one two years ago.  You also can’t imagine how disappointed I was to discover that so much of the Mazda magic had gone missing.

While laden with tech, ample space and exotic flowing looks for a midsize saloon, the interior was stodgy and dull, too behold to misshapen Audi influences. Most egregiously, it had none of the Hiroshima firm’s characteristic chassis sparkle. At last, it seemed, the Japanese BMW had surrendered to making pretty-but-dull appliances. It was so tragic, I couldn’t bring myself to even write about it.

2015 Mazda 6

Someone at Hiroshima must have been listening to my unwritten lament. For 2015, the 6 has been refreshed. With it, all my concerns have been washed away on a tidal wave of relief.

What’s new?

Externally, you’ll distinguish the new 6 by updated headlights and grilles; if you can’t tell it apart from the old own at a moment’s glance, I won’t hold it against you. The interior is a world apart though. One simple change – take the screen out of the dash and place it atop the dashboard – and the 6 loses a ton of visual weight. Where the old car looked oh-so-2000s, it now sports an electronic parking brake and far fewer buttons.

2015 Mazda 6

The touchscreen controls all revelant functions, but there’s an MMI-style controller too between the seats. Plastics quality is greatly improved, the cabin is light and airy and the seat can accommodate virtually every body shape. Thankfully, the UI for the main screen is snappy and intuitive.

In this fully loaded R trim, the 6 is almost a match for the German competition: radar cruise control, lane keeping assist, heads up display, rain sensing wipers…about the only criticism I really have is that too many of those functions are controlled by old fashioned buttons hidden down on the left side of the dash.

Does it still drive like a Mazda?

2015 Mazda 6

On the road is where you’ll see the biggest improvement for the new 6. Where the old car’s looks disguised poor steering and an inept chassis, the new car finally has the moves to back up the cheques that svelte body’s been writing.

OK, it’s no sportcar. But it’s not far off either; the steering actually has good feel and weight. Despite being a large car the 6 is nimble and agile and dives into corners, the front end resisting push remarkably well. The brakes are well judged too; this is a midsize car you’ll enjoy driving every day and smile when you pass lesser rivals.

As much as I’d like to give it a perfect score, the one (minor) drawback is that 2.5-litre SkyActiv engine; 184bhp and 185lb/ft of torque should feel gruntier than this. Low on the tach the torque is thin, gets better in the midrange and by the time you’re sweeping up to the top of the rev range, it’s making a pretty nice four-cylinder snarl. So rapid progress in the 6 depends on a slightly heavy right foot; fortunately when you’re cruising, the car boasts exceptional fuel economy.

2015 Mazda 6

Verdict

The last 6 was such a disappointment that I feared for the future of Mazda, a little company that has always made even its basic cars fun to drive. With the new 6, consider those  fears put to rest; while it’s not cheap the extensive changes means it’s now the best driving saloon on the market – and just happens to have the best interior as well. Well done, Hiroshima.

2014 Mazda 6 2.5
Specs
Prices:
2.0 S AED74,900 ($20k)
2.5 S AED84,900 ($23k)
2.5 V w/o Sunroof AED94,900 ($24k)
2.5 V Sunroof AED99,900 ($27k)
2.5 R Sunroof AED116,900 ($31k)
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder, 185bhp @ 5700rpm, 184lb ft @ 3250rpm
Performance: 8.1secs 0-100kph (est), 230kph, 7.8L/100
Transmission: Six-speed auto, front-wheel drive
Weight: 1466kg

 

3 responses to “2016 Mazda 6 Review”

  1. Sah says:

    So what are the chassis and mechanical changes between the 14 and 16 version. You just say it’s better. What has changed? You just talk about interior. You say its better to drive but don’t explain why. Not expected from you guys

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] I have received no technical information from Mazda apart from “it’s better.” The big change *is* the interior – it’s considerably different – but the chassis changes are subtle, but effective. Without a full technical briefing it is hard to be sure, but at a minimum it appears they have revised the geometry considerably. The shocks seem softer for an improved secondary ride, the turn in is better – so definitely changes to the anti roll bars – and the steering is more talkative so new software for the EPS. But again, these are only educated guesses. All you need to know is – it’s better!

      Impala or this – the Impala is a better highway cruiser for the AD-DXB commute, it will be -slightly- thirstier due to the V6 and a microscopically better sound system. It’s more expensive too. The 6 is the driver’s car, and has plenty of space, much better agility but not the outright pace of the V6 Impala. Hope this helps.

  2. Sah says:

    Should I buy this or the Chevrolet Impala? You’ve confused me now

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