MAZDA’s D-segment sedan is here, less than six months of its launch. Sporting the highly acclaimed Kodo design, the Mazda6 is probably the snazziest looking sedan to come from Japan. Bermaz, Mazda’s distributor for the country has three variants to offer, the Skyactiv G 2.0 and the Skyactiv G 2.5 sedan and Skyactiv G 2.5 wagon.
Exterior wise, the 2.0-liter wears smaller 17-inch wheels as opposed to the 19-inch alloys the 2.5-liter is wearing. Apart from that, the 2.5-liter gets a hosts of electronics goodies under the i-Activsense banner. This will include Smart City Brake Assist (car stops on its own to avoid impact during traffic jams; works in speeds between 4 and 30km/h and uses near-infrared laser), Lane Departure Warning System, Rear Vehicle Monitoring (blind spot assist), High Beam Control (switches off the high beam when there is oncoming traffic) and Adaptive Front-Lighting Control. The 2.5-liter also comes with 11-speaker Bose audio technology and satellite navigation.
Both models however are equipped with the i-Eloop function (uses regenerative braking to recharge a capacitor to help power up the car’s electronics – saves fuel up to 10 per cent) and the i-Stop system (engine shuts down when the car stops – takes 0.35 seconds for the engine to restart the moment brake pedal is release and saves fuel up to five per cent).
We were given half-day driving opportunity with the two variants and the route included the straight Guthrie highway, the zig-zagging B-roads of Ulu Yam going up to Awana and down again to join the Karak Highway and ended up in Colmar Resort in Bukit Tinggi.
The 2.5-litre certainly has more power but the engine, although with less than 300km on the odometer when we received it, felt extremely smooth. In fact so smooth, when we flicked to the paddle shifters, we couldn’t tell when the engine was about to hit the rev limiter. The 6-speed Skyactiv Drive transmission does not upshift automatically when you use its manual mode and during that drive, we hit the limiter quite often. Throttle input too was not too linear – a lift off would see the 2.5-liter quickly slowing down, as if it was doing an engine braking on its own.
The Electric Assisted Power Steering however was not too bad. There was still some feel to it although it was not as good as the German’s version. Suspension wise, there was bodyroll during the corners but was tolerable and within control. High speed runs proved the car was superior than the other Japanese players. Even at high triple digit speeds, the Mazda6 offered a solid and quiet ride. Many would be fooled with its ability to hide the speed it was going. We were also given a chance to try and hit a balloon car with the 2.5L at 20km/h but the Smart City Brake Asisst intervened and stopped the car right in time. On the road, the i-Activsense features were quickly put to use and we were positive the features would be appreciated by the owners.
Next was the 2.0L and to our surprise, we rather liked this one more than the dearer 2.5L. It has better gear ratios and it was so good, we soon realised the car needed more power to tame the Karak corners. Accelerator feel was linear and easier to modulate while the engine gave out enough feel for us to know when to upshift without even looking at the tachometer. It was more engaging than the aloof 2.5-liter because most probably the latter was designed as a more sedate cruiser.
Suspension was as rollable as the 2.5-litre but containable and never was a hindrance for us to tackle the curves. In fact, we believed we were charging harder in the 2.0-litre. Anyway, drives like this occasion is only good as a first impression exercise. The engine needs to lose up a bit and we would like to drive it on our own set of familiar roads so that we can compare this new 6 against our personal benchmark.
For the time being, we have to say this is the best Japanese D-segment sedan for something below RM200,000. And oh, as for the wagon, it was not available during the launch but we believe its performance should be similar to the 2.5-litre sedan, if not a tad slower.
Bermaz is giving them a 3-year warranty and a 3-year free maintenance package. The car is imported from Japan and comes with five different colours – Pearl White, Aluminium Metallic, Red, Gray and Light Blue. – Hezeri Samsuri
Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.0
Engine: In-line 4-cylinder 1,998cc DOHC 16V direct injection
Max power: 153hp @ 6,000rpm
Max torque: 200Nm @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed AT
Features: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, DSC, TCS, Hill Launch Assist, keyless entry and start, i-Stop
Estimated price: RM159,440.20
Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5
Engine: In-line 4-cylinder 2,488cc DOHC 16V
Max power: 185hp @ 5,700rpm
Max torque: 250Nm @ 3,250rpm
Transmission: Skyactiv-Drive 6-speed AT with paddle shifters
Features: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, DSC, TCS, Hill Launch Assist, keyless entry and start, i-Activsense (with AFS, RVM, LDW, HBC & SCBS), bi-Xenon lights, i-Eloop,i-Stop, 11-speaker Bose audio
Estimated price: RM186,659 (sedan); RM191,763.30 (wagon)