Matthew Jones29 August 2012

Mazda launches new 6 saloon

It’s premiering in Russia and it’s absolutely massive

2012 Mazda 6

Russians! People that like big things! Cast your gluttonous eye over this shiny new Mazda 6.

Not bad looking, is it? And there's a LOT to look at. In the grand tradition of making cars that used to be fairly compact absolutely huge, the 6's wheelbase has swollen by 105mm to 2,830mm, stretching its overall length to 4,800mm. That's only 10cm shorter than a seventies S-Class. Zoinks.

As well as the length boost, the 6 has been gently repackaged - the front axle now sits further forward, sitting 100mm ahead of the A-pillar to whittle down overhang and pump up interior space.

Click here for more pics of the Mazda 6

Like the styling? It's the latest to feature Mazda's cringely-named "Kodo - Soul of Motion" design language, and it's clearly taken large dollops of inspiration from the Takeri concept from last year's Tokyo motor show.

But despite the increased proportions, the 6 is down on mass. The 2.0-litre petrol saloon weighs 1,340kg, nearly 100kg lighter than its previous 1,435kg equivalent (and 215kg lighter than said S-Class, fact fans). Mazda's managed it by using high-tensile steel, which has also improved rigidity along the way.

So, engines. They're all from the SkyActiv stable, and will be 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrols from launch. If you're not fully conversant with the tech, it makes the best of olde worlde four-stroke combustion engines, which means silly-high 14.0-1 compression ratios (giving better torque at low revs), 4-2-1 exhaust manifold (removing exhaust gasses more quickly) and special pistons and injectors, which helps make the petrol as, erm, explodey as possible.

There's also a pair of 2.0-litre diesels, pinched from the CX-5 crossover, which push out 148bhp and 173bhp. Both petrols and diesels will be mated to either a six-speed manual or Skyactive-Drive automatic transmission.

The techgasm's spread inside, where you'll find all sorts of new, shiny buttons that activate things like rear vehicle monitoring, smart city break support, adaptive front lighting and high beam control.

There's also a trick new regenerative braking system called the i-ELOOP. It gathers up lost kinetic energy when the driver lifts the throttle and charges a high-capacity double-layer capacitator via a 12-25-volt variable voltage alternator. The capacitator (think electricity holding cell) then uses the stored energy to power stuff like climate control, headlights, audio, which reduces the burden on the engine. Mazda reckons this boosts economy by 10 per cent.

Elsewhere, Mazda's keen to talk about the meticulously detailed but utterly forgettable interior. It's down on noise, vibration and harshness levels, they say, and that the tactility of the driver-touch materials is considerably better than the old ‘un. Not difficult, the old ‘un was pretty plasticky.

Need more stowage for offspring/oddments? An estate version's scheduled to arrive at the Paris motor show later this year, heralding the car's arrival in the UK before Christmas.

Fancy a massive Mazda, TopGear.commers? Or prefer the older, simpler, smaller and slightly more rattly version?

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