There are many talented offerings in the mid-size car class and certainly one of the benchmarks is the popular Mazda 6.
A model refresh late last year has given it more six appeal, bringing better value courtesy of extra features and additional safety technology, but without any price rises.
Amongst the update extras on our top-of-the-range Atenza are DAB+ radio, full-colour active driving and multi-information displays, auto-fold mirrors, heated rear seats (outer positions only) and premium interior package. The latter includes Nappa leather seat trims (black or white) with titanium piping, titanium trim highlights on the dash and black headlining with LED downlights.
The existing suite of i-Activsense safety technologies has been expanded and now includes pedestrian recognition plus a greater detection speed range and wider view angle in the Smart City Brake Support system. Thankfully, we didn’t need to try this out. A handy addition is Traffic Sign Recognition that identifies speed signs, stop and no entry signs and notifies the driver via the heads-up active driving display.
We liked Mazda’s additional visual warning in the heads-up display, as well as the usual warning in the mirror head, when the blind-spot monitoring detects a vehicle in our blind spot.
Mazda have implemented several noise reduction measures to make the cabin a quieter place. Overall, the car has a very refined feel to it, most of the time, though tyre and road noise levels on coarse-chip country roads still leave some room for improvement. And the engine is still a little too rowdy when it’s revving hard.
The 2.5-litre petrol engine, however, willingly delivers sprightly performance, while Mazda’s six-speed auto provides the necessary smooth ratio shifts to make the powertrain a convincing package.
Pleasantly light, accurate steering and highly competent dynamics that have been honed for keener drivers to enjoy when the road snakes through twists and turns, add to the drive experience.
Like the smaller Mazda 3, the 6 now has G-Vectoring Control to deliver more responsive turn-in and ensure cornering lines are more easily held, with minimal throttle or steering corrections from the driver. Ride quality on the 19” wheels and 45 series tyres is firm, but remains composed and comfortable, even on less-than-perfect Queensland backroads.
Inside, supportive front seating, plus well laid out controls and switch gear add to the ambience engendered by the well-crafted cabin’s premium look and feel.