Indicative drive away price: $41,185
There is something special about the Mazda6. Maybe Mazda’s Kodo design protocol really does embrace ‘Soul of Motion’ because driving the Mazda6 does give you the right sort of connected feeling with the car and road.
When you combine Mazda’s build quality, reliability and drivability, you get the makings of a true winner. Mazda6 scored admirably under each of the three scoring sections – value for money, design and function, and on the road – either leading or matching virtually all other cars overall.
There’s been a lot of development and talk about active safety in recent times and Mazda has not been resting on its laurels. Mazda6 now comes with some of the features that were normally reserved for premium makes or higher levels of specification. Our winner here, the Touring model, as well as the entry-level Sport, now receives as standard Mazda’s autonomous braking system, called Smart City Brake Support, which can activate up to 80km/h (previously 30km/h).
A newly developed forward-sensing camera can more easily detect pedestrians as well as other objects and vehicles. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert features are also included across the range now. It’s refreshing to see front parking sensors on this model, too, to complement the reversing camera and rear sensors.
As far as convenience and comfort features, the list goes on. Valued items such as satellite navigation, digital radio operated from within Mazda’s MZD Connect system, auto-dimming internal rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control with rear vents and electric handbrake are standard across the range.
But it’s on the road that Mazda6 really shines. Mazda has upped the handling ante with its G-Vectoring Control system (GVC), which improves tyre grip and performance by controlling engine torque in relation to the G-forces that are generated during steering, further stabilising vehicle behaviour and body roll. The results of this technology are quite distinguishable when compared with the previous model.
In the petrol version, Mazda’s SkyActiv philosophy allows the 2.5-litre engine to generate a useful 138kW and 250Nm, and it returns an official 6.6 litres/100km on the ADR combined cycle. Helping to achieve this attractive fuel number is Mazda’s i-ELOOP energy storage system, which collects electricity on deceleration and braking. The energy is stored in large capacitors and released when required, reducing the load on the alternator and saving fuel.
The engine is coupled to a very smooth and precise six-speed automatic transmission, and all models have paddle shift gear control.
It doesn’t take long after taking the driver’s seat to realise your surroundings have been well thought out, with a quality to the build and finish and great attention to detail and function.
Overall, the Australia’s Best Cars judges were so impressed with the Mazda6 Touring that they named it their Judges’ Choice vehicle this year.
1ST: MAZDA6 TOURING, 772
2ND: SUBARU LIBERTY 2.5i PREMIUM, 724
3RD: KIA OPTIMA GT, 722