Mazda Mazda6 Diesel 2013: Road Test

25 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mazda Mazda6 Diesel 2013: Road Test

 

Mazda Mazda6

Diesel 2013: Road Test

We take the Mazda6 diesel wagon for a five-day test with a twist – across 4500km from Brisbane to Perth

Mazda Mazda6 Atenza SKYACTIV-D Wagon

Very Long Road Test

Price Guide (recommended price before statutory delivery charges): $50,960

Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Carpet Floor Mats $169

Crash rating: Five-star ANCAP

Fuel: Diesel

Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 5.4

CO2 emissions (g/km): 141

A sporty-looking Mazda6 wagon with white leather seats and big alloy wheels is probably not the first car I would have chosen for a 4500km cross-continental drive.

Traditionally a Holden Commodore or a Ford Falcon would have been the go-to wagons to bisect Australia, from Brisbane in the east to Perth in the west. But in hindsight I’m impressed at how easily and comfortably the Japanese car made the journey.

Of the locals I met along the way, all of them seemed to like the car’s sleek design too.

Geoff from Cocklebiddy in Western Australia even saw a couple of journalists refuel a VF Commodore, and didn’t mind telling me which he preferred.

This one’s better than that new Commodore. No offence, but it is. I quite like it, said Geoff of the Mazda6 wagon.

I filled the car with 311 litres of diesel costing just over $520 in the five days it took to cross Australia, and ended up with an overall fuel consumption figure of 6.8L/100km.

While that fuel economy figure is almost a litre and a half more than the claimed 5.4L/100km, it was interesting to see the car’s instant fuel consumption of 4.5L/100km at 95km/h spike at 6.3L/100km once the speedo needle hovered over 110km/h.

Propulsion for the 1593kg wagon is provided by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel ‘SKYACTIV’ engine that pumps out a healthy 129kW/420Nm. It’s enough poke to accelerate the car from zero to 100km/h in 8.4 seconds, but where the engine really shone was high speed roll-on acceleration. Between Ceduna and Perth, long lumbering B-triple road-trains were dispatched purposefully by the Japanese wagon’s beefy mid-range torque, and unlike some diesels it doesn’t run out of puff at higher revs, either.

Throttle response was sharp and the dual-cam, turbo-intercooled engine’s power delivery is best-described as smooth and strong. The only qualm I had was the clatter that goes on. It’s not loud, but the agricultural engine acoustics were audible at anything other than cruising speeds.

The six-speed automatic gearbox never missed a beat, and even in ‘D’ was quick to shift to a lower ratio when overtaking countless grey nomads and their mobile homes. As such I never had the need to use the manual override option.

Being a SKYACTIV donk, the engine also gets a few fuel-saving tricks, such as the i-STOP (idle stop-start) system that cuts the engine when the car is halted. It proved to be a smooth and unobtrusive system in Brisbane and Perth, but didn’t take effect for much of the test.

The Mazda6 is also fitted with the i-ELOOP system. It comprises a small capacitor that can rapidly charge (via regenerative braking) and discharge electrical power to run the climate control and the stereo. Mazda reckons it can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent.

Being the top-grade variant, the Mazda6 Atenza wagon also gets a number of high-tech doodads that wouldn’t be out of a place on a high-end European luxury car, including radar cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic high beam headlights. Heated seats were also a godsend in the pre-dawn chill.

Radar-cruise control came in handy when taking hands-free Bluetooth phone calls to keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front, though on day four it became fouled by bug-splat. Solution: A quick clean of the Mazda badge and it was good to go.

The lane departure warning system also proved handy on monotonous sections of road – as did a few cans of cola – such as Australia’s longest stretch of arrow-straight road. Between Balladonia and Caiguna on the Nullarbor plain is a 146km (90 mile) stretch of road, the car transmitting a mild rumble through the steering wheel to let you know you’re meandering.

Night driving was another regular occurrence and initially a little haphazard. The first night was a kangaroo gauntlet run of sorts into Bourke; the low beams were adequate but the high beams were good, illuminating far and wide and showing up the telltale eyes of kangaroos (and a few bunnies).

The automatic high-beam system worked well for the most part too, flicking back to low beam whenever it detected headlights coming the other way – and much faster than I ever could. It was fooled by roadside markings on several occasions, but only ever briefly.

On the few occasions that the kangas leapt across the road, the Mazda6 was more than up to the task, the disc brakes decelerating the car swiftly and forcefully. Only once was a swerve around a late ‘roo incursion required, but the red wagon easily avoided the marsupial thanks to an excellent suspension setup that delivers sharp handling and sure-footedness.

Mazda’s chassis boffins have done a slap-up job of making the ‘6’ a comfortable but decisive steer, and on the sweeping corners into Broken Hill then across the NSW border towards Port Pirie, the car was a lot of fun to punt hard. It tipped into corners eagerly and the big 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/45 profile tyres provided ample grip, and the electric power steering was well-weighted in my opinion.

At the same time, it was decent on unsealed surfaces too. Heading towards the sand dunes near Eucla in West Oz, the car barrelled along choppy dirt roads at close to 100km/h without becoming twitchy or nervous. As it happens, the stability control and anti-lock brakes also work very well.

Ride quality was remarkably good for a vehicle with such engaging chassis dynamics, and comfort levels in the cabin were outstanding. The stereo was a thumper with excellent clarity, and devices are easily connected via USB cable or Bluetooth.

Mazda benchmarked the Audi A4 when developing this car, and everything from the seating position, to the seat cushioning and control layout is top-notch.

Considering I sat in the same seat for around 13 hours a day, as the solo driver, I’m surprised at how little damage was done to my derriere. The only soreness I had was my right elbow after fat-arming it for a week.

After five long days in the saddle, it’s hard to find fault with the Mazda6 oiler. It wasn’t as efficient as I’d hoped, there was some tyre roar on coarse chip roads and boot space of 451 litres is almost 70 litres less than its predecessor. But these are certainly not deal breaking issues.

Ultimately the trip was a relaxed one. There were no flat tyres, no marsupial collisions, not even a sore rump to speak of during the 4547 kilometre drive. Just smooth, leisurely sailing from coast to coast.

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Published. Wednesday, 12 June 2013

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