SIX FOR SIX. Renaldi Hutasoit takes the 2016 Mazda6 for a spin and puts the saloon through its paces on the roads of Jakarta
Now, this might sound like a bold statement, but the exterior design of the New Mazda 6 is one of my top three most handsome four-door saloons available today, regardless of price. High praise indeed, but well deserved. A designer friend told me that a great design should have that “love at first” sight effect, and the new Mazda6 has that in spades.
Music to my Ears
Thankfully, Mazda also focused on making sure that the new Mazda6 has substance to back up its good looks. This sporty saloon is clearly targeted towards people who love driving more than being rear seat passengers. To make the Mazda6 a great driver’s car, Mazda has what it calls the SKYACTIV technology implemented in the engine, transmission and chassis. Working together they provide great pleasure in driving.
The Mazda6’s SKYACTIV-G 2.5 liter four cylinder in-line DOHC 16-valve engine offers good response and pulling power, with a respectable output of about 184 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque. On paper, this is nothing to be bullish about; but it works quite effectively, allowing the car to go from 0 to 100kph in the middle part of the seven second bracket. Not only does it perform well, when you really push the car to its higher RPM range, it purrs like a vintage four cylinder sport engine. As manufacturers are competing to have the quietest engine, hearing great mechanical sounds is like breathing fresh air after a long night stuck in a cigar room.
Of course, the Mazda6 engine is not built solely for sporting duties, but also with fuel efficiency in mind. This is where the i-stop start/stop system comes in. Now, engine start/stop systems are available in practically all quality cars today; but for me, the Mazda6’s system is the least intrusive compared similarly equipped cars that I test-drove in the past. Nevertheless, even with the i-stop system my best fuel consumption over three days of test-driving in normal city traffic was 14.6L per 100km, or 6.8 kilometers per liter. That’s pretty average for a 2.5L engine on a midsize sedan.
Power from the SKYACTIV-G engine is transmitted to the road via the SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic transmission. Mazda claims this new generation of highly-efficient automatic transmission achieves excellent torque transfer efficiency through a wider lock-up range and features the best attributes of all transmission types. For all the non-piston heads out there, this simply means the SKYACTIV-DRIVE combines all the advantages of conventional automatic, CVT and dual clutch transmissions. I love the way the SKYACTIV-DRIVE feels when changing up through the gears at full throttle or with the paddles, as it really delivers a firm kick in the back just like a great dual clutch transmission. However, in normal driving, the SKYACTIV-DRIVE is also buttery smooth. What I love more than the feel is the intelligence of the system: I never felt any lag because the car was in a wrong gear, especially in Sport mode.
The SKYACTIV-CHASSIS is another gem on the Mazda6. Some might say that the ride feels a bit harsh, but in my opinion, it isn’t any harsher than most European saloons. For good handling we need body control, and this can only be achieved with tauter suspension. Furthermore, the Mazda6 is miles and miles away from being uncomfortable. Speed bumps are handled with elegance, while corners can be attacked with vigor without fear of unsettling the car’s balance.
“Speed bumps are handled with elegance, while corners can be attacked with vigor without fear of unsettling the car’s balance”
The interior also boasts a superb level of quality and excellent ergonomics. Finding the ideal driving position was a breeze with the tilt and telescopic steering column and eight-way power adjustable driver seat. All leather seats are comfortable to sit on and the MZD Audio Connect system offers extra on-the-road entertainment for passengers. Your view across dashboard will be centered on the seven inch touchscreen display that sits on top. While the positioning of toggles and switches could be confusing at times, the logic behind the MZD Connect user interface is spot on, making it easy to operate without ever having even glanced at the user manual.
Investing a sum just north of Rp.600 million on a midsize Mazda sedan might still sound a bit off for some people. Indonesia is all about brand popularity, and for this market segment, Mazda still holds the short end of the stick. This is truly unfortunate, because the Mazda6 is still a great car that just happens to find itself in a less-than-ideal market. So, if you’re in the market for a sporty saloon and if you prefer to drive yourself around, be bold and have a go at the 2016 Mazda6.
2016 Mazda6 Specs:
Transmission: Automatic 6-speed