Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2007 New Mazda 6





The new 2007 Mazda6 Facelift was launched late last year by Cycle and Carriage Bintang Berhad at it’s 3S showroom at Lot 9 today, beside the Federal Highway.

This facelifted Mazda6 features 785 engineering changes that accompanies the expected exterior and interior cosmetic changes, making this more than a refreshing exercise to keep the car looking up to date since its launch in 2003. In fact, some have said that despite interior similarities, the pre-facelift and post-facelift model are two completely different animals when it comes to the driving experience.

The Mazda6 is one of the very few cars of which its chassis was designed specifically for it. In Mazda’s dictionary it is called the GG/GY Chassis, but it has since been adapted by Ford as the CD3 chassis for use as the base for cars like the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ. A chassis injected with Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” DNA from the very beginning is perhaps what made the Mazda6 what it is, and the reason it gained favor with motoring journalists worldwide, picking up 126 awards globally in 37 countries since it’s introduction, making it one of the most successful new-cars in Mazda’s 82-year history.
I tested both the Mazda6 2.0 and the Mazda6 2.3 Sedan. The Mazda6 2.0 is pretty well equipped, though the absence of automatic climate control makes it lose out to the other cars in its class which all have the dual zone auto feature. You get the following equipment with the

Mazda 6 2.0 liter Sedan:
2.0L (1,999cc) in-line 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve, EFI & S-VT variable valve timing – 149PS at 6,500rpm and 187Nm of Torque at 4,000rpm
5 Speed Auto Transmission (ACTIVEMATIC) with manual shifting
205/55/R16 Bridgestone Turanza Tyres
5pcs 16″ Alloy Rims
4W-ABS+EBD
Head Light Levelling Control
Double Exhaust Tailpipe
Jack Knife Key with Remote Keyless Entry
Immobilizer
Power Windows
Central Locking & Window Locks
Leather Wrap Steering Wheel c/w Audio & Auto Cruise Controller
Leather Wrap Gear Knob
Audio c/w MP3 & 6 in-dash CD Changer
Tilt & Telescopic Adjustable Steering Column
Instrument Panel Light Control
Dual Front Airbags
ISOFIX Child Seat Fittings
Floor Console with Double-Bottom Front-Armrest Box
Alarm System
Reverse Sensors
Safety Kits
Stainless Steel Scuff Plates
No Plate Base
Carpet Mats

As for the Mazda6 2.3 Sedan, you get a more sportier package, complete with bodykit and sunroof.
Detailed specs:
2.3L (2,261cc) in-line 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve, EFI & S-VT variable valve timing – 169PS at 6,500rpm and 211Nm of Torque at 4,000rpm
5 Speed Auto/Manual - Transmission (ACTIVEMATIC)
215/45/R17 Bridgestone Potenza RE050 Tyres
5 pcs 17″ Alloy Rims
4W-ABS+EBD
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) & Traction Control Systems
HID with Grey Bezel Headlamp
Head Light Levelling Control
Fog Lamp
Double Chrome Tailpipe
Aerostyle Bumper
Side Skirt & Rear Spoiler
Auto Climate Control
Jack Knife Key with Remote Keyless Entry
Immobilizer
Super Lock System
Central Locking & Window Locks
Power Windows
Electric Sunroof
Leather Wrap Steering Wheel c/w Audio & Auto Cruise Controller
Leather Wrap Gear Knob
Audio c/w MP3 & 6 in-dash CD Changer
Tilt & Telescopic Adjustable Steering Column
Multi Info Display
Black Out Meter Cluster
Instrument Panel Light Control
Dual Front Airbags
Leather Seats
Power Adjustable Driver Seat with 3 Memories
ISOFIX Child Seat Fittings
Floor Console with Double-Bottom Front-Armrest Box
Sunvisors with Lamp, Vanity Mirror & Ticket Holder (Driver & Passenger)
Alarm System
Reverse Sensors
Safety Kits
Stainless Steel Scuff Plates
No Plate Base
Carpet Mats

Both engines are based on a similar block, with identical bores but the 2.3 liter has a longer stroke to increase its displacement. You get S-VT Sequential Valve Timing to smoothen out the torque curve and help with fuel consumption, as well as VIS (Variable Intake System) to match air flow path length, hence affecting its velocity according to engine speed. The 2.3 liter engine is now EURO3 compliant.

A 5-speed auto gearbox is available on both the 2.0 and 2.3 liter models. Mazda did something different with the 5 ratios of this gearbox, instead of having 3 normal cogs and 2 overdrive cogs like its competitors in similar vehicle class; it offers a 4 normal and 1 overdrive cog setup. This provides for better acceleration – leaving one overdrive gear for highway cruising. You lose out on ridiculously low RPM during high speed cruising like the Accord’s 3,000-odd RPM at 150km/h, but the better take-off acceleration more than makes up for it.

Gear ratios for the 5-speed automatic gearbox for both the 2.0 and 2.3 liter cars are:
Gear Ratios (1st) - 3.620
Gear Ratios (2nd) - 1.925
Gear Ratios (3rd) - 1.285
Gear Ratios (4th) - 0.933
Gear Ratios (5th) - 0.692
Gear Ratios (Reverse) - 2.648

Like the Mazda3, the Mazda6 seating position was slightly higher than what you would expect from a car with such a sporty exterior outlook. The Mazda6 employs a more classic gauge layout rather than the three-pod layout of the Mazda3. You get a conventional meter panel with the 2.0 liter sedan, while the Mazda6 2.3 liter Sedan gets self-illuminating meters. The 2.0 liter sedan’s fabric seats are nice and supportive, and feature manual adjustment control, while the 2.3 liter sedan is wrapped with dark leather and the driver’s seat features 8-way fully electric control with memory. The interior color scheme is very well coordinated; with the main color scheme being gray, with bits of aluminum and cubic print featuring either black wood grain or dark grey.

The 2.0 liter engine of the Mazda6 2.0 is the same one as the unit in the Mazda3 2.0, but the engine sounds so much quieter in the Mazda6. This is due to the superior soundproofing of the Mazda6. Control panels in the floor of the Mazda6 contain circular depressions that vibrate out of phase to cancel vibrations and keep the cabin quiet. Sound insulation in 18 major locations and a new engine mounting system helps to keep noise out of the passenger compartment.
The Mazda6 is a nice drive, you get a nice D-segment sedan, albeit a small-D, but this is likely the most driver-oriented D-segment car in its class. The car is not floaty at fast highway speeds, feels very well-grounded, and despite quite an amount of body roll (I don’t think this suspension is tuned for all-out sportiness), you just have to trust the car not to give up and you and it doesn’t disappoint. It handles much like what a well balanced FF car should, if pushed too hard it slowly begins to under steer, but lift off the accelerator pedal and the nose should correct itself provided you exercise good steering wheel control. While some have said the previous Mazda6 pre-facelift version is a lot more aggressive and raw, this one appears very well behaved to me, which might be a turn-off for some people who loved the pre-facelift, but to me let’s leave the unrefined aggression to the Mazda3, the Mazda6 has to go Zoom-Zoom in a more refined and classy way.

The front suspension is a high-mounted double wishbone design while the rear is of an E-type multi-link design with low-profile springs and angled dampers that minimizes intrusion into the car’s interior. The body is an evolved version of the Mazda Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System body (MAIDAS). It is a high-safety design includes front and rear crushable zones to absorb impact energy and a rigid “triple H” structure that forms a safety cage around the passenger compartment. In a front or side collision, impact energy is absorbed and channeled throughout the entire body, away from the passenger cage. At the rear, a straight, large-section rear frame soaks up energy from a collision to keep passengers protected and safe.
Brakes are grippy indeed thanks to ventilated discs at the front and discs at the rear coupled with a powerful vacuum booster and high-rigidity zero-loss brake hoses. It’s a very good thing the Mazda6 comes with this set of brake equipment as with the way you’ll want to drive this car, you’ll need them. It just inspires hard driving that’ll leave your tyres and brakepads stinky at the end of the drive.

Honestly, engine power is somewhat lacking, but none of the D-segment cars in this class in Malaysia can be described as powerful. The Accord 2.4 is only satisfactory, and I haven’t tested the Camry 2.4 yet, but with similar power to weight ratios it should be about the same. I’d say a good balance of power for the Mazda6 would be the 3.0 V6 version unavailable in our markets, as the Mazda6 MPS’s direct injection turbocharged 2.3 liter might just be too wild for some people. I took the 2.3 liter up Genting and the experience was far from effortless. It’s expected though, with 169hp on a 1,430kg car and a normally aspirated engine torque curve. It feels like the 2.3 offers not much over the 2.0 liter.

Safety features include ABS, EBD, and twin airbags. The 2.3 liter has DSC traction control, but to be honest the car is so well sorted out that you’ll rarely activate it unless you have bad surfaces with less than desirable grip – for example a sandy road.

Other accessories include a sunroof for the 2.3 liter model, which includes controls for both tilt and opening size. Driving up Genting with the sunroof open proved to be a fun experience, but other than occasionally opening it when our local weather permits, most of the time you’ll just feel happy that your car is well equipped enough to have a sunroof yet not have much chance to use it. The ICE system interface is done up in a lovely piano black, with large and friendly buttons, and features a 6-CD in-dash changer. The sound system has really good bass, but sound starts to distort a little at higher volumes. Climate control is a single zone auto unit for the 2.3 liter, while the 2.0 liter has a single zone manual unit. The Mazda6 loses out here; its competitors have dual zone climate control. There is a fuel computer integrated into the ICE system and climate control display, you can get readings such as remaining mileage in km, average liter per 100 km fuel consumption, average speed, and current fuel consumption in real time. Neat!

It’s hard to make a case for the Mazda6 if you want the large “boss car” look like what the Toyota Camry provides, and the Mazda6’s interior is smaller compared to other D-segment cars, but if you want to move up from the C-segment but still want a sportier drive that focuses on driver enjoyment and not feel like you’re wafting around without feeling very connected to the road, the Mazda6 is an excellent choice.

Interior feel is superior to its competitors; however it is not yet up to the level of European manufacturers, but build quality is so much better than any of its locally assembled competitors. Armrests are made of a thicker, laminated material for a softer feel, and vertical grip handles are incorporated into both front and rear armrests. Gaps between panels are flushed nicely. An example of this is the 1.5mm gap which separates the headlamp unit from the front bumper, and another similar gap where the rear bumper meets the rear fender - this level of precision according to Mazda, is normally found only in luxury cars.

The Mazda6 2.0 is priced at RM141,937 (on-the-road without insurance) while the 2.3 version is priced at RM162,318 (on-the-road without insurance). Both are fully imported CBU units from Japan.

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