NOW WITH ADDED ZOOM-ZOOM
If a manufacturer said it was planning to replace its existing engine with a larger capacity, more powerful unit, yet had its sights on delivering the same levels of economy, improving refinement and lowering CO2 you’d think it was an impossible mission. I’m betting your first thought was to expect yet another BMW. Would it surprise you to learn that this time it’s a product from Mazda that’s promising the moon on a stick?
The Japanese car maker has revamped its already competent 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and the result is a 2.2-litre unit, complete with some clever technology to boost refinement and reduce the all-important fuel consumption and CO2 figures. When fitted to the Mazda6 it displays a level of competence that’s destined to give its rivals a few sleepless nights. Along with the new engine – it replaces the 2.0-litre unit in the UK – a clever blind spot warning system is being introduced plus minor tweaks to equipment levels in what can be viewed as the world’s least obvious range revamp, until you drive the car.
Available in three states of tune (123bhp and 229lb ft, 161bhp and 266lb ft plus a flagship 182bhp unit delivering 295lb ft), it’s hoped that there will be something for everyone. The CO2 figures are 149g/km for the high power unit and 147g/km for the other two engines. The technology behind the numbers is no less interesting; the engine boasts an aluminium lower block structure, reduced compression ratio, increased injector pressure and reprofiled tips for the variable vane turbocharger.
The changes are obviously a result of the desire to reduce consumption and emissions, whilst boosting refinement and enhancing the driving experience. Consider all those boxes ticked; when it’s on the road in the real world the Mazda6 with its new engine is an impressive piece of kit. The first test car, in high-spec Sport trim and powered by the mid-range 161bhp engine, was hushed at speed, quiet at urban velocities and proved a flexible companion even when crawling along in second or third gear. A light and accurate manual gearshift – an auto is sadly not imminent – and responsive and direct steering was the icing on the cake.
A further drive in the flagship 182bhp engined car only served to confirm the mid-size Mazda’s underlying talent. Rapid progress is easy and enjoyable, yet all you hear from under the bonnet is a thrum of activity not a growling, clattering monster of an engine.
The Mazda6’s five trim levels and three bodystyles should be familiar, yet this newly invigorated diesel line-up delivers a considerable leap forward in all the key areas: running costs, refinement and drivability. The car might have kept its good looks but it’s added greater substance to its style.
RIVALS: FORD MONDEO 2.2 TDCi TITANIUM X, HONDA ACCORD 2.2 i-DTEC EX GT, VAUXHALL INSIGNIA ELITE 2.0 CDTi
- Engine: 2184cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 182bhp at 3,500rpm
- Max Torque: 295lb ft at 1,800 – 3,000rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,600kg
- Combined Consumption: 50.4mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 149g/km (C)
- 0-62mph: 8.3secs
- Max speed: 136mph
- Insurance Group: 13