Driven: Mazda 6 2.5Posted: August 26, 2015
Funny story. I took part in a focus group for a marketing research company last week, and part of the ‘research’ involved me doing a spot of mystery shopping. Essentially I had to head down to a number of showrooms, look at a number of new cars, as well as gauge the level of service provided.
Of the five cars that I was supposed to ‘check out’ on the shortlist that I was provided with, I had driven four of them previously, so in a way I pretty much already knew what to expect even before stepping into the showroom. The fifth one though, which I had not driven, I had to spend a bit more time with.
That fifth car was the Mazda 6, and I remembered thinking as I sat inside the car at the showroom, “Damn, this car is really impressive. I must take it out for a test drive.”
So here we are then. I suppose it speaks volumes of the quality of Mazda’s saloon, that I feel compelled to start a blog to write about it after merely sitting in it. But then again, the 6 has always been a favourite among keen drivers anyway, thanks to its enthusiastic driving demeanour that makes a mockery of its size and class. It’s a car that says that even though you may have kids and practical considerations now, there’s no reason why you should be deprived of fun behind the wheel.
The 6 has been updated slightly for 2015, and externally the changes are limited to a mildly restyled front end with new LED and daytime running lights. Small changes they might be, but they do keep it looking fresh, it must be said.
It’s the inside though that really astounds you. The pre-facelift 6’s cabin was alright, although there were still a few bits of hard plastic that felt a tad cheap to the touch. This new one though completely blows the old car’s interior out of the water. I mean, just look at the materials. They’re virtually night and day, and you do have to experience it yourself to see the difference.
It’s not uncommon these days for cars to come fairly well-equipped, but even so, the 6, at least in the test car’s top-spec Luxury trim, comes with some really impressive equipment. For one, it has a heads-up display. Mai siao siao okay…
And even an electrically-operated rear windscreen blind…
Which puts you in the shade at the touch of a button (on the far right)
The other buttons are no less interesting too. The top left corner is the traction control, of course. The one that says i-stop indicates Mazda’s engine start-stop system. The bottom left corner is for the blind spot monitoring system, and the bottom right is for the car’s lane departure warning system, which warns you if you’re drifting out of your lane, and gently steers you back in if you refuse to comply.
There’s even a system called i-ELOOP, which recovers lost energy generated through braking, and stores them somewhere, to be used later to power the car’s electrical systems. This means the engine can breathe easy, as it doesn’t have to burn too much fuel to generate electricity for the car, thereby helping with fuel economy. Very clever, and it’s all very race car-like.
In fact, you might as well be driving a race car, given the 6’s ability to make you feel like you’re driving a sports car rather than a large family saloon. The car feels light on its feet, and is extremely nimble to drive when you’re seeking out some driving entertainment. The 2.5-litre engine too is a lively little number, full of energy and verve, especially when you activate Sport mode, as below:
Overall, I remain much impressed by the updated Mazda 6. Not only because of its upmarket, feature-laden interior, but also because it remains one of the most fun-to-drive cars, anywhere, period. Who says market research is boring?