Mazda Mazda6 LTD Sedan 2013 Review

Mazda Mazda6 LTD Sedan 2013 Review

If we’re talking movies, the last one in the trilogy is usually the worst. Most often it’s the first, and sometimes it’s the second (like The Empire Strikes Back and Aliens). This Mazda6 LTD sedan is the third in the trilogy of test cars Mazda NZ bestowed on us, but it’s no Return of the Jedi.

mazda6-ltd-sedan-rqWe started with the base model GLX, had a small intermission for an ice cream before getting the better-endowed GSX (both as station wagons), and now the

premium model LTD diesel in saloon form.

mazda6-ltd-sedan-sIt oozes class from afar, and when you get in close you’ll see the off-white leather perfectly complements the Soul Red paint (which is a cost option). The Mazda6 is the best-looking sedan in its class by far, and I’m quite partial to some of its competitors.  The KODO ‘Soul of Motion’ design makes it a looker in station wagon form, but the sedan profile is even more alluring.

mazda6-ltd-sedan-inside-fOf course, you’d think that having the sedan means economising on the boot space. While it’s not like the Alfa Romeo 156 where the station wagon had less boot space than the sedan, the Mazda6 nearly pulls the same trick. There’s 451 litres of space in the station wagon and 438 in the sedan. The wagon does have the ability to expand this to a more usable space with over 1500 litres of room, though.

mazda6-ltd-sedan-r-seatOccupant comfort is better in the LTD – the seats feel nicer (they’re adjustable electrically in many different ways, and the driver’s has memory settings, too), the perforated leather is of reasonable quality, and you can kick back listening to the 11-speaker premium Bose stereo. Rear legroom is good, too, despite the large boot.

You will spend some time with the instruction manual figuring out what the multitude of buttons do. Then you’ll be able to connect your phone and music player via Bluetooth, turn the AFS on (Adaptive Front-lighting System, which swivels the lights up to 15 degrees to help you see where you’re turning), and figure out the radar cruise control. This is given away by the flat badge in the front grille which hides the radar unit.

mazda6-ltd-sedan-dashboardThe 2.2-litre 129kW diesel puts in a solid showing. The pace isn’t frenetic, but it’s torquey enough with 420Nm for easy cruising with a laden car. The Skyactiv 6-speed automatic changes its response based on your driving attitude, giving you quicker downshifts if it detects more spirited driving, and shorter upshifts for cruising. Longer trips should see your economy in the mid-5 litres per hundred kilometres range.

Fuel consumption is reduced by the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system which captures braking energy in a capacitor and uses it to power various devices within the car. Mazda has loaded the full Skyactiv suite onto the 6 LTD, including i-stop which stops the engine when the car is stationary.

When you’re moving, though, the steering is very precise. It is electric power-assisted steering (EPAS); its only downside is a lack of smoothness in all models when you’re manoeuvring at low speed. This is common on other manufacturers’ vehicles, too.

mazda6-ltd-sedan-buttons-2What you get in the LTD is the full suite of i-Activesense technologies which include radar cruise control (useful out of town; not so useful in Auckland), Blind Spot Monitoring (useful mainly because the Mazda6 has an enormous blind spot, as mentioned in the other models’ reviews), lane departure warning and forward obstruction warning (useful because you’ll be distracted by the many cool features and buttons in the Mazda6), high beam control (useful when it works, to stop you dazzling other drivers), and finally the Rear Cross Traffic Alert (useful when backing out of parking spaces if you can’t see what’s coming).

This new Mazda6 range feels like it’s flirting with sports car handling. If you put this up against a fast mid-90s sports car – something like a Subaru WRX or Mitsubishi Lancer Evo – the Mazda6 would undoubtedly lose the traffic lights grand prix, but once you get into the really twisty corners, I’m certain that the modern advances in chassis dynamics plus the plethora of electronic aids would leave them in the dust.

Downsides? Well, as mentioned in the review of the GSX, the multiple ways to access the interface for the media centre and vehicle functions is a bit confusing at first – there’s the 5.8-inch touchscreen, the buttons around the touchscreen, and the commander dial.

It’s hard to pick the Mazda6 LTD as the clear winner against the GSX and GLX in this trilogy of reviews. The GSX has a slight edge in value for money and at $51,995 is almost $9000 less than the LTD’s $60,790 (which is a bold pricing move by Mazda). The GLX is definitely the Spartan fleet motor and, while good, you’ll always wish you at least got the GSX. I really liked the LTD – it’s like the director’s cut with all its flamboyance and technical wizardry, but that’s because I didn’t have to buy it. It’s a brilliant car, but is it nine thousand dollars more brilliant than the GSX?

Price: from $60,790 (not including Soul Red paint)

Pros

  • It’s so good-looking that you will be slavering over the paintwork in years to come
  • Blind spot monitoring system negates the blind spot
  • Heaps of safety features – it should be virtually impossible to crash unless you are an absolute reckless idiot

Cons

  • Starting to get up there in price
  • It’s a very diesel-y sounding diesel

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