It’s no secret that the second generation Mazda6 is a very good car. It’s known for being dynamically proficient, well equipped and sharply dressed. So when it came time for a mid-lifecycle facelift how could Mazda fix a car that just ain’t broke? Car and SUV spent a week with the refreshed top-spec Mazda6 Limited to get all the answers.
In an attempt to enhance the 6’s successful formula rather than complicate it Mazda has kept the facelift light with some subtle cosmetic and mechanical updates. Exterior styling sees the inclusion of the current Mazda corporate face. This includes new raked-back headlights, matching fog lamps and a new grille with a more prominent Mazda badge. Plenty of hints from Mazda’s sports cars are in place on the Mazda6 with angular shapes and strong character lines. At the rear there are minimal changes but the clear LED two-piece taillights, and the curved boot lid spoiler extend the highly styled appeal. Our tested 6 in Limited trim came with a new 18-inch alloy wheel design that set off the vehicle’s lines well and matched up nicely with the elegant ‘Clear Water Blue’ paint work. Overall, the Mazda6 styling is class-leading and while it may be too curvaceous for timid tastes, its fluidic design demands attention.
Inside, the Mazda6 receives revised materials including new main plastics and contrasting silver trim. Piano black plastic surrounds the centre stack and the dashboard is nicely tactile and symmetrical. The instrument cluster is now easier to read with larger numbering on the silver rimmed dials. Although the 6’s interior looks great uniformly illuminated in orange, the main centre digital display is still cluttered and can be difficult to read without taking your eyes off the road despite its high position. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is also very busy with the integration of more than a dozen buttons and toggles that function well but a simplified approach could have created a more upmarket feel. That said, the build quality feels excellent and there is generous head and shoulder space for front occupants. The back seat allows for excellent legroom and in hatchback form can be split 60:40 and folded forward by simply pulling a latch in the boot. Cargo capacity is 519-litres in the hatch; fold down the backseat and this increases to an impressive 1,702-litres.
In terms of equipment the Mazda6 Limited comes well loaded. The full leather interior looks great and the front seats are soft and supportive with electronic adjustment on the driver’s side. Elsewhere, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, cruise control, dual zone climate air-con, alloy pedals, 8-speaker BOSE audio system, trip computer, keyless entry and Bluetooth are all standard kit. The only notable omission is rear parking sensors which may be a stretch in this price bracket but would add confidence to reversing with the vehicle’s high rear deck.
Under the bonnet Mazda has continued with the same 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder petrol engine and power and torque figures remain unchanged at 125kW and 226Nm respectively. However, some clever tweaks have seen fuel economy improved to 8.7l/100km combined. While you wouldn’t call it a full-strength performance engine the four-cylinder allows the Mazda6 to get up and move at a fair clip. It’s not over-endowed with low/mid range torque so there’s little action below 4000rpm, but push it harder and you’re rewarded with a raspy exhaust note and a rapid turn of pace.
The hard-revving engine was mated to a 5-speed auto transmission in our test vehicle. This ‘Activematic’ auto box can’t compete with higher-tech DSG offerings but offers smooth and sharp shifts. It won’t be caught hunting for the right ratio on steep hills and has a good knack for reading driver intent. If manual changes are required there are steering-wheel paddle shifters and a sequential change option on the gear stick.
Of all the mechanical facelift changes the most noticeable are the steering and suspension work. The power steering has been revised for better feel and the double wishbone front/multi-link rear suspension has been given a new tune and bushes. The results are impressive with the 6 building further on its existing reputation for strong dynamic ability. The bias is more towards sporty rather than comfort and while it rides firm the 6 still has enough compliance to absorb most bumps and dips. On twisted roads the Mazda6 sits flat during cornering with only a hint of understeer when pushed. It’s clear that the vehicle’s chassis could easily accommodate more power.
The steering has been sharpened up and the feel is neither too heavy, or too light but about the right measure for a mid-size sedan/hatch. The facelift has also brought an improvement in ride comfort with very little engine noise entering the cabin while cruising and road roar significantly reduced.
When it comes to safety the Mazda6 has the right equipment onboard. There’s stability and traction control, ABS brakes, seatbelt pretensioners and front, side and curtain airbags included across the entire range.
The facelifted 2010 Mazda6 really is mission accomplished for Mazda. The 6’s strengths in styling and dynamics have been furthered and it’s more refined and higher quality than before. The cabin is spacious and practically focused and there’s just enough power under-foot to keep keen drivers entertained. In a competitive segment populated with quality vehicles the Mazda6 still deserves a place among its front-runners.
What we like:
- Attractive styling
- Improved steering and suspension
- Nicely appointed and spacious interior
What we don’t like:
- Main digital control screen difficult to read
- Lack of low range torque
Words and Photos: Adam Mamo
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Mazda6 Limited (2010) – Specifications
Transmission 5-speed Activematic (auto)
Engine Type MZR I4 DOHC 16-valve
Displacement cc 2,488
Fuel Tank Capacity L 64
Fuel Type 91RON
Fuel Economy — EC Combined (manual/auto) L/100km 8.5/8.8
Emission Standard Euro 4
Emission Output — CO2 Value (manual/auto) g/km 201/208
Maximum Power kW/rpm 125/6,000
Maximum Torque Nm/rpm 226/4,000
Suspension Type — Front/Rear Double Wishbone/Multi Link
Brake Type — Front/Rear Ventilated Disc/Solid Disc
Brake Diameter — Front/Rear mm 299/280
Overall Length mm 4,755
Overall Width mm 1,795
Overall Height mm 1,440
Overhang — Front/Rear mm 980/1,050
Wheelbase mm 2,725 Track — Front/Rear mm 1,550/1,550
Ground Clearance — laden mm 122
Cargo Volume — rear seats in use (VDA) L 499
Cargo Volume – rear seats folded L 1,702