Sophisticated new Mazda6 unveiled
The all-new Mazda6 will go on sale in New Zealand in March 2013.
Mazda NZ has released full details of the range to coincide with the car’s first Australasian public appearance at the Sydney Motor Show.
The third-generation Mazda6 is larger, lighter and much more sophisticated than the model it replaces, and the sedan surprisingly so – it is 130mm longer than the outgoing model. The wagon is slightly shorter in length (by 65mm) and wheelbase.
Although Mazda has not explicitly said so, the sedan’s larger dimensions and more flamboyant exterior style are designed with Asian and American buyers in mind. The more compact and subtle wagon is aimed at Europe.
The Mazda6 is the second model to feature the Japanese maker’s full suite of SkyActiv weight-saving and low-friction technologies.
It s up to 130kg lighter than the previous model and will offer class-leading fuel economy, from 4.8 litres per 100km for the 2.2-litre diesel to 6.3 litres for the 2.5-litre petrol. All models have six-speed automatic transmissions.
There will be three grades: GLX (with a 2.0-litre engine), GSX and Limited. Bluetooth, a colour touchscreen with reversing camera and either 17- or 19-inch alloy wheels will be standard across the range.
Integrated TomTom navigation will be fitted to the top two specification levels.
The Mazda6 Limited will feature a range of high-tech driver assistance technologies under the i-Activsense brand.
These will include smart brake support, which can act autonomously to prevent nose-to-tail collisions at low speed, automatic control of high-beam lights, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and active cruise control.
Redefined the medium segment
The first-generation Mazda6 redefined the medium segment when it was launched a decade ago, taking Mazda from a maker of ordinary mainstream cars to a brand with aspirational qualities.
The car has maintained segment leadership in New Zealand for most of the decade since, but it is unlikely that the new third-generation model will have anything like the impact of that first car.
That is because the medium-car market is only half the size it was in 2002, as buyers downsize and/or migrate to crossover vehicles.
There is also no hatchback model in the new range: a body shape which accounts for 21% of sales in the current New Zealand Mazda6 lineup.
Mazda NZ expects that half of those hatchback buyers will move to the sedan, while a third will go for the CX-5. It acknowledges it may lose some customers to other brands.
Managing director Andrew Clearwater is projecting a healthy 19% market share for the new 6, but acknowledges the new model is going in a different direction to the old.
“It will still have an impact in terms of benchmarking style in what is still otherwise a very conservative segment. But there is an unknown,” he says.
“I think the wagon will appeal to the traditional wagon market – currently more than half of all Mazda6 sales – but what we’re not sure about is how wide the appeal of the sedan will be. It might reach up into European and large-car buyers.
“There’s a big focus on quality with this car and Mazda has definitely benchmarked European cars.
"Interior quality is probably the one area where we’ve let ourselves down in the past, but what I see with the new Mazda6 is that we’re now definitely moving into that domain.”
Mazda NZ would not comment on pricing, which will be announced closer to the March 2013 launch date.
David Linklater in The National Business Review’s motoring writer