Mazda6 Touring Diesel – wisdom, intelligence and harmony
Mazda has been making motor vehicles in Japan since 1931.
Its predecessor, the Toyo Kogyo Company, had made machine tools from 1920 until 1931 when its first vehicle, the Mazdago, ran off the production line.
It was a three-wheeled autorickshaw with handle-bars and a one cylinder air-cooled engine.
During the Second World War, Toyo Kogyo made armaments, most notably the Type 99 Arisaka infantry rifle.
By the 1960s, Mazda was investing heavily in the development of Wankel rotary engines, and is now the sole world manufacturer.
The first Mazda sedan that took my eye was the Bertone-styled Mazda 1500 in 1966.
My father had considered buying the 1500, but bought a locally-made HR Holden instead.
It had only been a generation since the Second World War. Japanese cars were yet to be trusted and there were un-founded doubts about reliability.
A friend bought a Mazda Capella in the 1970s and, in 1980, I almost bought a Mazda 626, but opted for a Chrysler Sigma with a larger engine and less longevity.
Many 626s followed in the 1980s, and in 1983 the Mazda 626 was the Wheels magazine Car Of The Year.
Ford even manufactured a variant of the 626 in Australia, the Telstar.
My partner owned a Telstar TX5 Ghia with an electronic dashboard, but it still wasn’t exactly a Mazda.
In 2003, Mazda changed their numbering system and released the Mazda6, which is the subject of this month’s road test.
Having never actually owned a Mazda myself, I desperately wanted to like this car, as I had pencilled it onto my shopping list.
I liked the way it looked, from the front.
I liked the quality of the finish and the goodies inside.
Everything was going great until I turned the key (sorry, keyless start), if you know what I mean.
I just didn’t like the way it sounded.
Having been spoilt by the quietness of Mercedes, BMW and VW diesels, in ascending order, I was a little surprised by how noisy the motor was, or at least how noisy it seemed compared to the formidably quieter competition.
There is no shortage of go from the diesel Mazda6, with 129kW of power and 420Nm of torque.
It takes off well from a standing start and, like all diesels, it doesn’t lose momentum on hill climbs.
Back in the traffic, the i-Stop feature shuts the engine down when stopped.
While i-Stop saves fuel, it is a little disconcerting at first.
With no motor running it’s more like being parked at the traffic lights, but as soon as you take your foot off the brake pedal the motor fires up and away you go.
Going diesel in a Mazda6 comes at a $3000 price premium over the SkyActiv petrol version.
Power only drops by 7 per cent by going from petrol-powered to diesel-powered, but torque is up by a whopping 68 per cent, making the diesel feel like it has two more cylinders.
Fuel consumption overall is 18 per cent better in the oil-burner.
Even the Mazda6 base model is comprehensively equipped with keyless starting, dual-zone climate control, paddle shifter gear change, emergency brake assist, rain-sensing wipers and satellite navigation.
Going up-market to the top shelf Atenza adds leather seats, 19-inch wheels, radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a sun-roof and Bi-Xenon headlights that turn around corners.
A wagon is $1300 more than a sedan.
Overall, I can see why the Mazda 6 is a favourite among conservative bowls club members. It’s a quality product at an affordable price.
If my hearing keeps on deteriorating I soon won’t notice the clatter from the motor, and some diesel aficionados even like that sound.
Would I buy a Mazda6?
It’s still on my list.
Mazda6 Diesel Atenza Wagon
For: Build quality, reliability and retained value.
Against: Sounds like a diesel.
This car would suit: Volvo drivers and older doctors, like myself.
2.2 litre 16 valve 4 cylinder diesel
129 kW power @ 4,500 rpm
420 Nm torque @ 2,000 rpm
6 speed automatic transmission
5.4 l/100 km (combined)
$55,000 on the road Qld, Vic and NT
$55,500 on the road where IQ’s are higher
Only 4 per cent of passenger vehicles sold in Australia are diesel-powered.
The Mazda6 diesel is not currently sold in the USA.
The name “Mazda” is taken from the Zoroastrian god of wisdom, intelligence and harmony.
Doctor Clive Fraser