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Mazda 6 review: Dripping with 6 appeal
IF it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck (though if you ask me, tasting it would have been simpler).
But to borrow and mangle the expression, if it looks like a luxury car and drives like a luxury car, then it might be the new Mazda 6.
"New" is a bit debatable here, because the latest 6 is the result of a heavy facelift for a car that has been around since 2012.
That said, by car maker standards the makeover was a major one - so even if the flagship Mazda is not exactly a new car, plenty of it is new.
The front end gets a significantly larger lashing of chrome and a majestic new grille that might as well have been nicked from a Jaguar.
What is notable at the rear is a slightly more sculpted boot lid, and the car retains its lithe, lean body.
Inside, things have been completely revamped. Aside from the steering wheel and various bits of trim, very little was carried over from the last Mazda 6, with the result that it looks like a new model in there.
And it is a posh new model, too. The plastics have been upgraded, the styling is even more understated and classy, and a suede-like, microfibre material on the dashboard adds a touch of design flair that you seldom see, this side of an Audi.
All but the cheapest 2.0 Standard version of the Mazda 6 (there are six models in total) come with such luxury car fare as satellite navigation, an 11-speaker sound system from a big name in audio (Bose), and a head up display system.
They are also commendably well equipped with safety gear, most of it designed to keep you from hitting something: blind spot monitors, a collision warning system, that sort of stuff.
Mind you, at S$106,800 (including Certificate of Entitlement), the cheapest Mazda 6 is only S$5,000 more expensive than the priciest version of the smaller Mazda 3, so it is worth looking at for the square footage alone.
At the top of the heap is the 2.5 Luxury version that The Business Times drove. Properly plush, it has a glass sunroof, ventilated front seats that can suction the sweat from your buttocks, and a new engine that can deactivate two cylinders imperceptibly to save fuel (think of how the half flush system in your loo reduces water consumption).
Naturally, you will enjoy it most when all the pistons are firing instead. It is perky, sounds nice when revved, and is a terrific complement to the Mazda's fine handling.
The facelift brought changes to the suspension mounts, the springs and even the car's body, which has been strengthened in places. The result is a car that is just as nimble as before but calmer over bumps. The Mazda still rides more firmly than competitors, but keen drivers will find the ride/handling balance beautifully judged.
Less impressive is the infotainment system, which is starting to show its age. The navigation is a pain to use, too, and the 360-degree monitor (a new feature) has disappointingly low-quality images.
But the Mazda 6 is otherwise hard to fault, especially at its price level.
Our pick is the 2.0 Executive version (S$114,800), which probably offers the most Mazda for your moolah. There is really only one major difference between it and a luxury car: it does not cost as much as one.
MAZDA 6 2.5 LUXURY
Engine 2,488cc, 16V, inline 4
Power 194hp at 6,000rpm
Torque 258Nm at 4,000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 221kmh
0-100kmh 8.4 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.1L/100km
Price S$140,800 with COE