Despite Mazda's troubled finances, the carmaker is charging ahead with a full suite of new high-efficiency and more-worldly automobiles — look at the refreshed Mazda3 or the new Mazda CX-5 for examples. The latest model to get this treatment is the all-new third-generation Mazda6, which is debuting at the 2012 Moscow International Automobile Salon.
The new 2014 model features a slightly smaller and lighter body, two high-efficiency engines and a new regenerative braking system.
Clearly, the new Mazda6 is strongly influenced by the Takeri concept and the CX-5. The previous Mazda6 never received the carmaker's now-defunct "smiley" design language seen on the Mazda3 and Mazda2, but instead it retains the more athletic look of the first-generation Mazda3. Like in the new 2013 Ford Fusion, the Mazda6's side mirrors are mounted on the door rather than the side A-pillar, for aerodynamic reasons. The carmaker says the front wheels have been pushed nearly four inches forward to reduce front overhang, while the rear decklid has been shortened. The rear features a wider trunk opening, and the overall wheelbase has increased by a little more than an inch (now about 111 inches). However, the overall length, width and height have decreased a smidge compared with the old model. The new ultra-high tensile steel body is more than 200 pounds lighter than the current Mazda6.
The new Mazda6 no longer features a V-6 engine. Instead, there are two SkyActiv four-cylinders. Exact power figures weren't available, but we'd expect about 155 horsepower from the 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine, which is used in the CX-5 and the Mazda3. A new high-compression, high-revving 2.5-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder will make about 189 hp. Like the CX-5, it sounds like the new Mazda6 won't win any speed tests compared with its competition, but it's sure to receive exemplary gas mileage ratings. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission or a SkyActiv six-speed automatic transmission, while the 2.5-liter is available only with the six-speed automatic. Since this is a European release, we may only get the 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Hydraulic power steering has been dropped for an electromechanical power-steering unit.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder will be available with a start-stop system and the carmaker's new energy regeneration system, called i-ELOOP. The regenerative braking system is the first to feature a capacitor — think of it as a short-term battery — that recoups brake energy and uses it to power electric components in the car, further improving fuel economy.
The interior already looks pretty dated to our eyes, but the Mazda6's tactile controls could prove to be an important selling point in a segment featuring more and more capacitive touch controls. Mazda says rear passenger space has increased, and comfort is enhanced with longer rear-seat cushions and a larger rear-seat armrest. Like the CX-5, the Mazda6 has a new 3.5-inch information screen in the gauge cluster and can be optioned with a 5-inch display in the center console.
There's also plenty of new safety features. The Mazda6 will now flicker the hazard lights in an event of panic braking, and there's a new rear vehicle monitoring system, a lane departure warning system and a new self-braking front-collision system.
Mazda6 sales are up a surprising 47.2%, year over year, likely because of strong dealer incentives on the now-discontinued second-generation model. The 2013 Mazda6 officially ceased production in the United States this month; the new model will be made in Japan only. It will be interesting to see if this new, less American-oriented Mazda6 will pick up even more sales than the previous model, like the CX-5 is doing compared with the previous American-minded Tribute and CX-7.
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