2014 Mazda6 revealed in Moscow

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Mazda has always done things a little different, and choosing to reveal the 2014 remake of its flagship Mazda6 sedan in Moscow rather than Paris, which is just around the corner, at least allows it to break cover and make press headlines before the myriad of new cars and concepts flood the French auto show.

The Moscow tie-in goes deeper than merely edging out the Paris show, however, as the Japanese automaker enjoys extremely strong sales throughout Russia, enough so that it has a joint venture there to produce the new Mazda6. In contrast, Mazda is shuttering its U.S. assembly plant, making it necessary for its U.S. sales division to import all future Mazda6 models from its Hiroshima, Japan facility.

A critically important launch for Mazda, its 6 fights it out in the most competitive segment within the world's largest car market, which for the time being remains the U.S., while also playing an important role for Mazda in Canada and other markets where the brand's smaller cars are more dominant. The Mazda6 currently sold in North America is larger than the version sold in other markets, except in the Middle East where the same longer wheelbase model is added to the lineup for those who want more rear legroom with the "Ultra" moniker. The new 2014 Mazda6, in contrast, will be 56 mm shorter from end to end than the current global model, but thanks to extending the front wheels forward relative to the A-pillar its wheelbase grows 40 mm longer to 2,830 mm, allowing a roomier cabin. Even the trunk is more accessible thanks to a 32-mm wider upper opening. With this being a European launch, Mazda has yet to say whether North American markets will get this version of the new 6 or if an extended wheelbase sedan will once again be offered.

While Mazda's many performance fans on this side of the Atlantic will be keeping their fingers crossed the new smaller 6 makes the cut, they'll likely be even more enthused to know that the use of high-strength steel allows the new car to weigh between 100 to 170 kilograms lighter (depending on trim) than a 4-cylinder second-generation Mazda6, at only slightly more than 1,400 kilos. While that's a fair bit heftier than an MX-5 Miata, it's only slightly heavier than Porsche's spritely Boxster.

According to the automaker's press release, the new Mazda6 is also 30-percent more rigid for improved handling and much lower noise, vibration and harshness levels, thanks also to a very low claimed coefficient of drag equaling 0.26. We can also expect the usual Mazda performance attributes thanks to a traditional front strut and rear multilink suspension setup, plus suspension tuning that optimizes handling while delivering a comfortable ride.

Like usual, global markets will get a wider choice of engines, with four 4-cylinder powerplants being introduced in Russia. Here in North America we can expect the largest and most powerful of the bunch in base trim, Mazda's 2.5-litre four, which produces a balanced 189 horsepower and 189 lb-ft of torque in European tune, while including the brand's fuel-saving and eco-friendly SkyActiv technologies. The engine will be mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, with the option of a 6-speed automatic. As for a range-topping V6 or, like some rivals have offered recently, a high-powered turbocharged variant, mums the word from Mazda. The old Ford-derived 3.7-litre V6 won't be available to the Japanese brand any longer, so we'll have to wait and see what Mazda comes up with.  

Fuel economy seems to matter more to midsize sedan buyers these days than performance, however, so as part of Mazda's SkyActiv technologies the new Mazda6 incorporates a new "i-Eloop" regenerative braking system for replenishing its capacitor. Combined with its "i-stop" idle-stop system, which shuts down the engine when it would otherwise be idling and immediately restarts it upon takeoff, the new Mazda6 should deliver competitive fuel-efficiency.

Visually, the new Mazda6 should arrive here looking near identically to how it looks in other markets. The new 5-point grille is wider and arguably more attractive than the outgoing model's design, with a nice brightwork trim piece that extends all the way along its lower half, following the outer rim upwards before melding into LED strips within the headlight clusters. It's a clever styling treatment first shown on the new Mazda CX-5 compact crossover, albeit more elegantly displayed on the wider, lower Mazda6. A similar bright chrome trim piece spans the edge of the rear decklid between a set of elegantly penned tail lamps. The two ends are visually pulled together by artistically sculpted body panels featuring ample enough curves to give it a sense of movement even when standing still.

"We have created a design in which the wild and dynamic expressions of motion artistically realize a powerful presence," said chief designer Akira Tamatani.

The 2014 Mazda6's interior won't disappoint fans of the brand either, where styling is clean and uncluttered, with a graceful arching line across the dash that dips down into the door panels to evoke fluid movement. Elegant colour-matched accent trim spans the entire width of the dash, only divided by the primary gauges. At centre stage up high on the dash, a large colour display is surrounded by associated knobs and buttons for the infotainment system, while below there are three simple rotary dials for adjusting heating, ventilation and A/C settings. Splitting the front seats just aft of the shift lever, Mazda has incorporated an infotainment controller atop the centre console similar to BMW's rotary iDrive dial (and many others). Lastly, Mazda has used "soft materials" for frequently touched surfaces "such as the door trim and the upper part of the instrument panel."

"In developing the 3rd generation Mazda6, we pursued Mazda's intrinsic value, 'driving pleasure'. We wanted to create a car that reacts and behaves exactly as you expect it to. Part of this involved carefully crafting those parts of the car which you often touch to feel as though they are an extension of your own body," said Hiroshi Kajiyama, the new Mazda6 program manager. "The distinctive design hints at the power and agility with which the car moves. A variety of original innovations support a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience. Mazda's superb engineering and craftsmanship have realized a car that handles so well it seems to respond directly to the driver's intentions rather than the physical manipulations of steering, braking and accelerating. In short, the new Mazda6 offers the "joy of driving" that people have come to expect from Mazda, but the experience starts even before you get behind the wheel and lingers long after the drive is over. I can't wait to see the look on the faces of people getting out of the car after their first time behind the wheel of the new Mazda6."

For those in Japan, deliveries are already underway, so Kajiyama-san won't have to wait long to see the faces of those who first drive it, while he'll need to wait until early next year for the first chance to see North American customers get out of the new 2014 Mazda6.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Mazda, 2014, Mazda6, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Midsize,

Organizations: Mazda

Geographic location: Moscow

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