What is it?
The Mazda 6 has undergone the third and most far-reaching facelift since the attractive mid-size saloon went on sale six years ago.
Not that the Mazda 6 shouts particularly loudly about it. The mesh of the grille sits a touch deeper, its chrome surround now extends outwards to underline revised LED headlights and the lower front bumper has been re-profiled, but overall Mazda has resisted tampering too eagerly with the car’s gracefully ageing features. Safer to make more subtle changes such as mounting the wide-bore exhaust tips a fraction further apart for more ‘stance’.
Under the bonnet things are different, because this updated 6 marks the debut of Mazda’s direct-injection 2.5-litre SkyActiv-G engine. It’s making an appearance because the company anticipates – naturally – a slight shift in its sales composition from diesel to petrol, and wants to offer buyers greater choice.
The new engine is naturally aspirated and already serves diesel-averse Americans who own the mammoth CX-9 SUV and its smaller sibling, the CX-5. With 191bhp it’s the most powerful engine to feature in a UK-spec 6, but also features cylinder deactivation, operating just two of its four combustion chambers under light throttle loads. Combined fuel economy is duly rated at 42.2mpg on the new WLTP cycle.
This range-topping 2.5 is joined by subtly revised versions of the existing 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G engines – of 143bhp and 163bhp – and is mated solely to Mazda’s six-speed auto gearbox, which uses paddle-shifters mounted on the back of a thin-rimmed steering wheel.