Good things regularly come in threes. With the new Mazda 6 a special trio of qualities --dynamic design, high performance engines and agile handling -- set the car apart from the rest of the mid-size car sector.
Equally Mazda's three traditional core values, embracing quality, safety and reliability are embodied in the new model, with the trilogy theme extending to three body styles, a classic saloon, a sporty hatchback-fastback and from this autumn the spacious Sport Wagon/estate car.
The Mazda6's significance for the company in creating a new, pivotal range, extends to the brand's entry into a new era.
Mark Fields, President of Mazda Motor Corporation, declares: "The Mazda6 is the first link in a whole chain of newcomers representing a return to our roots. Dynamic sports cars such as the RX-7 and MX-5 have moulded our image. We will continue this tradition with the Mazda6 and numerous other newcomers in coming years."
Stylish Mazda6 leads from the front
The front end styling of the Mazda6 range -- saloon, hatchback and estate -- makes a bold brand statement. It is characterised by the five-point grille, distinctive air inlet apertures in the aerodynamic front spoiler, and slim, clear glass headlights.
The Mazda6's instantly recognisable profile has a sporting, active look, emphasised by a steeply raked windscreen and flared wheel arches. The integrity of design themes continues with a rear view dominated by clear glass tail lights, which complement and match their front headlight counterparts.
They wrap seamlessly round the rear side panels to create a flowing line of sight from nose to tail. This generates a dynamic, active, external impression and stance, from all angles, declaring Mazda's new style and presence in the midsize model marketplace.
This redefinition of Mazda's design virtues is sustained in the Mazda6's interior. Much more spacious than the car's compact sporting exterior implies, the cabin incorporates tasteful, understated, high-quality materials.
Complementary form and function come together with the functional, tactile sports steering wheel, chrome-rimmed, ergonomically efficient instrumentation, and the brushed aluminium centre console.
The Mazda6 development engineers have paid careful attention to passenger comfort: The seats are of a sophisticated ergonomic design with pleasantly firm upholstery, providing both lateral support when cornering and comfort on long journeys. There is plenty of storage space for small personal items in the dashboard, the centre console and the doors, and a unique innovation provides plenty of storage space in the boot even for bulky luggage.
Mazda6: The Karakuri technique
Inspired by the Japanese Karakuri folding dolls, the Mazda design engineers have developed a pioneering system for expanding the already roomy boot as required. By simply operating a lever in the side of the boot, the rear seats can be converted into a flat loading floor. The seats drop down, the arm rests fold over them, and the head rests do not have to be removed - a fine example of Japanese culture translated into everyday convenience.
The impressive boot capacity is the result of the "E-type" multilink rear axle patented by Mazda, ensuring excellent road holding thanks to its compact, space-saving construction combined with the double wishbone front axle. The wide track width and low centre of gravity guarantee responsive driving dynamics, and the precise steering conveys a reassuringly direct contact with the road surface both on the motorway and winding country roads. The positive handling of this front-wheel drive car is complemented by an excellent braking system, an active safety asset, that puts the Mazda6 amongst the best in its class.
Mazda6: A choice of three petrol engines
The comprehensive range of engines on offer matches the varying demands of customers in this class. The Mazda6 will be launched with three state-of-the-art light-alloy four-cylinder petrol engines ranging from the economical 1.8-litre unit to the powerful 2.3-litre counterpart with sequential valve timing. All engines have four valves per cylinder, and twin overhead camshafts, delivering either 88 kW/120 hp (1.8 litre), 104 kW/141 hp (2.0 litre) or 122 kW/166 hp (2.3 litre). All the power plants can be matched to the three body versions, maintaining the car's trilogy theme.
There is a choice of three gearboxes. In addition to the standard five-speed manual gearbox and optional automatic four-speed transmission, a sequential "Activematic" gearbox - involving a five-speed automatic with manual override -- will be available for the four-wheel drive version coming to the market from the fourth quarter of 2002 .
The Mazda6 will also benefit from a modern 2.0 litre diesel engines from that date. A 2.0 litre unit featuring second generation common rail injection and rated at either 88 kW/120 hp or 100 kW/136 hp will complete the powertrain choice.
Mazda6: Safety and quality is standard
Mazda's design engineers have not compromised in the area of safety:
An extremely rigid passenger cage and an ingenious structure for distributing and absorbing impact energy contribute to high levels of passive safety, as do the front airbags, side airbags for front occupants, and the "head and shoulder" airbags to provide side protection for both front and rear seat passengers in the event of impact.
The quality of workmanship in the Mazda6 marks a continuing enhancement in the traditionally acclaimed level of Mazda quality. Refined production technology is manifested in minimal gaps between bodywork panels, creating an overall impression of integrated quality, fit and finish that extends to the interior. In essence, sports styling, a well equipped quality interior, a comprehensive safety package, a wide choice of modern engines, a safe, agile chassis and high standards of workmanship are the hallmarks of the new Mazda6. Mazda President Mark Fields adds another crucial dimension: "The Mazda6 is not just a successful new contribution to the midsize vehicle class. It is also an expression of Mazda's new product philosophy."
The European rollout of the Mazda6 saloon and hatchback is planned during this summer, with diesel, estate and four-wheel drive versions arriving in the autumn.