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Mazda6 Skyactiv-D Limited 2015 new car review

By Robert Barry (Auto Media Group) | Reviewed March 2015

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  • 2015 Mazda6 Skyactiv D Parking Brake
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Disclaimer: Writer is predisposed to cars painted in metallic silver, as well driving diesel engines, and is particularly fond of station wagons or SUVs.

The goods

  • Frugal
  • Functional
  • Quiet
  • Well finished

The not-so-goods

  • Stop/start is occasionally slow to kick in

Despite their best efforts, there is always a distinctive clatter to a diesel engine when starting up and idling and the new Mazda6 Skyactiv-D is no exception, but it is still one of the most refined units you’ll come across in the mid-size mass market.

It’s sometimes a little bit hard to be objective about a vehicle, when it arrives in a shade that you like, with a engine type that you like, and in a format you that like, and the new Mazda6 Skyactiv D Limited is almost damned close to being the perfect car for me, but for one minor foible.

There were just a couple of instances where the i-stop stop/start system just didn’t kick in fast enough for my liking, the pause between lifting your foot off the brake pedal to the accelerator while the engine restarts itself occasionally feels a smidgen longer than it should be. And there were a number of times, annoyingly, that I got soundly beaten by other motorists in the who-can-accelerate away-from-the-intersection-first competition.

That foible aside, the rest of the 2015 Mazda6 Limited Skyactiv- D is practically faultless. The suspension package on the 2014 car was pretty good but Mazda decided that it required some more re-working and refining, and it also decided that the noise vibration and harshness at high speed needed to be reduced by 2.4 decibels at high speed. And they succeeded, it is most certainly whisper quiet at motorway speed, only ruined by tyre noise on hot-mix chip surfaces that permeate much of the state highway network.

Even the front seats got an upgrade to reduce vibration and increase comfort, there’s a Pullmaflex suspension mat in the seat backs and a high-vibration absorbing urethane for the seat cushion.

While the average punter wouldn’t really notice the difference, I suspect that driving the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ Limited Skyactiv-D models back to back would be very telling. It certainly feels quieter and more refined, but no less engaging to drive, this is a Mazda after all, which retains the Jinba-Ittai philosophy of being one between horse and rider.

As part of the update for 2015, to bring the Mazda6 in line with its smaller sibling, the Mazda3, the Japanese manufacturer has 2015 Mazda 6 Skyactiv D interioradded its full suite of i-Activsense active and passive safety technologies, as well as giving the car a subtle cosmetic nip and tuck to the front grille and bumper assembly.

The new adaptive LED headlamps are quite impressive and really do give you a greater spread of light at night, particularly when in highway mode (above 95 km/h) where the illumination is extended. The dipped beam around town is also particularly good.

Mazda has added lane keep assist which gives you an audible warning and will also provide steering intervention if required when you deviate from your marked lane unintentionally.

All of the models have an electric parking brake and the Mazda MZD Connect system with a 7 inch mounted colour touchscreen and commander dial which is housed close to the parking brake and is easily and intuitively used.

Inside the cabin theres a completely new dashboard layout and revised front and rear console design where Mazda has integrated some very nice chocolate brown leather trim amongst the sea of grey upholstery to give the cabin a more upmarket look and feel.

Don’t let those elegant lines fool you into believing that this car isn’t suitable for load carrying, quite the contrary. By lowering the karakuri rear seats and removing the integrated luggage cover, which normally keeps all your worldly goods safely out of sight, I managed to fit five 1800mm trestle tables, three gas bottles and three fold-up portable BBQ units in the back of the Limited wagon.

I did need to move the front seats forward a smidgen and the bloke at the party hire shop watched on with some amusement as I carefully draped packing blankets around the gear so as not to damage the interior, but it all fitted in quite easily.

The rear privacy glass which wraps around from rear passenger door to the other rear passenger door also deserves a hymn of praise for its ability to hide your gear from opportunistic thieves.

The other features that also deserve an honourable mention for making life with the Mazda6 Skyactiv-D even more pleasurable are the active cruise control, the blind spot assist, and the rear cross traffic alert and reversing camera.

Setting the active cruise will allow the car to comfortably eat up long distances without the driver ever having to worry about slowing down for other vehicles, as the car will do so automatically, and if you go to change lanes on the motorway and there’s a car in your blind spot the system will give a pleasant but clear audible warning. The rear cross traffic system does the same if a car or pedestrian should cross your path when reversing.

Thankfully I didn’t get to test out the front and rear smart city brake support which detects front or rear obstructions and automatically applies the brakes and restricts engine torque to lessen the impact of front or rear collisions.

But the real jewel in the crown for the Mazda6 Limited wagon is the Skyactiv-D engine combined with the 6-speed Skyactiv drive transmission. It’s a combination which not only provided us with an average fuel consumption of 7l/100km for our test week, it was also a pleasure to drive with plenty of oomph on tap when needed, seamless gear changes, and whisper quiet motorway cruising.

The refresh of the Mazda6 Skyactiv-D has made a great car even better, the Limited specification offers as much specification and luxury that you would find on more expensive European offerings, and better yet it comes with 3 years of Mazdacare which includes servicing at no extra cost.

Price: $58,245 plus on road charges

Note: This was reviewed as a new vehicle.

Robert Barry (Auto Media Group)

Robert Barry (Auto Media Group)Expert reviewer

I've been reviewing cars, vans, utes, trucks, and almost any other contraption with wheels and an engine since 2003. My dream car is a classic W123 series Mercedes-Benz 280CE.

(Opinions are my own and not those of Trade Me.)

Currently on Trade Me

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