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Mazda 6 SkyActiv D 2.2: Soul and heart of a champion

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer July 03,2019

The world craves for Sports Utility Vehicles, particularly crossovers, which makes us wonder if there is still any demand left for traditional 3-box executive sedans.

The raised ride height gives better view ahead, allows you more versatility during bad road and weather conditions, and overall, gives you more confidence behind the wheel. Demand is driven in ASEAN and China, where the market is booming despite lacking first-world infrastructure. This is also the case in Europe and the US.

But if you’re a keen driver, you know the raised ride height and higher center of gravity, coupled with a heavier body and fat gummy tires dull the driving experience. A sportscar is the anti-thesis of the cross-over SUV, but we all have to act as responsible adults.

Fortunately, one executive sedan embodies the values of driving pleasure with a good balance of versatility in day-to-day driving needs. Enter, the Mazda 6 sedan, made better with Mazda’s SkyActiv D 2.2 CRDi turbocharged diesel engine.

Let’s get on with the not-so-good first: for an executive sedan, the back seats are on the svelte side. Rivals from Toyota, Honda and Nissan offer more space. But to be honest, if you’re looking at the 6, you enjoy driving, taking pleasure in all the nuances of the experience. So back seat space, though important, isn’t that much of a deal-breaker because you’re always behind the wheel rather than the back-seat.

Next are the massive 19’ wheels and tires. They look good, but they do give a slightly knobbly ride, and can be jarring when you go through a nasty bump on the road. But fashion first, as they say.

And indeed, no other executive sedan looks like the Mazda 6. From afar, the streamlined, organic yet futuristic silhouette is unmistakable, looking perfectly proportioned, almost symmetrical front to back.

And beauty they say lies in symmetry.

Drop yourself into the body hugging nappa brown leather seats, and you find a very anatomically correct and ergonomic driving position: your legs splay out naturally, your knees aren’t kinked, the steering column aligns with your shoulders and your hands land on the steering wheel perfectly. It feels very intimate inside without being too constricting and invasive even for fat big boys like me. You have no choice but to get into the driving mood most, if not all the time.

The Mazda 6 has soul. And the noble soul is paired with the heart of a champion.

The 2.2 liter SkyActiv D engine is smooth, refined, yet powerful and responsive. It delivers its 190hp at a heady 4,500rpm but more importantly, delivers peak torque of 450 Newton-Meters from a lowish 2,000rpm and carries it almost all the way to redline. For a turbocharged diesel, it feels very linear and progressive rather than delivering a big thump of power early on, and falling flat at the top-end. The power delivery enhances the almost surreal driving experience for a car in this segment.

It shines best on winding roads. Find your rhythm, flow from corner to corner, carry as much speed as you can, feel the car as it moves. You’ll eventually find yourself driving faster, and faster and faster, like a seasoned boxer or an expert dancer. The steering is light, but communicates feel through your fingertips well. The brakes are powerful, but more importantly, deliver a very well-modulated and progressive feel. You feel confident to brake on the limit and stop on time, all the time. Jinba Ittai (horse and rider becoming one) in perfection.

On the highway, it’s best to be mindful of your speed as you will easily find yourself above the speed limit: such is it’s smoothness and refinement. In traffic, you get to sample more of the 6’s charms such as the dark brown leather interior, the 11-speaker Bose surround sound system, the around-view monitor cameras for convenience in tight spots, and the Mazda Connect multimedia system with its 8-inch touch screen LCD display that now features Apple Carplay.

On the safety side, the 6 comes with 6 airbags, traction / stability control, ABS-EBD brakes, standard features you’d expect in a car of the caliber. You feel safe and secure, as well as confident of the Mazda’s driving abilities.

Many other cars on the road will provide you with more: more space, more refinement, more versatility & more use on bad roads and weather conditions. But few else, especially at this price range will deliver as much driving involvement, feedback and ultimately, pleasure, coupled with the space and refinement as the Mazda 6 sedan. And with the diesel option, amazing efficiency, too. How does 8.7km/liter in the city, and 16.5km/liter in the highway sound to you?

The Mazda 6 sedan is the anti-thesis of bold, bland, path-of-least resistance motoring. It’s a finely tuned piece of priceless instrument that has soul, and connects with yours. When was the last time your body tingled with excitement each time you drove a car? The Mazda 6 has that effect on you.

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