The new 2007 Mazda6 Facelift was launched late last year by Cycle and Carriage Bintang Berhad at its 3S showroom at Lot 9 today, beside the Federal Highway. This facelifted Mazda6 features 785 engineering changes that accompanies the expected exterior and interior cosmetic changes, making this more than a refreshing exercise to keep the car looking up to date since its launch in 2003. In fact, some have said that despite interior similarities, the pre-facelift and post-facelift model are two completely different animals when it comes to the driving experience.

Read my test drive report after the jump.

The Mazda6 is one of the very few cars of which its chassis was designed specifically for it. In Mazdas dictionary it is called the GG/GY Chassis, but it has since been adapted by Ford as the CD3 chassis for use as the base for cars like the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ. A chassis injected with Mazdas “Zoom-Zoom” DNA from the very beginning is perhaps what made the Mazda6 what it is, and the reason it gained favor with motoring journalists worldwide, picking up 126 awards globally in 37 countries since its introduction, making it one of the most successful new-cars in Mazda’s 82-year history.

I tested both the Mazda6 2.0 and the Mazda6 2.3 Sedan. The Mazda6 2.0 is pretty well equipped, though the absence of automatic climate control makes it lose out to the other cars in its class which all have the dual zone auto feature. You get the following equipment with the Mazda 6 2.0 litre Sedan:

  • 2.0L (1,999cc) in-line 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve, EFI & S-VT variable valve timing – 149PS at 6,500rpm and 187Nm of Torque at 4,000rpm
  • 5 Speed Auto Transmission (ACTIVEMATIC) with manual shifting
  • 205/55/R16 Bridgestone Turanza Tyres
  • 5pcs 16″ Alloy Rims
  • 4W-ABS+EBD
  • Head Light Levelling Control
  • Double Exhaust Tailpipe
  • Jack Knife Key with Remote Keyless Entry
  • Immobilizer
  • Power Windows
  • Central Locking & Window Locks
  • Leather Wrap Steering Wheel c/w Audio & Auto Cruise Controller
  • Leather Wrap Gear Knob
  • Audio c/w MP3 & 6 in-dash CD Changer
  • Tilt & Telescopic Adjustable Steering Column
  • Instrument Panel Light Control
  • Dual Front Airbags
  • ISOFIX Child Seat Fittings
  • Floor Console with Double-Bottom Front-Armrest Box
  • Alarm System
  • Reverse Sensors
  • Safety Kits
  • Stainless Steel Scuff Plates
  • No Plate Base
  • Carpet Mats

As for the Mazda6 2.3 Sedan, you get a more sportier package, complete with bodykit and sunroof. Detailed specs:

  • 2.3L (2,261cc) in-line 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve, EFI & S-VT variable valve timing – 169PS at 6,500rpm and 211Nm of Torque at 4,000rpm
  • 5 Speed Auto/Manual – Transmission (ACTIVEMATIC)
  • 215/45/R17 Bridgestone Potenza RE050 Tyres
  • 5 pcs 17″ Alloy Rims
  • 4W-ABS+EBD
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) & Traction Control Systems
  • HID with Grey Bezel Headlamp
  • Head Light Levelling Control
  • Fog Lamp
  • Double Chrome Tailpipe
  • Aerostyle Bumper
  • Side Skirt & Rear Spoiler
  • Auto Climate Control
  • Jack Knife Key with Remote Keyless Entry
  • Immobilizer
  • Super Lock System
  • Central Locking & Window Locks
  • Power Windows
  • Electric Sunroof
  • Leather Wrap Steering Wheel c/w Audio & Auto Cruise Controller
  • Leather Wrap Gear Knob
  • Audio c/w MP3 & 6 in-dash CD Changer
  • Tilt & Telescopic Adjustable Steering Column
  • Multi Info Display
  • Black Out Meter Cluster
  • Instrument Panel Light Control
  • Dual Front Airbags
  • Leather Seats
  • Power Adjustable Driver Seat with 3 Memories
  • ISOFIX Child Seat Fittings
  • Floor Console with Double-Bottom Front-Armrest Box
  • Sunvisors with Lamp, Vanity Mirror & Ticket Holder (Driver & Passenger)
  • Alarm System
  • Reverse Sensors
  • Safety Kits
  • Stainless Steel Scuff Plates
  • No Plate Base
  • Carpet Mats

Both engines are based on a similar block, with identical bores but the 2.3 litre has a longer stroke to increase its displacement. You get S-VT Sequential Valve Timing to smoothen out the torque curve and help with fuel consumption, as well as VIS (Variable Intake System) to match air flow path length, hence affecting its velocity according to engine speed. The 2.3 litre engine is now EURO3 compliant.

A 5-speed auto gearbox is available on both the 2.0 and 2.3 litre models. Mazda did something different with the 5 ratios of this gearbox, instead of having 3 normal cogs and 2 overdrive cogs like its competitors in similar vehicle class; it offers a 4 normal and 1 overdrive cog setup. This provides for better acceleration – leaving one overdrive gear for highway cruising. You lose out on ridiculously low RPM during high speed cruising like the Accords 3,000-odd RPM at 150km/h, but the better take-off acceleration more than makes up for it.

Gear ratios for the 5-speed automatic gearbox for both the 2.0 and 2.3 litre cars are:

  • Gear Ratios (1st) – 3.620
  • Gear Ratios (2nd) – 1.925
  • Gear Ratios (3rd) – 1.285
  • Gear Ratios (4th) – 0.933
  • Gear Ratios (5th) – 0.692
  • Gear Ratios (Reverse) – 2.648

Like the Mazda3, the Mazda6 seating position was slightly higher than what you would expect from a car with such a sporty exterior outlook. The Mazda6 employs a more classic gauge layout rather than the three-pod layout of the Mazda3. You get a conventional meter panel with the 2.0 litre sedan, while the Mazda6 2.3 litre Sedan gets self-illuminating meters. The 2.0 litre sedans fabric seats are nice and supportive, and feature manual adjustment control, while the 2.3 litre sedan is wrapped with dark leather and the drivers seat features 8-way fully electric control with memory. The interior color scheme is very well coordinated; with the main color scheme being gray, with bits of aluminum and cubic print featuring either black wood grain or dark grey.

The 2.0 litre engine of the Mazda6 2.0 is the same one as the unit in the Mazda3 2.0, but the engine sounds so much quieter in the Mazda6. This is due to the superior soundproofing of the Mazda6. Control panels in the floor of the Mazda6 contain circular depressions that vibrate out of phase to cancel vibrations and keep the cabin quiet. Sound insulation in 18 major locations and a new engine mounting system helps to keep noise out of the passenger compartment.

The Mazda6 is a nice drive, you get a nice D-segment sedan, albeit a small-D, but this is likely the most driver-oriented D-segment car in its class. The car is not floaty at fast highway speeds, feels very well-grounded, and despite quite an amount of body roll (I dont think this suspension is tuned for all-out sportiness), you just have to trust the car not to give up and you and it doesnt disappoint. It handles much like what a well balanced FF car should, if pushed too hard it slowly begins to under steer, but lift off the accelerator pedal and the nose should correct itself provided you exercise good steering wheel control. While some have said the previous Mazda6 pre-facelift version is a lot more aggressive and raw, this one appears very well behaved to me, which might be a turn-off for some people who loved the pre-facelift, but to me lets leave the unrefined aggression to the Mazda3, the Mazda6 has to go Zoom-Zoom in a more refined and classy way.

The front suspension is a high-mounted double wishbone design while the rear is of an E-type multi-link design with low-profile springs and angled dampers that minimizes intrusion into the cars interior. The body is an evolved version of the Mazda Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System body (MAIDAS). It is a high-safety design includes front and rear crushable zones to absorb impact energy and a rigid “triple H” structure that forms a safety cage around the passenger compartment. In a front or side collision, impact energy is absorbed and channeled throughout the entire body, away from the passenger cage. At the rear, a straight, large-section rear frame soaks up energy from a collision to keep passengers protected and safe.

Brakes are grippy indeed thanks to ventilated discs at the front and discs at the rear coupled with a powerful vacuum booster and high-rigidity zero-loss brake hoses. Its a very good thing the Mazda6 comes with this set of brake equipment as with the way youll want to drive this car, youll need them. It just inspires hard driving thatll leave your tyres and brakepads stinky at the end of the drive.

Honestly, engine power is somewhat lacking, but none of the D-segment cars in this class in Malaysia can be described as powerful. The Accord 2.4 is only satisfactory, and I havent tested the Camry 2.4 yet, but with similar power to weight ratios it should be about the same. Id say a good balance of power for the Mazda6 would be the 3.0 V6 version unavailable in our markets, as the Mazda6 MPSs direct injection turbocharged 2.3 litre might just be too wild for some people. I took the 2.3 litre up Genting and the experience was far from effortless. Its expected though, with 169hp on a 1,430kg car and a normally aspirated engine torque curve. It feels like the 2.3 offers not much over the 2.0 litre.

Safety features include ABS, EBD, and twin airbags. The 2.3 litre has DSC traction control, but to be honest the car is so well sorted out that youll rarely activate it unless you have bad surfaces with less than desirable grip – for example a sandy road.

Other accessories include a sunroof for the 2.3 litre model, which includes controls for both tilt and opening size. Driving up Genting with the sunroof open proved to be a fun experience, but other than occasionally opening it when our local weather permits, most of the time youll just feel happy that your car is well equipped enough to have a sunroof yet not have much chance to use it. The ICE system interface is done up in a lovely piano black, with large and friendly buttons, and features a 6-CD in-dash changer. The sound system has really good bass, but sound starts to distort a little at higher volumes. Climate control is a single zone auto unit for the 2.3 litre, while the 2.0 litre has a single zone manual unit. The Mazda6 loses out here; its competitors have dual zone climate control. There is a fuel computer integrated into the ICE system and climate control display, you can get readings such as remaining mileage in km, average litre per 100 km fuel consumption, average speed, and current fuel consumption in real time. Neat!

Its hard to make a case for the Mazda6 if you want the large “boss car” look like what the Toyota Camry provides, and the Mazda6s interior is smaller compared to other D-segment cars, but if you want to move up from the C-segment but still want a sportier drive that focuses on driver enjoyment and not feel like youre wafting around without feeling very connected to the road, the Mazda6 is an excellent choice.

Interior feel is superior to its competitors; however it is not yet up to the level of European manufacturers, but build quality is so much better than any of its locally assembled competitors. Armrests are made of a thicker, laminated material for a softer feel, and vertical grip handles are incorporated into both front and rear armrests. Gaps between panels are flushed nicely. An example of this is the 1.5mm gap which separates the headlamp unit from the front bumper, and another similar gap where the rear bumper meets the rear fender – this level of precision according to Mazda, is normally found only in luxury cars.

The Mazda6 2.0 is priced at RM141,937 (on-the-road without insurance) while the 2.3 version is priced at RM162,318 (on-the-road without insurance). Both are fully imported CBU units from Japan.

[ GALLERY: High resolution images of the new Mazda 6 2.0 and 2.3 facelift. View the high resolution gallery to see more detail. ]

[ GALLERY: High resolution images of the new Mazda 6 2.0 and 2.3 facelift. View the high resolution gallery to see more detail. ]