Teased two weeks ago, the 2018 Mazda 6 has made its debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. This second facelift for the D-segment sedan boasts “unparalleled craftsmanship, design and technologies” that elevate it from its traditional competitive set into a higher class, says Mazda, which also claims that the new sedan offers a “refined experience befitting of a far more expensive car.” Not a company that’s shy with words, that’s for sure.

Mazda is proud of the fact that in the US, around 55% of all Mazda CX-9 SUVs sold have been either high-level Grand Touring models or top-trim Signature models, with the latter selling more than twice as well as expected. This has led the Hiroshima-based carmaker to follow the same path for its flagship sedan.

Up front sits a revised fascia seemingly inspired by the new CX-5, with a new grille surround that flows under – rather than above – the headlights. Speaking of which, the light graphics have also been redesigned with new LED daytime running lights, while the bumper incorporates the slim “whiskers” from the CX-5. On top of that are a new 19-inch wheel design and the new Soul Red Crystal paint.

Inside, the big Mazda gains a comprehensive interior update, including an all-new horizontally stretched dashboard – the second it has received since 2012. Only the steering wheel and small trim pieces have been carried over from its predecessor.

The minimalist cabin features new climate controls and Japanese Sen wood trim that sits on the same line as the slimmer air vents. The cabin also features brown Nappa leather (colour inspired by aged wood in ancient Japanese temples) and UltraSuede NU adorned with a subtle gold tint. The latter uses a similar technique to that which is used to make ornate kimonos, Mazda claims.

The 6’s front seats have been redesigned. They are now wider, with high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam that creates a firm, supportive seating surface. The chairs are designed to help keep front passengers’ spines in the natural S-shape humans use when standing, Mazda says. Available ventilated seats are a first for the brand.

New tech include a 360-degree view monitor, a reconfigurable seven-inch TFT gauge display in higher-trim models, a new eight-inch infotainment display with sharper contrast, available full-speed Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go, windshield wiper de-icer and a windshield-projected Active Driving Display head-up display.

New for model year 2018 is a chassis that has been thoroughly revised to provide a more supple ride, greater agility and dramatically improved NVH, Mazda claims.

Under the hood is the 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated SkyActiv-G engine, now with cylinder deactivation. The outside two cylinders can shut down when the vehicle is operated at steady speeds between 40 and 80 km/h, but all four cylinders work together when full power is needed. A centrifugal pendulum has been adopted in the torque converter of the six-speed automatic to counterbalance any vibration that might otherwise be felt when running on two cylinders.

Those who want more can go opt for the SkyActiv-G 2.5T turbo unit from the CX-9, making 250 hp and 420 Nm from 2,000 rpm here. That’s torque on par with a 4.0 liter V8, says its maker. “As a champion of the manual transmission,” Mazda will continue to offer the six-speed manual gearbox, but only with the NA engine – sorry, there’s no MT turbo.

All the above enhancements combine for a “Mazda Premium” experience that the brand hopes can push it beyond mainstream vehicles, which we take to mean the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, both recently refreshed in the US market by the way. The 2018 Mazda 6 will go on sale next spring.

GALLERY: 2018 Mazda 6, US market


GALLERY: 2017 Mazda 6 GVC in Malaysia