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by Daniel DeGasperi

Larger, tech-packed and ultra-fuel efficient, the all-new third-generation Mazda6 is also more expensive, topping $50,000 for the first time since the 6 MPS departed.

In its latest incarnation, the Mazda6 presents with two very different variants – the long-wheelbase sedan, designed to chase Camry and Accord buyers, and the short-wheelbase wagon, a more compact Euro-midsized contender.

Gone is the hatchback derivative and manual transmission availability, the sole gearbox now being a six-speed auto. Two engines hook-up to the same auto, an all-new 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G direct injected four-cylinder producing 138kW and 250Nm, and the 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D turbo-diesel as seen in the CX-5, developing 129kW and 420Nm.

Four spec grades are available in Australia, all of which are available as a sedan, or for a $1300 premium, the wagon. The petrol-only Sport costs $33,460 and scores 17inch alloy wheels, fog lights, push-button start, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, auto on/off headlights, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sat-nav, and a reverse camera.

The mid-range Touring adds $4040 to that price, starting at $37,500 sedan/$38,800 wagon, but it also adds leather trim, 8-way driver/4-way passenger electric-adjust front seats, 231-watt 11-speaker Bose audio and front/rear parking sensors. The Touring is the first grade in which the diesel engine is available, at a $2850 premium over either sedan or wagon.

Third-tier GT pushes pricing up by a further $5720, at $43,220 sedan petrol/$44,520 wagon petrol, and $46,070 sedan diesel/$47,370 wagon diesel . The equipment list extends to 19-inch alloys, sunroof, LED daytime lights, bi-xenon headlights, auto-dim rear view mirror and heated seats.

The flagship Atenza is essentially a GT with Mazda’s latest active safety hardware, adding another $3590 to the list price, at $46,810 sedan/$48,110 wagon, and $49,660 sedan diesel/$50,960 wagon diesel. With radar cruise control, blind-spot monitor, forward obstruction warning, auto high beam, lane departure warning, rear-cross traffic alert, and auto brake assist, it showcases as the most technologically advanced Mazda ever. But it also makes it the first Mazda6 to push beyond $50K.

Class-benchmark claimed economy of 6.6L/100km for the petrol, and 5.4L/100km for the diesel, are thanks partly to Mazda’s SKYACTIV fuel-saving technology including stop-start and brake energy regeneration that uses a capacitor to store energy and power the electrics.

The sedan now measures at 4865mm, a full 65mm longer than the wagon, while the sedan’s 2830mm wheelbase stretches a full 80mm further than the wagon, which gets shorter doors and less legroom. However the big-backed variant counters with its 1480mm height, towering 30mm abover the sedan.

Considering the size increases, weight gains are minimal. The entry Mazda6 Sport sedan weighs 1462kg, or 29kg more than the outgoing base model. However the top spec diesel wagon, at 1593kg, weighs 4kg less than the old diesel hatchback flagship.

With two drivetrains, in two different variants each with their own suspension tune, and the availability of 17- and 19-inch wheels, making sense of the new Mazda6 range isn’t straightforward.

But we’ve been exploring each of the all-new variants on roads around Adelaide today, so stay tuned for the full review…