Mazda has taken the wraps off the 2018 Mazda 6 at the 2017 Los Angeles motor show, debuting revised styling and the addition of a turbocharged petrol engine.
The push toward a more premium design has been driven by customer demand, with the brand confirming around 61 per cent of Mazda CX-9 vehicles sold in Australia are top-specification GT or Azami models.
As a result, the latest Mazda 6 is pushing the premium barrier with more luxury elements, chassis changes and the turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine from the CX-9.
Inside the cabin, Mazda has employed Nappa leather on the redesigned front seats and more sound insulation, along with the use of a Sen wood trim, often found in Japanese instruments and furniture.
Technology has also received a boost with a 360-degree camera, a 7.0-inch TFT gauge for Atenza models and an 8.0-inch MZD Connect system, along with stop/go adaptive cruise control and AEB across the entire range, including lane-keeping assistant.
The biggest change comes in the form of a new engine for the Mazda 6 range: the Skyactiv-G 2.5 engine from the CX-9.
Producing 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque, the directly injected engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, sending torque through the front wheels.
An industry-first Dynamic Pressure Turbo builds boost quickly using a small inlet port, which works with a secondary valve that opens at higher RPM for increased airflow. Additionally a pulse-scavenging 4-3-1 manifold prevents back pressure and helps the engine breathe freely.
Chassis changes to the Mazda 6 are designed to improve ride comfort and NVH — an element that has always marred the Mazda 6 on coarse chip roads. The steering rack is now rigidly mounted to the chassis, which is said to improve response and feel.
Revisions to the suspension offer a smoother ride, while the Skyactiv chassis has been stiffened to better use the suspension revisions and improve dynamic performance.
Suspension changes come in the form of geometry adjustments and roll-steer changes to promote neutral handling.
Mazda's 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine will remain in use and will be available from the Touring grade upwards.
The lack of a sporty petrol engine has always been one of the current generation Mazda 6's downfalls. With this change, Mazda is expecting a positive response from Australian buyers.
"Being the most comprehensive update to the model since 2012, we are incredibly excited to bring the car to market during the second half of 2018," said Mazda Australia senior manager public relation Sonia Singh.
It's not all good news yet, though. Fans of the shrinking wagon market, take note: the turbo petrol engine is currently only confirmed for the sedan, with availability in the cargo hauler still to be decided. So, if you want a turbo petrol Mazda 6 wagon, you'd best get in the ear of your local dealer. Market feedback goes a long way.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we expect the engine and added features to drive the price of the Mazda 6 sedan up slightly.