Driving

Driving

The Mazda6 has always challenged premium badged rivals when it comes to dynamic appeal.

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Already regarded and praised as one of the best-handling cars in its class, the Mazda6 has always challenged premium badged rivals when it comes to dynamic appeal. Something that hasn’t been lost with the new Mazda6, which benefits from a host of chassis updates to carefully refine its well-balanced ride and handling set up.

The front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension systems have been significantly improved to enhance chassis performance. As a result, the new Mazda6 demonstrates smoother, more linear vehicle behavior and enhanced ride quality in both urban and open road environments.

The front steering knuckles were lowered for more neutral steering characteristics, while the mount of the lower arm was raised. The front and rear anti-roll bars are bonded to the mount bushings and the way load is applied to the front springs has been optimised, giving the suspension a smoother stroke. The bump stop characteristics have been revised to extend the suspension’s linear stroke range, achieving smoother more stable roll characteristics. Rebound springs were also added to the front dampers.

Measures to improve ride comfort include an increase in the diameter of the front damper cylinders from 32 mm to 35 mm, and a change in the valve structure of the front and rear dampers. To lower the spring rate characteristics and absorb even minor vibrations in the rear suspension, the new Mazda6 is the first Mazda vehicle to use urethane for the rear damper top mount. This new layout demonstrates linear damping force in response to even small degrees of input, while also firmly suppressing skipping under high input to realise a higher level of ride comfort.

Rigid mounts now attach the steering gear to the suspension cross-member, delivering more precise response to subtle steering wheel action when cornering or driving at high speeds. The increase in system rigidity combines with the enhanced suspension system to offer a more neutral, linear steering feel.

As you’d expect the focus of the new Mazda6’s development was also on improvements to refinement and increased noise suppression. Thicker floor panels and rear wheel housing inner walls greatly reduce the amount of tyre noise that penetrates the cabin. Gaps between body panels and interior materials, as well as the number of holes in them have been reduced. Additional vibration-absorbing materials have been added to the transmission tunnel, while the internal structure of the ceiling -the largest surface area in the cabin- has been changed, to significantly improve its noise absorbing and damping characteristics, including the deadening of sound generated when a door is shut.

In line with the lightweight but strong ethos of Mazda’s SKYACTIV chassis technology, the rigidity of the model’s already stiff body structure has been improved at the same time as minimising weight increases through the careful design of structures and selection of materials.

The cowl cross-member has been thickened and the number of joints for each suspension top increased from one to two. This increases rigidity and strength between the front suspension tops. The cowl adopts an S-shaped cross-section structure that increases body rigidity and pedestrian protection performance, while also reducing weight. The tunnel members were made larger and the number of joints securing each increased from three to four. This combines with the increased thickness of the left and right floor panels to significantly enhance rigidity. To the rear, the thickness of the inner walls of the wheel housings has been increased. This combines with closed cross-section structure braces to realise an even stronger joining structure. In addition, the reinforcements for the rear suspension trailing link mounts have been thickened for greater strength.

All of the above hidden improvements may be unseen but across the board the already accomplished ride comfort and cabin quietness of the Mazda6 has been enhanced. Other examples of the far-reaching scope of the new Mazda6’s under the skin upgrades include the adoption of smoother and flatter shapes for the engine and transmission tunnel undercovers to streamline airflow under the car to improve aerodynamics and efficiency. Other aero enhancements include low level ducts that create a flow of air to the front tyres, which enhances high speed stability.

In conjunction with the increased horsepower and torque output of the SKYACTIV-D 2.2 engine, diesel-powered versions of the updated Mazda6 are fitted with larger, 320 mm diameter front brakes.