September 27th saw the World Premier launch of the new Mazda 6 Tourer at the Paris Motor Show, following the World launch of the saloon in Moscow the month previous. So having owned a Mazda 6 for some years now, I was naturally keen to get first-hand experience of the new car.
Thanks to a little help from my friends at T W Whites, off I went to Paris to bring back my impressions of the show and the new Mazda 6 in particular.
I haven’t described all the other Mazda models on display, as apart from the Mazda CX-5 there was nothing you couldn’t see in the showrooms now.
If you haven’t been to the Paris Motor Show before, let me tell you that it is absolutely enormous.
I went on a Sunday, which is probably not an ideal day as it was absolutely heaving with motoring enthusiasts. You could be forgiven for wondering where the European economic recession had gone.
The exhibition is vast and spread over 8 pavilions. The Mazda stand was in Pavilion 1 and shared the honours with the big boys like Ford, Citroen, Peugeot, BMW, Rolls Royce, Renault, Mercedes, Volvo, Fiat. Separate pavilions held other brands such as Audi, VW, Porsche Lexus, Skoda etc etc
The whole Mazda range was a stunning display in white. In fact a common colour theme across many manufacturers this year was for white or red cars.
The new Mazda 6 in the magnificent Soul Red was set on a raised stage in two versions, the saloon and the Tourer (known as Wagon in France). As usual, Mazda have given their design a fancy Japanese name. This time it is ‘Kodo’, which is meant to imply ‘Soul of Motion’. No I’m not sure what it means either.
The 5 door hatchback has been dropped from the range but quite honestly the style of the Tourer fills this gap nicely.
With the help of Aurelien Deshayes of Mazda France, I had a privileged tour of the new car.
So here are my first impressions of the car from the point of view of an ordinary motorist and not as a motoring journalist or Mazda marketing.
Firstly the car looks magnificent and will be a real head turner. Both the saloon and the Tourer look muscular but also sleek, with the bulging front wheel arches and sleek sweptback lines that flow through the car. To me they stood out from the crowd of all the other family cars competing in this market segment.
The new Soul Red paint has four coats which gives it the stunning deep red. Also on display was the new 6 in pale blue metallic but it didn’t look nearly as impressive as the red.
The cars shown had either black leather seat faces or pale cream leather. The cream leather seats and door panel detailing made the car stand out and gave it the premium quality impression. Both interior colours on the Soul Red are available in France and I’m glad to hear Mazda UK allow the UK to have the same choice in both body styles.
Although both models were excellent, for me the Tourer was the better looking. They both come in the new light weight and efficient Skyactive 2.0 litre petrol and 2.2 litre diesel engines with 6-speed manual transmission and 6-speed automatics.
The automatic transmission is available with the diesel and petrol engines on the Saloon, however only available with diesel on the Tourer.
The front grill now has more of a powerful smile than the grin of the previous model.
Many of the really exciting features of the new car are hidden under the skin as it is bristling with electronics. Depending on the model, it now has adaptive bi-xenon head lights with LED day running lights.
Behind the front grill badge and the windscreen and at the rear is radar, plus a rear view camera for the i-Sense technology. This gives rear view monitoring, lane departure warning, and radar cruise control.
It also has the option of ‘smart city brake support’. In slow moving traffic, this system uses lasers to detect a vehicle or obstacle in front and automatically applies the brakes if it thinks the driver isn’t going to stop. For cars with automatic transmission, if the system detects an obstacle in front and the vehicle is accelerating, then an alarm sound goes off and the acceleration is stopped. That should stop those rear-end shunts when pulling out of junctions of entering roundabouts etc.
The i-ELOOP system is a regenerative electric power system designed to save significant amounts of fuel.
In addition to the battery, the car also has a high capacity Capacitor. During deceleration, kinetic energy is recovered and stored in the Capacitor. This can store enough energy to power the cars electric systems. With frequent acceleration and deceleration there is no need for the alternator to generate electricity, thus saving fuel.
There isn’t enough space here to discuss all the car’s features but hopefully this quick tour of this new car is sufficient to whet your appetite. Mine certainly is and I can’t wait to drive it.
Having sated myself on the Mazda stand, I then went off to explore the rest of the show.
It is so vast that I ran out of time. Many of the honeypot brands such as Ferrari, Porsche, Audi etc, attracted so many people that it was impossible to get near them and brought the place to a stop.
Apart from just about all vehicle brands of car available in Europe, there was much more to see.
There was rather surprisingly a large part of one pavilion dedicated to sales of used cars. The same pavilion had large number of stalls (boutiques) selling model cars, books, insurance etc. Historic trucks were on display and the Department of the Interior had a significant presence displaying the Police/ Gendarme vehicles and systems. I was given a nice key ring of a French policeman for having my photo taken behind a cut-out effigy of a Traffic cop. I’m too embarrassed to put in this blog.
Sadly I didn’t have time to get to pavilion 2.1 which had the electric vehicle test track and an electric go-car track. In my experience the French have embraced electric vehicles far more enthusiastically than the UK. Perhaps it is because most of their national electric generation plants are non-polluting nuclear.
At about £28,000 for the top spec Tourer automatic, this takes Mazda into the German brands territory. I know that once you load all the options you can’t really compare but perhaps buys will trade brand image for gizmos. For a similar price I can buy a Mercedes C Class Estate (manual), a BMW 320 Touring or an Audi A4 Avant.
So Mazda will have to give the buyer the same option flexibility or be realistic in its actual selling prices.
But well done Mazda producing the new Mazda 6. Would I buy one? I don’t know. It all depends on Mazda UK product and pricing strategy …… but I’m not holding my breath.
Was I pleased to have gone? – Definitely! But next time I would avoid a weekend.
If you would like to look at more pictures please see the gallery below: