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2017 LA Motor Show: 2018 Mazda 6 flagship turbo announced

By Barry Park, 16 Nov 2017 Events

Mazda turbos the 2018 Mazda 6 1_wide.j

So the forced-induction 2.5-litre four-cylinder fitted to the CX-9 will go under the flagship Mazda mid-sizer’s bonnet. But it's no MPS-badged track fighter ...

A DECADE after the Mazda 6 MPS disappeared from Australian showrooms, a car worthy of the badge is about to make a comeback. Yep, the flagship sedan in the Japanese car maker’s line-up is about to add some real excitement with a turbo engine.

Mazda has announced it will pull the wraps off what it calls a “2.5T” version of the mid-size sedan as part of a major mid-life overhaul of the range that will be unveiled at the LA Motor Show, which kicks off late this month.

It will come to Australia in the second half of next year, but instead of marking a revival of the MPS badge to take on the likes of the Volkswagen Passat 206TSI R Line, Mazda Australia believes the Mazda 6 2.5T will answer the call of customers seeking more power and torque from the brand’s range-topping passenger car. The car maker is not yet ready to talk price, but the former MPS carried a $6K premium over the highest-priced 6 at the time.

Under the facelifted 6’s bonnet is the same turbocharged 170kW/420Nm 2488cc four-cylinder engine that’s used in the seven-seat, reigning Wheels Car of the Year champion CX-9 SUV, and tuned to 91RON fuel, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and sending drive to either the front, or all wheels. That compares with 190kW and 380Nm produced by the former Mazda 6 MPS’s 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that last sold in Australia in 2007. The update will make the Mazda 6’s petrol engine as torquey as the range’s 2.2-litre twin turbo-diesel engine that only manages 129kW.

“The development team’s goal for this round of updates, the third since the model was fully redesigned in 2012, was to enhance the daily lives of people who love cars, incorporating premium details and new engineering concepts and technologies based on Mazda’s human-centered design philosophy,” Mazda said in a statement. “Producing torque on par with [a] 4.0-litre V8, this engine offers an effortless performance feel that is equal parts composure and excitement.”

No details have been released about the 2.5T’s performance figures, although the less torquey but more powerful MPS-badged 6 could dispatch the 0-100km/h sprint in around 6.6 seconds.The best the non-turbo engine in the current 6 has managed on test is 7.6 seconds. The engine isn't expected to feature under the bonnet of the Mazda CX-8, a fastback-styled, seven-seat version of the CX-5 that is currently only on sale in Japan but confirmed for an Australian arrival sometime next year with a 2.2-litre diesel engine under the bonnet.

But Mazda has also announced changes are in store for the 6’s default 138kW/250Nm powerplant. Like other Skyactiv-badged cars in the line-up, its 2.5-litre atmo engine will add cylinder deactivation to help save fuel while cruising under light load – the same technology will be added to the CX-5 mid-size SUV.

The makeover continues inside, where Mazda says it woirked hard to “raise the quality feel of both the interior and exterior, resulting in a look of greater maturity and composure”.

“A new high-grade interior features Japanese Sen Wood, often used in traditional Japanese instruments and furniture, and other exclusive trim elements for an enhanced premium feel that is authentic to the brand,” it said. “Overall the design is more distinctive, premium, beautiful and dignified, as befits the flagship of Mazda’s passenger car line-up.”

Safety also gains a tweak to make it more user-friendly in hevy traffic, with the Mazda 6’s active cruise control adding a function that allows it to come to a complete stop behind the car in front, and take off again when the car in front moves away. The higher-spec models are also expected to gain a surround-view camera system that helps a driver identify any unseen obstacles while making low-speed manouvres – meanwhile, the cheapest Mazda 2 still doesn’t get a reversing camera as standard.