I don't know about you, but I think one of the most dreadful things in life is mediocrity. Mediocrity is an insidious trap, because it doesn't give you the urge to move or change. We often find ourselves settling for what is safe and what is common.
Fortunately, with the new Mazda 6 Wagon, Berjaya Auto Philippines is daring us to be different and to drive our lives away from mediocrity. The question is: Just how can this niche car attract buyers? Will it appeal to those who are looking for the cargo-hauling capability of an SUV? Or will it entice buyers looking for the performance, comfort and first-rate features of a midsize sedan?
Since the release of the current-generation Mazda 6 back in 2013, owners of the sedan have been used to getting a lot of oohs and aahs whenever they step out of their cars, thanks to the combined sportiness and dynamic aesthetics of Mazda's Kodo design philosophy.
The 6 Wagon takes it a notch higher and makes people say: "Wait...what?" It is a legit head-turner as it approaches, and at first glance the extended roofline evokes surprise and delight.
The design of this wagon is either hit or miss, depending on the observer. But that's only because you either love it or prefer the sedan version. It takes a special kind of appreciation for people to really be attracted to its styling, simply because it is something you don't commonly see on our roads. But that's okay--it was designed to stand out.
Upon entering the cockpit, you will forget that you are inside a Japanese midsize wagon. Everything screams fancy inside this vehicle. There are generous tan/white leather and high-grade soft plastic that seem to have been sourced from a German vehicle. Such a pleasure to hold, the steering wheel gives you the excitement to drive. The command control is such a breeze to operate as you toggle between your music, phonebook, the optional navigation system, and all the necessary details and settings of your vehicle.
Driving ergonomics is also pretty much premium, largely due to the tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and eight-way power seat adjustment. This makes the car comfortable to drive for hours whether you're on your way to your next Baler surfing trip or just stuck in the middle of EDSA during rush hour.
Like in the sedan, the headroom of the wagon is pretty low and may be an issue for six-footers. Unlike the sedan, however, this wagon actually provides better headroom in the rear due to the extended roofline. Some additional features like memory settings for side mirrors and a panoramic sunroof would have made the Mazda 6 Sports Wagon's interior near perfect.
It's interesting to note that the 6 Wagon has a cargo volume of 506L--comparable to that of a CX-5, if not better. The wagon achieves this by having a deeper boot space that might require you to lean over a little bit further to reach your things.
The 6 Wagon uses the same 2.5-liter in-line-four Skyactiv-G engine and six-speed automatic transmission of the sedan version. One push of the start button and you instantly hear the engine's mighty roar, loud enough to give you assurance that this sexy thing is ready to take you places. Driving this vehicle on a two-lane road gives you confidence to overtake slow-moving tricycles and trucks. Just hit the kick-down detent under the gas pedal and the car will smoothly go down a gear or two to give you that added boost.
Moreover, the Sports mode just makes you want to drive the wagon hard--so hard that you have to reach the 6,000rpm mark before a gearshift takes place. Once you've tried it, it literally becomes an addiction that just makes you want to push the pedal.
Don't let the engine's sporty features deceive you. A week with the wagon gave us a fuel-economy reading of about 18km/L on the highway and close to 10km/L in the city. Pretty decent economy for a heavy foot.
RIDE AND HANDLING
You can easily distinguish the handling of the sedan from the wagon. The smaller 2,750mm wheelbase of the 6 Wagon (as opposed to the 2,830mm wheelbase of the sedan) makes a world of difference.
With the wagon, you are one with the machine. The smoothness gives you an intuitive feeling of how it will respond to your steering. This was proven when we drove it on Tanay's twisties: The car just willingly danced its way through the corners. Regardless of the speed, it kept its wheels planted on the ground, giving us peace of mind as we focused on the twists and turns. The 6 Wagon probably gave me the closest feeling to the excitement I'd felt driving the MX-5. It is that good.
The 19-inch wheels are just too beautiful to look at, but they do compromise some comfort especially when you're driving over the worst potholes in the city. Regardless, the 6 Wagon offers one of the best--if not the best--handling in its class with its combined refinement and complexity, comparable to that of other premium vehicles (hello, Germans!).
(Read: Mazda 6 Skyactiv-G 2.5 review)
Needless to say, Mazda makes sure that all vehicles rolling out of its plant are packed with high-tech features that not only ensure pleasurable driving but also passenger safety. The i-Eloop and the i-Stop are mainstay features from the pre-updated models, but the Mazda Connect and Command Control (Mazda's version of BMW's iDrive) is finally on the Mazda 6 after appearing on both the 3 and the 2. Other useful features like the lane-keep assist system and Mazda's new adaptive LED headlamps just take the safety features to a whole new level.
The lane-keep assist activates when you're driving 60kph and faster, and notifies you via an audible alert or vibration on the steering wheel when you are unintentionally changing lanes. It also helps you navigate the car back to its designated lane.
Mazda's new adaptive headlamps, on the other hand, completely change the dynamics of nighttime driving. Say goodbye to those days when you constantly have to switch from low beam to high beam. The ALH automatically does this work for you. Watch this video to know more about this feature.
The Mazda 6 Wagon is in a league of its own, not because of the absence of a proper rival but because of its capabilities. It is packed with features that will put both executive sedans and SUVs to shame. It boasts German features at Japanese pricing.
With this wagon, you have a stylish car that provides the exhilarating and comfortable driving experience of executive sedans and the versatile utility of SUVs.
SPECS: MAZDA 6 WAGON SKYACTIV-G 2.5
Engine: 2.-5-liter in-line-four Skyactiv-G gasoline
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 185hp @ 5,700rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 3,250rpm
Drive layout: FWD
Photos by Adelbert de Jesus