We were in Thailand recently to attend the \"Skyactiv Technology Forum\" hosted by Mazda Motors for ASEAN motoring journalists. The two-day event involved more than just Mazda\'s Japanese engineers talking about all the development behind its next-generation technology--it also saw us get behind the wheel of the Mazda 6. The best part about this is that we got to drive not just the gasoline-powered 6 with its Skyactiv-G engine but also the diesel-fed variant with the Skyactiv-D mill.
You’ve probably read Botchi\'s take on the gasoline Mazda 6 in our April issue, so we\'ll skip that variant. Instead, we\'ll let you in on what it\'s like to drive the diesel version at the Kaeng Krachan circuit.
The first impression you\'ll get right after you sit inside and fire up the car with the start/stop button is that it\'s very quiet, with no hint of the expected diesel clatter at all. Even if you’re outside standing right beside the car, you might even think it’s the standard, gasoline 6.
Your assumption that it\'s a regular Mazda 6 is thrown out the window once you step on the accelerator. The 420Nm of torque generated by the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D clean diesel engine is instantaneous as it pulls you back and pins you in the driver’s seat. But the twin-turbo, mated to a six-speed Skyactiv-Drive slushbox, makes sure the power delivery is smooth, with no hint of lag or shift shock whatsoever. True to Mazda\'s sporty zoom-zoom nature, the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel only adds to the playfulness of this midsize sedan.
The test drive also enabled us to experience the other Skyactiv technologies made for the 6.
The suspension geometry of the Skyactiv chassis, for example, eliminates the body roll you\'d normally experience in sudden lane changes. The car is also very well composed as the front end hardly dips down in emergency braking situations.
Our positive impression of the diesel 6 was further enhanced when Mazda Motors R&D director Hirotaka Kanazawa told us that driving it right after we had finished our run in the gasoline version would only make us forget the latter.
Unfortunately, it\'s highly doubtful we\'ll ever see the diesel 6 sold here. According to Mazda, the clean diesel Skyactiv-D won’t accept diesel fuel that has a sulfur content of 500 parts per million, which is what’s widely available in the Philippines. If ever the diesel 6 is sold here, refueling it is strictly limited to Unioil\'s Euro IV diesel fuel, which has a 50ppm sulfur content.
Although we won\'t get the oil-burning Mazda 6, at least the other Skyactiv technologies like the transmission, the chassis and the body are present in the locally available gasoline 6. Still, we couldn\'t help but ask Steven Tan, chief executive of Berjaya Auto Philippines, Mazda\'s official distributor in the country, how much his company can theoretically price the diesel 6 if it\'s ever sold locally.
\"Definitely below P2 million,\" Tan said. \"It will be slightly more expensive than the gasoline Mazda 6, but it won’t go over P2 million.\"
Now, would you buy the diesel Mazda 6 for less than P2 million even though you will be limited to one brand of diesel fuel?
Photo by Patrick Everett Tadeo