Despite being on the market for over 10 years now, the Mazda6 is testament that old can still certainly be gold.
Now I’ll be the first to admit it that when I first received word that the Mazda6 is getting another refresh locally last month, I laughed out loud. I mean, who is actually still to be interested in a car that has been on sale largely unchanged for the past 11 years?
Then having read the press release regarding this newly-launched 20th Anniversary Edition and realised that Mazda still has the bare faced cheek to charge a whopping RM 240k for this particular variant, I actually laughed harder. Because seriously, who in their right mind would actually pay nearly a-quarter-of-a-million ringgit for this outdated sedan, especially when there is a cornucopia of shiny new (and electrified) alternatives that could be had for the same price?
But having actually had the chance to spend (an albeit short amount of) time with one recently, I have come to realise that, in this case of the Mazda6 at least, old could very well still be gold. And funnily enough, the one thing that made me see the light to this point was actually also to be one of the features that I had immediately ridiculed upon first getting into the Mazda6 — it’s dated infotainment system.
Just to provide some rather necessary context here, I had actually jumped straight out of a Volvo C40 (and its space age infotainment system) into this Mazda. So the tiny 8-inch central screen with its low resolution and graphics that look as if it dated back to the decade prior featured in this Japanese sedan did really feel like I went from a iPhone 15 to a ZX Spectrum.
Though in kicking off the theme of this Mazda6 being old but gold, my initial prejudices with the infotainment system did vanish surprisingly quickly upon just using it. And such was because while the concept of having a rotary knob on the centre console be the primary means of controlling the infotainment system is certainly antiquated in this modern era, how easily it just comes to hand when navigating through menus is something that made me really wonder why did we even get rid of this fantastic feature in new cars nowadays, and in its place replaced it with massive (and massively complicated) touchscreens that require drivers to dangerously take their eyes off the road just to tap on its tiny icons.
What more is that Mazda has certainly made the user experience all the more pleasurable by providing just the right level of weight and feedback to make it a sufficiently premium item to the touch. Also, the central infotainment display within the Mazda6 is still a touchscreen, which hence offers the best of both worlds in terms of input methods. And I bring this up here because the newer Mazda3 has an infotainment system that works solely off the scroll wheel, which did become slightly bothersome on occasion…
That said though, as for an aspect of the Mazda6 where old may not quite be gold now, its comparatively cramped cabin does indeed highlight for cars to have certainly gotten bigger in the last 10+ years since this sedan was first launched. There are unfortunately other clear signs too of it being born from a different decade than the one we are in right now, like the wireless charging pad crammed into the centre console for instance being not technically big enough for any modern plus-sized smartphone.
Mention of the wireless charging pad however does neatly highlight that Mazda has in the intervening decade nevertheless brought on board a whole lot of mod-cons to its flagship sedan. This 20th Anniversary Edition variant is especially well-equipped, with its major kit worth mentioning within including a rather premium-feeling exclusive tan leather upholstery, fantastically cold ventilated front seats, an admittedly small sunroof, the obligatory luxury sedan feature of roller blinds for the rear window and a self-dimming frameless rear-view mirror.
Just continuing on things worth a mention as well, as expected from Mazda’s ambition to compete in a higher echelon over its other Japanese counterparts, the fit and finish both outside and within this Mazda 6 expectedly top class. And this high level of quality is only to be continued onto the refined way it carries itself on the road, with little noise from the wind or road disrupting the rather good sound pumped out by its 11-speaker Bose audio system.
The rather accomplished ride further adds to the overall premium experience when being in the Mazda6 too, as its suspension is somehow supple enough to soak up most of the road imperfections, while still amazingly being taut enough to let the driver experience the Mazda zoom-zoom experience round a corner when the mood takes them. And while on the topic of zoom-zoom, the Mazda6’s steering is well weighted and direct enough to make this large sedan feel as chuckable and lithe as if it were a car from a segment smaller.
As for what lies under the hood meanwhile, the 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated SkyActiv-G four-pot has a refreshingly old-school linear power delivery to it, especially in this current world of violent bursts of speed from boosted and/or electrified powertrains. Also, while 192 horsepower might not seem like a lot (especially for such a large car), I can nevertheless confirm that the digits on its heads up display will indeed rise with surprising rapidity if the go pedal was to be firmly depressed into the deep carpets.
Unfortunately, the otherwise stellar drive that could be had with this Mazda6 is let down somewhat by the rather antiquated six-speed automatic transmission. Though interestingly enough, it is not for the lack of ratios relative to its more modern counterparts, but more instead because of the slight jerkiness that was a consistent presence when stuck in stop-start traffic
Getting back once again to the general old but gold theme with this Mazda6 now, it has to be said that this over decade-old design is still as sharp and as sleek as the day it was first showcased as the Takeri concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show way back in 2011. In fact, this 20th Anniversary Edition is perhaps the zenith of the Mazda6’s looks, with the gunmetal finish on its mesh front grille and similarly silver-grey 19-inch multi spoke alloy wheels perfectly complementing its variant-exclusive Artisan Red Premium hue.
In all honesty however, the best ‘old but gold’ aspect with this Mazda6 for me at least is actually the fact for largely the same car to potentially be yours used from around a sixth (RM 40k+) of the price of this 20th Anniversary Edition tested here. Though this is perhaps just as well then, as the whole (admittedly token quantity of) local stock of this special edition of Japanese sedan have all been spoken for within days of when word of its existence over here first got out…
Mazda6 2.5L High Plus Sedan ‘20th Anniversary Edition’ Technical Specifications
Engine: SKYACTIV-G DOHC 16-Valve 4 Cylinder With VVT
Capacity: 2,488 cc
Gearbox: SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6 speed automatic with manual shift mode
Max Power: 192 PS @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque: 258 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Top Speed: 223 km/h
Price: RM 240,848.00