The ‘upgraded’ Mazda6 model range for 2005 benefits from much more than a mere facelift and builds on the many virtues that made the original Mazda6 the Mazda brand’s top-selling model in the UK. Beneath the stylish exteriors of Mazda’s immensely popular saloon, hatchback and estate are a host of major technical innovations and enhancements which demand that the 2005 Mazda6 models are indeed regarded as ‘great cars which just got even better’.

In the UK, the second generation Mazda6 is on sale now, offering customers a 27-strong model line-up, starting at £14,100 (on-the-road) and rising to £19,200, with a choice of five powertrains and four equipment levels. Petrol engined models are already in dealer showrooms, while diesel models and automatic models will follow later in the year.

The upgraded Mazda6 now has retuned suspension for even more dynamic handling, a strengthened body shell, much improved NVH and a host of practical and cosmetic exterior and interior refinements. All three body styles – Mazda6 saloon, Mazda6 hatchback and Mazda6 Estate – benefit from these updates.

Two new body colours are available – Phantom Blue Mica and Tungsten Grey Metallic – in the eight colour range, plus stylish new 16-inch 5-spoke and 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels and twin exhaust tailpipes on 2.0 and 2.3 petrol models. The 2.3 Estate 4WD and 2.3-litre 4-door Sport models, are no longer available in the UK.

Mazda6 customers love the look of the car, so changes to the exterior are limited to a few subtle modifications. The front grille is more deeply recessed and flatter, with a honeycomb mesh pattern. New headlight and tail light units feature dark grey bezels with chrome lamp surrounds, while both front and rear bumpers are restyled to emphasise the car’s sporty stance. In total, these design changes give the upgraded Mazda6 an even more dynamic appearance.

Modifications to the interior are more tangible compared to those on the outside of the car. The re-styled centre instrument panel is designed to deliver a high quality feel. The console now has a new dark titanium surface (depending on grade), instead of the silver metallic of the outgoing model, with a separate ‘piano black’ radio/CD and re-styled switches, plus new surface materials and softer upholstery underscore the natural elegance of the cockpit. Original Mazda6’s strengths are retained, including the ingenious Karakuri ultra-easy folding rear seat on hatchback and estate models, which can be lowered without removing the head restraints.

For both drivers and passengers, travelling in the upgraded Mazda6 will be an even more comfortable, fatigue-free experience. The combination of body shell reinforcements; additional sound insulation, and new wheel and tyre combinations, has enabled Mazda engineers to greatly improve NVH and significantly reduce onboard noise levels in the cabin.

All five engines in the upgraded Mazda6 deliver equal or more power and torque than their predecessors, with equal or lower combined fuel consumption and CO2 levels – while achieving Euro 4 emissions ranking.

The modified MZR-CD 2.0-litre turbo diesel is fitted with a variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) and is offered in two derivatives. The standard power version produces 121 ps and 320 Nm (up 10 Nm). With multi-stage fuel injection, the high power diesel version generates 143 ps (up 7 ps) and peak torque of 360 Nm (up 50 Nm).

Customers who prefer petrol have a choice of three engines. While the 1.8-litre engine remains unchanged (except for the ECT), Mazda engineers modified the 2.0-litre power unit to produce 147 ps and 184 Nm. Twin exhausts also boost the performance of this engine and the largest capacity, most powerful engine – the highly sophisticated MZR 2.3-litre.

Two newly developed transmissions feature in the upgraded Mazda6. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for all models, except the 1.8-litre petrol, and is optimised to make the best use of each engine’s particular power and torque characteristics.

A new five-speed Activematic automatic will be available (from October) as an option on the 2.0-litre petrol (TS and TS2 grades), replacing the previous four-speed automatic. This transmission allows drivers to select fully-automatic operation or to manually select gears. Engine improvements and new transmissions have resulted in lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions for most models.  The greatest improvement is achieved by the 2.0-litre 4-door diesel hatchbacks and saloons with an additional 3.6 mpg and a reduction in CO2 of up to 9 g/km.

Even the entry-level S model of the upgraded Mazda6 range comes with generous standard equipment including: manual air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, electric windows front and rear, a radio/CD unit with four speakers, remote central locking, six airbags and ABS anti-lock braking.

On higher specification models, standard equipment can include climate control air conditioning, onboard computer, leather steering wheel and shift lever, cruise control, a Bose® sound system with seven speakers and CD changer, xenon headlights, semi-bucket front seats with increased leg and back support, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) – depending on model.