Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

When it takes the wraps off its new Mazda6 today at the Frankfurt auto show, Mazda Motor Corp. also will be unveiling a new “bold and exquisite” – yet still very Japanese – styling direction for the car, officials say.

“It is vitally important that the new Mazda6 confidently embodies a Japanese design identity,” chief designer Youichi Sato says in a statement. “And it must still look fresh in 10 years’ time.”

The Mazda6, the first generation of which in 2002 heralded Mazda’s signature “zoom-zoom” product image, is all new for Europe, with larger dimensions all around and availability of a new 4-cyl. engine.

Mazda says the car, which goes on sale in Europe in November, is not identical to the North American Mazda6 due next summer, which has been tailored to local market tastes.

The second-generation Mazda6 sedan and hatchback gains 2.6 ins. (65 mm) in length on the outgoing model. It also is 0.6 ins. (15 mm) wider and 0.2 ins. (5 mm) taller, while wheelbase is increased some 2.0 ins. (50 mm).

Powering the Mazda6 lineup in Europe, where a station wagon also will be sold, is a new 2.5L 4-cyl. gasoline engine making 167 hp and 167 lb.-ft. (226 Nm) of torque. Mazda says it bored out the outgoing 2.3L and lengthened its stroke, as well as added freer-flowing intake and exhaust ports, to improve torque 10% in the most frequently used engine-speed range.

Three other 4-cyl. engines are carried over from the outgoing Mazda6: a 1.8L and 2.0L gas engine and Mazda’s MZR-CD 2.0L turbodiesel generating 138 hp and 243 lb.-ft. (330 Nm) of torque.

Mazda says the smaller gas engines’ fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions have improved about 10%.

Transmissions offered include a 5-speed manual (1.8L); 6-speed manual (2.0L gas and diesel, 2.5L); and a 5-speed automatic (2.0L gas). The 6-speed manual adds larger synchronizers between 5th and 6th gears, lowering high-speed shift force 15% vs. the previous 6-speed manual.

Mazda has increased the number of subframe-to-body mount points from four to six for the double-wishbone front suspension for “refined steering stability” and ride comfort.

Also improving comfort is the higher placement of the multi-link rear suspension’s trailing link front pivot.

An electric power steering system replaces the first-generation’s hydraulic system to offer steering that is better weighted to vehicle speed and improves fuel economy 2%, Mazda says.

Greater use of high-tensile and ultra-high-tensile steel has reduced weight, while improving torsional stiffness 30% for the hatchback, 25% for the wagon and 14% for the sedan, the auto maker says.

Inside, Mazda moves the steering wheel angle up, setting it at 21 degrees for improved driver comfort. A “heartbeat” effect is part of a welcome mode activated when the driver turns on the car, with lights illuminating in order of precedence and certain switch lights activating up and fading down.

A cross-functional network (CF-Net) has steering wheel switches that integrate control of the vehicle’s navigation, audio and air-conditioning systems, among others, with a display at the top of the center stack.

Mazda promises a quieter interior thanks to efforts to eliminate unwanted engine and road noise.

Mazda says the 5-door hatchback possesses a “coupe-style silhouette,” while the sedan’s appearance is less boxy due to its “tautly-arched cabin” and hatchback-like, short, rising rear end.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com