Mazda refreshed the third generation of the 6/Atenza range twice after the initial car launch in 2012 at the Moscow International Automobile Salon.
It was the first generation of the Mazda 6 developed without Ford looking over its shoulders, and the Japanese designer Akira Tamatani went wild with it. The Kodo-soul style showed a vehicle that was better fitted in the large sedans than in the mid-size segment. Mazda didn't care about that: all it cared was to have a breathtaking looking flagship sedan, and it had it.
The first facelift came in 2014 and showed small differences in the door mirror's turn signals and a few tiny details. In 2018, Mazda designers drastically improved the already beautiful sport sedan with LED headlights and a wider grille that made the car looks lower to the ground. The carmaker included a new set of 17- and 19" light-alloy wheels in the options list.
Inside, Mazda carried over only the steering wheel and a few trim parts from the second-facelift. The climate-control unit looked very similar to the one found in a BMW 3-Series, and it was installed lower on the center stack, just above the center console. The carmaker noticed that it was no longer that relevant; hence it offered an automatic function. An MX5-inspired infotainment display found its place on top of the dashboard. The driver could control it via a rotary knob placed on the center console. For excellent sound quality, Mazda installed a Bose sound system.
Under the hood, the Japanese carmaker installed a choice of two gasoline and one diesel engine, offered in a wide power range between 145 hp and 227 hp.
The 2015 Mazda 6 Sedan was more of a facelift for the second generation model. Since the second generation had an award-winning design, it was hard to change something and not spoil it. Using the KODO design principles, they changed it without breaking anything
It is very hard to visually enhance a vehicle that was acclaimed for its look, and the design seemed to look brand new even after 4 years. Mazda had this situation when it had to rejuvenate its top model, the large model 6. But it had to and the most important elements that it changed were under the hood. On the outside, there were few subtle modifications, such as the turn signals from the exterior rearview mirrors. On the facelifted version there were horizontal instead of vertical. The grille had a 3D pattern, like a mesh with diamonds on it.
Big enhancements were to be found inside the cabin, where the dashboard was more driver-oriented. A head-up display was added to the features, a new steering wheel and better materials were used. Also, a 360 degrees camera system was included in the options list.
A new system was installed in the car, to enhance cornering speed. When cornering, a slight brake was applied on the inside wheels and on the exit the torque sent to the wheels is amplified. Thus, the car will handle better on bends. It is something that good drivers do: slight brake before the turn and throttle after the apex. But Mazda's technology is better since it brakes only the inside wheels. Most of the engines and transmissions are carried over from the non-facelift model.
After it separated from Ford Motor Company, Mazda pushed hard to create its place on the market, and one of its most outstanding successes was the 6/Atenza sedan that was unveiled at the 2012 Moskow International Automobile Salon.
The four-door vehicle followed the lines and the shape of the Takeri concept car shown by Mazda at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. It was ages ahead of everything the Japanese automaker ever launched in the mid-size sedan segment. As a result, it was a finalist for the 2013 "World Car Design of the Year" award.
Penned by Akira Tamatani, the 2012 Mazda 6 sported ample, curved lines on the bodywork, like a flowing river. Its swept-back headlights flanked the broad grille that sported a pentagonal shape, and lower on the bumper, the automaker installed a trapezoidal cooling area flanked by the side scoops for the fog lamps. From its profile, the flared wheel arches were visually extended with sculptured lines on the doors. The greenhouse featured a raked-forward windscreen at the back, and a raised short deck behind it.
Inside, the driver fronted a classic instrument cluster with two large analog dials and a TFT display between them. On top of the center console, easy to reach by the driver, there was the infotainment system equipped with a touch-screen display. It could have been upgraded to a Bose premium sound system. The car was fitted as standard with Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. Thanks to its bolstered front seats, the occupants could stay in place during hard-cornering maneuvers. At the back, the bench was wide enough to accommodate three passengers, yet the sloped-down greenhouse didn't provide too much headroom for taller people.
The wide range of engines and transmissions also included an all-wheel-drive system. In addition, the all-wheel independent suspension offered a great level of comfort.
Mazda introduced the second generation of the 6 in September 2007, and even if it was larger than its predecessor, it was lighter and sportier.
Ford owned a big chunk of Mazda since 1996, and as part of the plan was sharing platforms and engines between the brands. That's why the Mazda 6 received the Mondeo's platform, and it was a good move. The Japanese carmaker was known for its sporty products, starting whit the best-selling roadster globally, the MX5, and the only sports car on the market with a rotary engine, the RX8. The 6 tried to offer a pleasant, sporty feeling for a family sedan.
Mazda designers decided to combine curved lines and sharp angles. The front wheel-arches were enlarged, and the swept-back headlights evoked the samurai warrior eyes. Its wide, V-shaped pentagonal grille enhanced the sporty look of the vehicle. Despite being taller, wider, and longer than its predecessor, it was lighter by 35 kg (77.2 lbs).
The interior was large and comfortable for four adult passengers. While the front bucket seats featured average-height bolstering, the rear bench was profiled for two occupants. Depending on the trim level, Mazda installed a Bose sound system and a sat-nav.
Under the hood, Mazda installed a wide range of engines. For starters, a 1.8-liter was considered good enough, mostly for fleet use. Depending on the market, the 6 offered a Ford-sourced 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Due to its independent suspension in all corners, it offered good handling and comfort.
Made as a factory-sleeper, the Mazda 6 MPS was a real wolf in sheep clothes that could outperform many sporty vehicles, including its Japanese competitors.
Mazda was the first Japanese carmaker that won the 24h of LeMans race, and its motorsport heritage was great, but it wasn't known for sporty sedans. The 6 was designed as a family vehicle and shared its platform with Ford Mondeo. But the 6 MPS was a different kind of animal. Its turbocharged engine and the all-wheel-drive system placed it directly against more acclaimed cars such as the Subaru Impreza WRX or the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
A trained eye would have instantly noticed the differences between the MPS and the rest of the 6 range due to the power-dome on the hood and the wider grille at the front. A broad additional grille took center stage on the bumper flanked on the sides by air-intakes that cooled the front brakes. Its 18" light-alloy wheels were unique for the version. In the rear, a lip-spoiler and a dual exhaust system completed the sporty look of the sedan.
Inside, the carmaker failed to create the same sporty interior as the exterior and kept the same bland look as for the rest of the range. The regular seats with small side bolstering didn't match the car's cornering abilities. Apart from the polished aluminum pedals, it was just another Mazda 6 designed for families but with leather instead of fabric upholstery.
Mazda installed a turbocharged 2.3-liter engine under the hood, paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox that sent the power in all corners. Its front and rear independent suspension and stiff dampers significantly improved the car's cornering abilities.
The 6/Atenza was introduced for the first time in 2002 and, by 2005, it was already an established car on the market. But Mazda decided to give it a facelift to keep it up to date.
The Mazda 6 bears the name Atenza on some markets, but it was the same vehicle. It was offered in three body versions: sedan, hatchback, and station wagon. The facelift occurred in 2005 affected all three of them and brought new engines to comply with the latest emission standards in Europe and new features onboard.
From the outside, the look resembled the tuning community with its clear headlights and four round lamps inside. Its sleek, curved look with sharp angles between the lines made it a distinct car for the new-edge design trend. It was normal since Ford launched the trend, and Mazda was a Ford Motor Company member. The three-box version featured a raked C-pillar look and a short and tall trunk lid. The taillights followed the same design idea as the headlights.
Inside, the sporty feeling was amplified by slim metallic trims around the black interior panels. The round air-vents and the four-round analog dials in the instrument cluster confirmed the car's sporty character. There was plenty of room in the back for up to three passengers, and the trunk was good for its class. But it wasn't designed as a utility vehicle.
Under the hood, the 6/Atenza featured a choice of diesel and gasoline engine, either developed by the Japanese company or by Ford. Some of them were available with automatic transmission.
The 2002 Mazda medium-sizes sedan was a design hit, and its underpinnings were good. Its only problem was the rust, which damaged its clean, nice image.
When a new generation replaced it, its body didn't look old. Some newer vehicles looked older than the first-generation Mazda6/Atenza. The sharp design, sporty look, and three bodywork choices helped customers worldwide to choose the car. A wide engine range could satisfy most of the mid-size car market customers.
The Mazda 6 was available in few trim levels, with specific options installed. Top versions had a sat-nav system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a Bose sound system. Bucket seats were installed on sportier trims, but even the standard ones were good for holding their occupants in place while cornering.
The platform used on the 2002 Mazda6 was actually used for more vehicles from the Ford Motor Company. At that time, Mazda was in a partnership with the American company. Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, and Zephyr or the CX9 SUV from Mazda were built on the same architecture, with an all-wheel independent suspension and all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive choices. That said, most Mazda6s had front-wheel-drive. Engines varied from a 1.8-liter with 125 hp up to 220 hp from a 3.0-liter V6 in some markets. The transmissions offered were either five or six-speed manuals. For the automatic versions, there were four or five speeds available, depending on the engine.