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Oct 10, 2003
Detroit - The production version of Mazda's new flagship sedan, the MAZDA6, makes its worldwide debut today at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. With class-leading performance, packaging, style and value, the MAZDA6 symbolizes Mazda Motor Corporation's return to producing the kind of cars that established the automaker's Zoom-Zoom image. The new MAZDA6 is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in early 2003.
"With the MAZDA6, we are about to take a giant step toward reigniting the Mazda spark," said Mark Fields, president of Mazda Motor Corporation. "We took an unconventional approach in the development of the MAZDA6 giving it style, driving dynamics and an overall appeal that should quickly establish it as a leader among the current crop of conservative midsize sedans." Mazda set five goals for the development of this vehicle:
Distinctive and attractive styling
The first thing you'll notice about the MAZDA6 is an exterior design that is both aggressive as well as sophisticated. As part of Mazda's new design philosophy, which seeks to strike an emotional balance between form and engineering, the MAZDA6 presents a stylish, yet solid presence as well as a promise of superior driving performance.
Each of the MAZDA6 body styles - 5-door hatchback, 4-door sedan and wagon - has an athletic stance, the result of pronounced wheel arches and a lower body that's wider than the top. By clearly defining the shoulders, eliminating corners and placing visual weight between the front and rear wheels; the styling of the MAZDA6 will instantly distinguish it in a world of boxy, look-alike sedans. In addition, even with its athletic exterior, the MAZDA6 retains an amazingly spacious interior, a testament to skillful design and packaging.
The front of the MAZDA6 is confident and slightly aggressive, highlighted by Mazda's bold "winged M" in the center of the signature five-point grille and topped with a stylish, chrome accent.
Integrated, multi-function headlights offer a bright and broad field of illumination and suggest a powerful sense of forward motion. The rear combination lamps feature a clear lens similar to the headlights, and wrap into the rear quarter panels to give the bodylines a more natural, fluid flow. This unrelenting attention to detail is the result of countless modifications employing both the latest computer design technologies and sculpted clay models.
A new standard of interior design
Opening the door of the MAZDA6 reveals an expansive and roomy interior, far larger than the sporty exterior would suggest. Even so, sitting behind the wheel allows the driver to immediately anticipate a fun driving experience. This remarkable achievement is the result of optimal space distribution as well as a driver-oriented, highly functional layout.
The MAZDA6 design team made extensive use of three-dimensional computer modeling techniques to optimize the interior package, providing greater comfort and convenience for a broad range of people and ease of loading and unloading luggage. While functionality was key, designers also spent a great deal of effort to carefully choose materials and colors for a sophisticated look and feel. For example, a titanium-finish center dash has chrome accents and round dials to give the interior a high-quality, contemporary look.
To bring Mazda's design philosophy to the interior, the design team looked at instrument panel innovations on vehicles dating back as far as 100 years. The team took the best ideas and incorporated them with recent findings in customer preference to bring about a feeling of oneness between man and machine.
As a result, the MAZDA6 has a supremely functional layout offering the driver extremely easy to read and operate controls and switches, all designed with Mazda's sports car heritage in mind.
For example, the large tachometer and speedometer inherit a traditional round shape with chrome bezels, similar in design to Mazda's famous RX-7 sports car and classic MX-5 Miata roadster. Other instrumentation shares this round shape for a consistent look and feel throughout the MAZDA6 interior. In addition, frequently operated audio controls are mounted high on the console closer to the driver's line of sight. For more convenient operation during spirited driving, the steering wheel has remote audio and cruise control switches.
In a perfect world, a vehicle would provide a roomy, comfortable interior for any driver, anywhere in the world, regardless of his or her size. This concept was a major goal in the development of the MAZDA6.
In creating the new global standard for interior in the segment, Mazda conducted extensive research on target customers, and also researched the ergonomics of all aspects of the interior. Designers focused on increasing front and rear shoulder room and rear-seat knee clearance for passengers to achieve class-leading roominess in the mid-size sedan class. The result is a relaxing environment for all occupants in both everyday use and on long drives.
For the driver, the MAZDA6 features an extensive range of seat adjustment as well as a telescopic steering wheel - unique to its class - that adjusts for tilt and rake to give drivers of all sizes an optimal driving position. In addition, the driver's seat provides comfortable, fatigue-free posture, thanks to superior lateral and lumbar support and vibration-absorbing cushion materials.
A unique feature of the MAZDA6 hatchback and wagon is its fold-down rear seat that is exceptionally easy to operate. The inspiration for the design of the seat came from a "karakuri," a traditional Japanese wind-up doll. A single touch on a handle in the luggage area causes the rear seat cushions to lower into the floor while the seat backs fold forward to create an entirely flat load floor. With this design, there is no running to the passenger door to pull the rear seat down, and no need to remove the headrests.
In addition, the rear seats are 60/40 split and can be folded separately, allowing the accommodation of longer items - such as skis - without sacrificing the entire rear seating area.
A variety of other measures are employed to make the luggage space itself as large and convenient as possible. To minimize the intrusion of suspension components into the luggage compartment, Mazda engineers developed the new E-type multi-link rear suspension, and thanks to the compact design, a spacious luggage space is attained without compromising suspension travel.
Thoughtfully designed storage spaces are another feature of the user-friendly MAZDA6 interior. A large glove box with a damped lid provides generous storage, while the dashboard features a felt-lined upper storage tray that is concealed by a flip-back lid. A voluminous double-bottom stowage box is located in the center console, and door pockets for the driver and front passenger contain a bin large enough to hold a drink bottle.
One of the most important issues in achieving benchmark performance for the new MAZDA6 was to further refine the responsive handling and performance for which Mazda is known worldwide.
The key component in this was the development of an entirely new platform that has a wide track and a low center of gravity, composed of a newly developed front double-wishbone/rear E-type multi-link suspension and a high-rigidity body. These allow the MAZDA6 to deliver uncompromisingly responsive handling and performance.
The performance attributes of the MAZDA6 include precise handling, linear steering that delivers stability in both a straight line as well as through curves, confident braking capability that is expected to produce one of the shortest stopping distances in its class, and a smooth, comfortable ride, no matter how long the journey.
At the front, the MAZDA6 features a high-mounted, double-wishbone suspension with MacPherson struts. The upper wishbone is pressed steel while the lower wishbone features two-forged-steel arms - the damper and springs are located coaxially. A long suspension travel, minimized offset between the virtual kingpin axis and wheel center, and lengthened suspension arms ensure optimal tire-to-road contact and feedback from the road surface for superior grip and control. Low-friction ball joints in the suspension arms and reduced friction loss in the dampers contribute to the linear steering response, while built-in rebound spring dampers and a large-diameter stabilizer bar contribute to improved roll motion.
For the rear, the MAZDA6 features a newly developed E-type multi-link suspension with a low-profile layout of coil springs and dampers enabling the entire unit to fit under the rear cargo floor. The rear suspension delivers excellent handling and a very comfortable ride thanks to a long suspension travel that is designed to retain cargo space.
Finally, to complement the suspension system's outstanding performance, the MAZDA6 features extreme body rigidity based on Mazda's unique safety body structure. This reinforces the critical parts for improved handling, stability and ride comfort.
Class-leading brake performance was another top development priority for the MAZDA6. Outstanding response, linear feel for pedal operation and a shorter stopping distance were the main goals for Mazda engineers who began by conducting computer simulations to define the optimal pedal feel under a wide variety of braking situations, and closely examining the specifications of individual brake components.
The first step was to greatly reduce free travel in the brake pedal by reworking a number of key brake components and optimizing pedal layout. Measures adopted to achieve smooth, linear braking include high-rigidity brake calipers, a tie-rod type brake booster with zero-loss travel, and a new high-rigidity type brake hose.
The MAZDA6's four-wheel disc brakes boast powerful, stable performance that is designed to exceed the performance of European sports sedans. In addition, the four-wheel anti-lock brake system with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) effectively shortens the vehicle's stopping distance.
The MAZDA6 also features advanced technologies such as dynamic stability control, and an electronically controlled brake assist system that detects emergency braking through brake pedal operation and immediately enhances braking power.
For the North American market, the MAZDA6 will be available with a choice of two different, newly developed engines: a 2.3L 4-cylinder or a 3.0L V6. Both engines are available with either a manual or automatic transmission.
Mazda's new 2.3L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine is a member of the company's all-new engine line, developed to achieve world-class performance in combination with lower emissions and smooth, quiet operation. The 2.3L engine produces 160-horsepower (estimate) and 155 lb-ft of torque (estimated).
This new engine intelligently incorporates advanced technologies such as sequential valve timing (S-VT) to vary valve timing for intake valves according to engine speed and load, a variable induction system mounted in the resin intake manifold and tumble swirl control valves.
The 4-2-1 stainless-steel exhaust manifold allowed Mazda engineers to simplify the rest of the exhaust system and eliminate the need for a close-coupled catalyst. Combined with a dual silencer, this reduces engine back pressure and helps improve real-world performance and high-speed fuel economy.
The new 2.3L 4-cylinder engine also features an all-aluminum cylinder block with a ribbed ladder-frame structure and balance shafts, which contribute to its extreme durability and smooth operation.
The MAZDA6 also offers a high-performance 3.0L DOHC 24-valve V6 engine, which is also equipped with S-VT. It produces 218-horsepower (estimated) and 192 lb-ft of torque (estimated).
Even though the V6 produces a great deal of power, it is expected to be very fuel-efficient. Roller finger cam followers, with bucket-style tappets, minimize valvetrain friction that could negatively impact fuel economy. The V6 also uses the same air cleaner with variable duct and reduced back-pressure with dual silencer as the 2.3L 4-cylinder.
The V6's aluminum cylinder block is manufactured with iron cylinder liners for durability. Four main-bearing caps and two longitudinal stiffening rails are combined in one girdle casting that is bolted to the cylinder block.
While both MAZDA6 engines are available with a 5-speed manual transmission, the transmission itself is different for the 4-cylinder and V6 engine applications. Both manual transmissions are designed to have crisp, short-throw shifting feel and low shifting effort in true sports car style.
For the 4-cylinder, the MAZDA6 is also available with a 4-speed automatic, while the V6 is offered with a 5-speed automatic. The highly responsive, smooth shifting nature of each transmission has been optimized to fit the specific characteristics of the 2.3L 4-cylinder and 3.0L V6 engines.
Mazda engineers have raised the craftsmanship bar for the very demanding expectations of today's mid-size sedan customer, resulting in the superior quality, fit and finish of the MAZDA6.
Rigid body assembly resulted in tighter and more consistently narrow gaps between key body panels, especially between the headlights and the front bumper edge and the rear fender and bumper. This enhances the MAZDA6's exterior appearance with its precise finish. Inside, suburb craftsmanship is reflected in items such as the titanium-style finish of the instrument panel and in the smallest details such as the high-quality feel of knobs and switches.
The highest levels of quality were sought even in the effort required to open and close the doors, and the sound they make when closing. Mazda engineers conducted studies with volunteer subjects wired with electrodes to measure muscle movements required to operate the doors. Similar sensors were used to record pressure on various parts of their hands while operating the door handle. The results determined both the optimal location of the door handles as well as their shapes. In addition, psychoacoustic principals were applied to establish targets for the right sound level and quality of door closures.
Extensive measures were also employed to reduce engine noise and vibration, and provide the driver a pleasant engine note during acceleration. Suspension system bushings and mounts are used to minimize the transmission of road noise and vibration into the interior, while comprehensive wind tunnel tests resulted in a very quiet cabin with very low wind noise, even at higher vehicle speeds.
Safety and environmental care
The MAZDA6 has an extensive list of safety equipment that reflects the innovative spirit of the Mazda brand. Engineered to achieve high ratings in independent crash test programs such as NCAP in the United States, Mazda's unique high-rigidity safety body concept - called the Mazda Advanced Impact-energy Distribution and Absorption System - ensures all-direction collision safety performance.
Supplemental restraint system (SRS) air bags include the latest dual-stage type for the driver and front passenger to give extra protection in frontal collisions by controlling air bag deployment in two stages, according to the type and severity of impact. The front air bags are part of a system of up to six air bags available in the new MAZDA6.
New side inflatable curtain air bags, available as an option, increase the head protection of front- and rear-seat occupants in the event of a side impact. The new curtain air bags deploy from the outboard edge of the headliner to cover the side windows from the A- to the C-pillar. Side air bags provide torso protection for front-seat occupants and deploy from the outboard edge of the front seatbacks for thorax protection.
The MAZDA6 also has front seatbelts with pretensioners, load-limiting retractors and three-point seatbelts for all occupants. In addition, ISOFIX child-seat anchor bars are fitted at the left- and right-hand sides of the rear seat. Other safety features throughout the interior include a new anti-whiplash seatback design, and a crashable pedal design to reduce foot, ankle and lower leg injuries to the driver caused by pedal intrusion in a collision.
To help the driver avoid hazardous situations, the MAZDA6 features extensive active-safety measures such as superior braking performance, four-wheel ABS with EBD and electronically-controlled brake assist. In addition, a dynamic stability control (DSC) system maintains vehicle control in spins or skids by reducing engine torque and applying the brakes selectively to individual wheels as necessary.
The MAZDA6 engines achieve low fuel consumption and clean emissions for enhanced environmental protection. Material recyclability is improved through the use of a trunk floorboard made of the same polypropylene material as the carpet and a dashboard insulator with a structure that allows easy separation of the felt. Other efforts to protect the environment include eliminating harmful chromium and lead from materials used for the body panels and the fuel tank.
Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and services support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please visit media.ford.com/mazda for additional press materials and photos.
Major Specifications of MAZDA6
|Dimensions||Overall length||4,745 mm/186.8 in|
|Overall width||1,780 mm/70.1 in|
|Overall height||1,440 mm/56.7 in|
|Wheelbase||2,675 mm/105.3 in|
1,530 mm/1,530 mm; 60.2 in/60.2 in
|Seating capacity||5 persons|
|Engine||Type||NEW I4 2.3L, in-line 4-cylinder DOHC, S-VT|
|NEW V6 3.0L, DOHC S-VT|
|Transmission||Type||5MT, 4EC-AT, 5EC-AT (V6 3.0L)|
|Suspension||Type (front/rear)||High-mounted double-wishbone/E-type multi-link|
|Brakes||Type (front/rear)||Ventilated disc/solid disc|
|Tires & Wheels||Tires (front/rear)