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May 12, 2012 (8:23pm)
2009 MAZDA6: THE EVOLUTION OF ZOOM-ZOOM
May 12, 2012
The original MAZDA6, introduced for the 2003 model year, made Zoom-Zoom the two most evocative words in the automotive lexicon. This sport sedan was the first Mazda vehicle to benefit from the spirit of a true sports car infused in a five-passenger, 4-door sedan. Lessons learned from the first MAZDA6 and Mazda's newer vehicles-especially the Mazda CX-7 and award-winning CX-9-encouraged a clean-sheet approach to building the best mid-size sport sedan the US market has ever experienced. Most important, though, this is the first Mazda vehicle designed, engineered, developed, and manufactured on U..S. soil with the intention of surpassing American customer needs in countless categories.
Compared to the original MAZDA6, the new edition rides on a 4.5-inch longer wheelbase (109.8-in) with wider front and rear track. This larger package not only facilitates increases in every significant interior measurement, it moves the MAZDA6 from the bottom to the top of the mid-size class as defined by SAE and EPA volume measures.
The new powertrains rise to the task of moving the new MAZDA6 with authority. The MAZDA6 i's new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has 170-horsepower while the new MAZDA6 s's 3.7-liter V6 produces a rousing 272 horsepower. Along with output gains ranging from nine to 28 percent, fuel economy also is better.
Program Engineer Hiroshi Kajiyama established ambitious goals and high standards in the development of the new MAZDA6. To be widely recognized as the best vehicle available in the mid-size market, the MAZDA6's underlying concept rests solidly on three fundamental pillars:
- A sporty appearance integrated with a highly dynamic character
- A unique experience
- An insightful package
"The next generation 2009 MAZDA6, with its new platform, V6 and I4 engines, suspension, interior and exterior design, and long list of standard and available convenience features is the most sophisticated, purpose-built machine that Mazda has launched in over a decade," Robert Davis, senior vice president, product development and quality, MNAO. "Armed with evolved Zoom-Zoom, the new MAZDA6 is ready to demonstrate its strengths and assume a leadership role in the thriving mid-size segment."
A SPORT SEDAN THAT IS "TIME TO BE JAPANESE"
When the MAZDA6 design effort commenced in the spring of 2004, Chief Designer Youichi Sato summed up the opportunity represented by a new sport sedan with world-wide reach as "Time to be Japanese." Sato challenged all of his designers working on the new MAZDA6 in four studios under his leadership (Hiroshima, Yokohama, Frankfurt, Irvine) to create a wholly fresh, upscale, premium - yet still sporty - appearance for the North American MAZDA6. Before the sketching began, the fundamental mission was defined by three key guidelines:
- Evolve the Zoom-Zoom spirit to the next level.
- Infuse the new MAZDA6 with a dignified sports appearance.
- Ensure that the design reflects Japanese culture, aesthetics, and spirit.
The bold exterior design of the MAZDA6 features a front fender reminiscent of the one found on today's RX-8. Sculpture that flows from the front fascia, through the headlamp, over the top of the front-wheel opening, and into the side surface ahead of the front door achieves two aims: it accents the importance of wheels to the MAZDA6's athletic character and it visually trims the length of the front overhang.
The graceful S-curve that flows smoothly from the highest point of the roof to the subtle lip at the very end of the decklid's top surface and the rear glass that melts into the decklid give the MAZDA6 an exceptionally sleek appearance from any angle.
The harmony of sharp edges with richly curved surfaces adds to the MAZDA6's visual value. Powerful wheel arches, attached like wings to an airplane's fuselage, create an athletic stance and instill a dynamic character. Large areas of both doors are perfectly smooth and taut to exhibit blank-space beauty. Fine attention to detail is clearly evident in the taillights' intricate LED components. All lights nestle jewel-like within their surrounding surfaces.
BOLD AND EXQUISITE INTERIOR
While a few distinctive Mazda interior design elements, such as round instruments and a three-spoke steering wheel accompanied by a T-shaped instrument panel, were a given from the start of this design project, new priorities called for an otherwise fresh approach. The quality of execution had to be the highest Mazda had ever achieved in any US production. Surface textures, gloss levels, parting lines, and decorative areas all received careful attention. The interior needed an expansive feeling without losing its focus on fun for the driver combined with comfort and safety for all passengers. To achieve that, a bi-level theme was adopted: a roomy bottom zone with solid and safe upper areas.
Blacked-out instrument faces with brighter metallic markings, needles, and trim gives the MAZDA6 interior an exquisitely detailed look. Seats are highly refined with soft-look volumes combined with comfortable cushions and highly effective side bolsters. Attractively curved surfaces blend the console into the instrument panel.
Sculpted shapes combined with metallic-looking control panel areas achieve the desired contrast between dignity and celestial beauty. Crisp edges abut gently curved soft surfaces. Unique patterns and textures give the MAZDA6's interior a fresh, original appearance. Use of black trim provides a rich, sporty look that's unprecedented in the mid-size segment. Brightly finished switches in the steering wheel and center stack area mark the interior as a premium execution. High-mounted entertainment system and climate controls enhance functionality.
The entry-level interior benefits from brightly plated metal accents and a choice of black, beige, or gray cloth upholstery with a contemporary weave pattern. Available Touring-level trim blends cloth with leather upholstery and adds a leather steering wheel cover. The Grand Touring interior uses leather only for upholstery material in a choice of black, beige, or gray tones.
PERFORMANCE THAT WILL MAKE YOU SMILE
Mazda's reputation for providing world-class powertrains - both engines and transmissions - is deeply rooted. Quick throttle response, strong acceleration, and outstanding flexibility are core to Mazda's spirit. Guaranteeing that MAZDA6 customers enjoy the class-leading performance they expect, two engine choices are offered on the new sedan.
A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is available and heads the mid-size class with 170 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Its peak torque of 167 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm tops nearly all competitors' engines. EPA fuel economy is 21 city / 30 hwy on automatic and 20 city / 29 hwy on manual transmission.
Bore and stroke increases over previous applications yield a piston displacement enlarged to 2.5-liters (2489cc). Advanced features include chain-driven dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, counter-rotating balance shafts located in the oil pan, and aluminum block and head construction to save weight. The crankshaft is forged steel for utmost durability. Forged powder-metal connecting rods minimize reciprocating weight.
Variable intake valve timing yields a smooth idle, low emissions, and excellent high-rpm power. An injection-molded, nylon-reinforced-plastic intake manifold provides smooth internal passages with minimal weight. Fuel is delivered to the intake ports by an electronically controlled sequential injection system. Ignition coils are modular units positioned directly above the spark plugs. Shimless bucket tappets require no maintenance. Light-weight pistons are coated with a special anti-friction compound and fitted with low-tension rings for improved gas mileage.
Several features designed especially for maximum power in the new MAZDA6 i application include a new cylinder head with improved intake and exhaust flow, a low-restriction exhaust manifold, and a two-mode intake manifold with a center entry and an electronically-controlled throttle body.
To minimize noise and vibration, the damper at the forward end of the crankshaft is equipped with two tuned masses. At the output end, a new flexible flywheel also diminishes NVH. The deep-skirt block is engineered for extra stiffness and main-bearing caps are integral with a lower-block ladder-type reinforcement.
3.7-LITER MZI V6:
Mazda introduced an all-new 60-degree 3.7-liter V6 engine, designated MZI, in the 2008 North American Truck of the Year-winning CX-9, and that engine is now fitted to the 2009 MAZDA6.
With a stirring 272 horsepower available at 6,250 rpm and 269 lb-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm, the MZI V6 tops all mid-size competitors. Mazda engineering tests show that it's also quieter than its competitors at full throttle. EPA fuel economy is 17 city / 25 hwy on automatic transmission.
The list of advanced features includes light and stiff aluminum construction for the block and cylinder heads, a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened journals, and variable intake-valve timing. Dual overhead camshafts are chain-driven and equipped with maintenance-free direct-acting bucket tappets.
Cast-in iron cylinder liners provide a dependable bore surface. The intake manifold is injection-molded nylon-reinforced plastic to save weight. Two close-coupled catalytic converters minimize the time required following a cold start for the emission controls to reach full effectiveness. A dual exhaust system provides low restriction for excellent high-rpm power.
To achieve best-in-class smoothness and quietness, the MAZDA6 s's 3.7-liter V6's crankshaft has a full complement of counter-weights and a dual-mass damper. The aluminum cylinder-head covers are rubber isolated to minimize the amount of radiated valvetrain noise.
MANUAL AND AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS:
To maximize control and driver involvement, the MAZDA6 i comes standard with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission capable of exploiting all the performance provided by the 2.5-liter MZR engine. MAZDA6 i customers who prefer an automatic transmission with a manual shift mode can opt for an electronically-controlled five-speed automatic with overdrive ratios for the top two gears.
A new six-speed automatic with manual shift mode is standard in the MAZDA6 s.
One Zoom-Zoom feature inherited directly from the Mazda RX-8 sports car is called Active Adaptive Shift (AAS) control. AAS senses winding road conditions and provides a gear ratio (usually third) with optimum acceleration response exiting a corner. Decelerating into a bend, AAS quickens down-shift speed to provide maximum engine braking. During passing maneuvers following a merge into traffic, AAS holds lower gears longer to maximize acceleration.
PRECISION CRAFTMANSHIP A HIGH PRIORITY
Providing customers with a vehicle that's utterly dependable, perfectly designed and manufactured, and pleasing to a broad spectrum of customers is every company's dream. Achieving these lofty goals requires a deep commitment and the willingness to sweat innumerable details. Elevating the MAZDA6's quality so that it becomes the mid-size segment's shining star was a monumental undertaking.
More than 50 pre-production MAZDA6s were driven around the clock for more than 800,000 miles each in early 2008. Before leaving the AutoAlliance International (AAI) plant, every production MAZDA6 is run on a chassis dynamometer to check shift quality, electrical performance, and other functions.
Sixteen cars per day are driven a few miles on an AAI track to test the steering for accuracy, drift, and pull with a torque meter. Major revisions to the front suspension and a re-calibrated damper valve in the power steering gear are the primary changes that helped achieve vastly improved straight-ahead tracking over a wide variety of road surfaces. To verify that wind and road noise are lower than a specific limit, an Aachen Head audio recorder is belted into the vehicles for inspections. While the past inspection process was strictly visual checks, there are more hands-on and dynamic checks for the new MAZDA6 than ever before.
Painting each car is a 34-step process that begins with electrically-charged primers and continues with sealers, base and color coats, clear coats, and a trip through a 340-degree bake oven.
The MAZDA6's heavily contoured front fender design posed a major manufacturing challenge. The depth of the draw (how far the metal must be stretched) is well beyond standard limits. To fulfill the designers' wishes without compromise, engineers divided the process into three steps using three stages of stamping dies.
To minimize wind noise while improving fuel economy, ambitious aerodynamic targets were set early in the MAZDA6's developmental process. A large panel under the powertrain, plus air deflectors near the front tires, and two covers in the rear floor area, smooth under-car air flow. Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analysis helped eliminate noise-causing turbulence observed in the outside rear-view mirror mounting areas.
Wind-tunnel tests reported a final drag coefficient of 0.27, a 10-percent improvement over the original MAZDA6, and a number lower than a Porsche 911. Very low lift at high speeds and in cross winds improves both directional stability and driver confidence.
SAFETY IS TOP OF MIND
Tremendous strides have been made in avoiding accidents with contemporary safety features such as ABS and DSC. To safeguard occupants when a collision cannot be avoided, the new MAZDA6 has been engineered with energy absorbing and intrusion resistant zones in its body structure.
Double load paths along both sides at the front of the vehicle help absorb head-on collision energy. The integrity of the cabin area is bolstered by a substantial dash-support crossmember braced by two driveline tunnel reinforcements.
A special stopper device keeps the brake pedal from moving rearward and into the driver's survival space in the event the engine and transmission are dislocated during an accident. The fuel tank is mounted ahead of the rear suspension and surrounded by high-strength-steel side rails and two crossmembers capable of resisting crush and leakage in the event of a high-speed or offset rear impact.
A special triple-H structure consisting of roof rails, door pillars, sill structures, and floor crossmembers does an excellent job of resisting side-impact intrusion. Front doors have dual reinforcement beams and energy-absorbing material built into their trim panels.
All MAZDA6s are equipped with six air bags. The side-curtain bags cover all the front and rear door glass to minimize the chance of injury. Standard dual-chamber bags built into the front seats are optimized for both chest and hip protection. Front seat belts are engineered to automatically take up slack when the air bags are triggered and to pay out slightly to lessen chest loads as the occupant moves forward.
To guard against under-riding high-mounted SUV bumpers, the MAZDA6's front bumper beam's height has been increased by 0.79 inch. In order to minimize fender-bender repair costs, the scope of damage caused by a low-velocity collision has been greatly reduced in the new MAZDA6. Additionally, more substantial latches and a more robust rear seatback structure do a better job of resisting cabin intrusion resulting from trunk cargo shifting forward during a frontal impact.
EQUIPMENT FEATURES AND OPTIONS
The new MAZDA6 sport sedan builds on its predecessor's success with two models - the MAZDA6 i powered by a 2.5-liter I-4 and the MAZDA6 s powered by a 3.7-liter V6. Both feature an expanded range of trim levels, options, and equipment packages to serve the full breadth of the mid-size segment. This is the most comprehensive nameplate Mazda has ever offered North American customers.
The MAZDA6 comes with standard features such as air conditioning with a pollen filter, power door locks and windows, a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, height-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and two 12-volt power outlets.
The first step up, MAZDA6 Sport, adds an auxiliary audio input jack for connecting portable audio material, cruise control with steering-wheel-mounted controls, and remote keyless entry with front window open and close. MAZDA6 s Sport adds 215/55VR-17 all-season radials mounted on 17 x 7-inch alloy wheels, brightly finished dual-exhaust outlets, and a V-6 badge on the decklid.
Building on the Sport equipment, the MAZDA6 Touring trim adds fog lights and 7.0 x 17-inch cast aluminum wheels fitted with larger 215/55VR-17 all-season tires (MAZDA6 i) and 235/45WR-18 tires with 8.0x18-inch alloy wheels (MAZDA6 s). Inside, there are electroluminescent gauges, leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob, push-button engine starting, a trip computer and sliding center console armrest. The driver's seat is upgraded with an eight-way power adjuster. Touring models are also equipped with an Advanced Keyless Entry system and an anti-theft alarm.
MAZDA6 i Grand Touring trim adds an interesting array of advanced lighting equipment: Xenon headlights with automatic on/off control, LED taillights, and auto-dimming outside mirrors that illuminate the ground for nighttime ease of entry. Rain-sensing windshield wipers and Mazda's advanced blind-spot monitoring system are both included with Grand Touring trim. Inside, upgrades include automatic dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power adjuster for the front passenger, and memory adjustment for the driver's seat, auto-dimming inside mirror, Homelink remote controls, and Bluetooth connection capability for cell phone and audio use.
Combining the moonroof with SIRIUS satellite radio, a BOSE® audio system, and a 6-CD changer with MP3 capability is possible with Touring and Grand Touring trim. A special Convenience package for Touring models includes dual-zone automatic air conditioning, Bluetooth phone and audio capability, Xenon headlights with automatic on/off control, two-part cloth and leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, blind spot monitoring system, and the ground-illuminating outside mirrors.
All 2009 Mazdas come with a roadside assistance program. With a call to a toll-free number, owners can access roadside assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, a comprehensive three-year/36,000-mile warranty covers every part on the vehicle except those subject to normal wear. Also, all 2009 models receive a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion warranty.
Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: For more information on Mazda vehicles, visit the online Mazda media center at www.mazdausamedia.com.