THE covers came off Mazda's third generation mid-size sedan at the Moscow motor show to reveal a car that is larger in every outward dimension, but significantly lighter and at least 20% more fuel efficient than the model it replaces.
However, the all-new Mazda6 makes do with a smaller engine and less power for the entry-level model.
The new Mazda6 is the Japanese manufacturer's second model - behind the Mazda CX-5 compact off-roader - to utilise the full "SkyActiv" suite, which include more efficient new engines and transmissions and a lightweight body to minimise fuel use.
Some models will feature a brake energy regeneration system that Mazda claims is a world first, using a capacitor to begin storing energy the moment the driver takes their foot off the accelerator.
The stored energy is used to power the car's electrical components, easing the load on the engine.
One missing link is the hatch variant that has been especially popular with Australian buyers, with the sedan version unveiled in Moscow to be joined by a wagon likely to be revealed at the 2012 Paris motor show.
Another potential drawback for performance-minded local buyers searching for the company's trademark "zoom-zoom" is a drop in power and torque for the base model, which trades a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine for a 2.0-litre unit making 110 kilowatts and 210 Newton metres (15kW and 16Nm fewer than the previous model).
Mazda Australia is yet to announce whether it will also offer the new 2.5-litre engine that will be available on the Russian model, which outputs a healthier 141kW and 256Nm.
The new Mazda6 is expected to weigh about 130kg less than its predecessor at 1340kg for the manual model (auto: 1370kg), helping to inspire fuel savings in the order of 20-30%, depending on the engine and transmission.
A model equipped with the 2.0-litre petrol engine fitted with a six-speed auto and Mazda's i-Stop engine stop-start system will use 5.9L/100km on the European fuel cycle, while the current Australian-spec auto-equipped '6 sedan uses a locally-judged 8.7L/100km.
Mazda Australia will dial down the compression ratio on local engines to enable them to drink cheaper regular unleaded fuel.
A 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine - the same one used in the CX-5 compact SUV - will be offered in Australian cars that could generate fuel use figures to match or better the class-leading Toyota Camry Hybrid (5.2L/100km).
At 4865mm long, the new Mazda6 is 130mm longer than the previous model, and just 29mm shorter than a Holden Commodore.
It is also 45mm wider than the previous '6, 10mm taller and the wheelbase (distance between the front and rear wheels) is 105mm longer.
The '6 is expected to be shown in Australia for the first time at the Australian motor show in Sydney in mid-October, and will go on sale in the first quarter of 2013.
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