The next Mazda 6

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Mazda unveiled its all-new SKYACTIV-based Mazda6 at the 2012 Moscow International Automobile Salon.

The all-new Mazda mid-sizer is the second all-SKYACTIV model range to hit the streets (CX-5 was first) and the first to fully embrace Mazda's new KODO styling language. Indeed, the swoopy lines of the new sedan, leaked first last month, ape closely the Shinari concept car that introduced the new look back in 2010.

Set to arrive Down Under in the first quarter of next year in both sedan and wagon guises -- following the latter’s world debut at the Paris Motor Show next month -- the new 6 is a key model for Mazda. The medium segment is largely powered by new product and with the sector being squeezed from above by well-priced Euro prestige brands, it is vital for Mazda that the new car hits its mark.

Mazda released limited details on the new 6 at the Russian reveal – not the least of which is confirmation of the availability of a 2.5-litre version of the SKYACTIV-G petrol engine. Another key stat is the new car's aerodynamic efficiency -- Mazda says it registers a class-leading Cd of 0.26.

The new car will also feature a host of fuel-saving technologies including automatic idle-stop and Mazda's i-ELOOP brake energy regeneration system. Unlike other brands’ so-called energy recuperation systems (in fact, smart alternators), the Mazda system begins charging a capacitor the moment you lift your foot off the accelerator. This wattage can then be used to power systems throughout the car.

High-tech safety features will also be offered. These include adaptive cruise control, lane departure and blind spot warning systems, adaptive automatic high-beam headlight and autonomous anti-collision braking.

Built using Mazda's latest-generation chassis and crash structure technology, the new Mazda6 rides on a 2830mm wheelbase – a massive 105mm longer than the current car’s. Overall length is similarly increased to 4865mm, while width is 1840mm and height 1450mm.

Extra room has been gifted to the cabin, but Mazda has also sought to shorten front and rear overhangs, giving the car a more dynamic stance. Adding to the showcar's good looks and dynamic potential are 19-inch alloys, which Mazda says will be offered on high-spec production models.

The company claims cabin shoulder room is increased by around 20mm and, in the rear, there's “ample legroom” – at 984mm it’s up 37mm. Seat design changes yield an extra 43mm of rear kneeroom and the length of the rear seat cushion has been increased.

Boot capacity increases to 483 litres and Mazda says the opening has also been made larger.

The cockpit is all-new and showcases what Mazda claims is a significant step forward in workmanship and materials. Says the Mazda blurb: "New generation Mazda products are developed under the design craftsmanship concept which incorporates the designer’s aesthetic sense into a base of detailed and precise engineering."

Soft-touch materials, more coherent material and graining choices and an overall feeling of quality are said to be the hallmarks of the new approach, but we'll need to wait to see the car in the flesh before we wax lyrical.

Mechanicals will interest many. Mazda is claiming significant improvements in refinement and efficiency.

Moscow saw the company showcase its SKYACTIV-G petrol engines. The SKYACTIV-G 2.0 offers 210Nm at 4000rpm and 110kW at 6000rpm and will be familiar to local CX-5 buyers.

Likely to be the engine of choice for 6s coming Down Under is the new SKYACTIV-G 2.5. Rated at 141kW at 5700rpm and 256Nm at 3250rpm, the engine features a balance shaft to improve refinement and is offered only in conjunction with Mazda's six-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic transmission.

Details of a turbodiesel 6 – powered by the CX-5’s new 2.2-litre oil-burner - will likely be released later in the year.

Key to the new car's success, says Mazda, will be its driving characteristics. The company says its new “flagship” takes driving pleasure to "another level".

Based on a variation of the CX-5’s stiffer yet lighter new SKYACTIV chassis and featuring MacPherson struts up struts and a multi-link rear-end, the new 6 ranges in weight between 1340kg (2.0 manual) and 1410kg (2.5 auto). Hence, fuel consumption also reduces – and will be further reduced with the disel, which could return as little as 4.2L/100km – to 5.9L/100km for the 2.0-litre petrol with i-stop and 6.4L/100km for the 2.5 with i-stop and i-ELOOP.

Hiroshi Kajiyama, the new Mazda6 program manager, said: “In developing the third-generation Mazda6, we pursued Mazda’s intrinsic value, ‘driving pleasure’.

“We wanted to create a car that reacts and behaves exactly as you expect it to. Part of this involved carefully crafting those parts of the car which you often touch to feel as though they are an extension of your own body.

"Mazda’s superb engineering and craftsmanship have realised a car that handles so well it seems to respond directly to the driver’s intentions rather than the physical manipulations of steering, braking and accelerating," he stated.