Capsule Review: Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Mule

Posted on 02. Aug, 2011 by in Auto News

The Sea-to-Sky Highway in British Columbia, Canada carves a winding route of the glorious – and sometimes extravagant – City of Vancouver to the world-class ski resort Whistler. His looping curves were converted to make it a high-speed corridor for tourists and athletes during the last Winter Olympics, and as a result, it is probably one of the top five roads in this country. Mind you, it's also a popular hangout for the local constabulary.

So here I am then at the helm of a priceless prototype, sitting on the wrong side of the car next to a retired journalist, on a blind driveway of one of the most prestigious patrolling streets in Canada. What is called for here a little decency, a careful merging some light throttle application, a few smooth gearshifts and so on. Everything else would be dangerous at worst-and-best unseemly.

By a strange coincidence, "inappropriate" is my second first name. So I ground it.

But first was a bit of background knowledge about the rare animal to which I have been (somewhat irresponsible) the reins. Essentially a Mazda6 in shape, this prototype four Mazda SKYACTIV technologies: chassis, suspension, gearbox and twin-turbo diesel engine.

More later on this mill, but the important thing to note is that this is a real full-SKYACTIV vehicle. If the next-gen Mazda3 will be available later this year, the mid-level trim will be sporting SKYACTIV transmission and the new gas engine, but it will take a full year before the first vehicle – the CX-5 – comes with a full complement the new Mazda tech. In addition, it will take even longer, Americans have access to a manual transmission diesel midsize sedan that does not have a German-Mexican accent.

So the Mazda6 is very special. It's also a bit of a hack-job.

Nagare styling not range-wide work for Mazda, but the '6 was always a very nice car. Here, although it dismantled and crushed pop riveted together again, and someone painted his yellow ears. Obviously, these are not style elements that have any chance of making it in production, but they are mentioned in order. An idea of how unique to give the car It also looks great in a dystopian future-kinda way.

Dr. Frankenstein has been at work in the interior too. Visible screws. Disabled airbags. It seems a hose is wound around the steering column. The horn is a button labeled "horn" and not cancel the turn signal itself.

It's pretty much to handle for the mind: the last time I was in a car of this channel bonded together, it's a Ford Escort GT I had bought for a hundred and fifty dollars was. The car should have sucked, but strangely enough it had a Mazda BP power plant, and continue to do with the chopped coils and zero interior treatment felt it was incredibly raw and interesting.

Mazda is very likely to get angry, I compare a prototype of a hunk of the early 90s Ford flotsam, but it's important that everyone be on the same page to be here. This car does not have a fancy new touch-screen or voice-activated intelligent massage seats. This is a pin-up engineering, which is an enthusiast-minded companies shows us how to keep trying driver build cars in an increasingly technology-and efficiency-obsessed market.

Back in the driveway, the SKYACTIV mule responds with a kick like a – uh – mule. The first of the sequential turbos is a tiny hair dryer that you can spool with a sneeze. The maximum torque of 310 lb / ft results in a low 2000 revolutions per minute, but it was already in the 200s cresting at slightly more than half of the rotational speed.

But so what? Diesels have always been so low-range grunt: high-gear highway pulls sans downshifting make driving easy, but it lacks the fun factor of a gas engine. Or rather, that's usually the case.

Here, however, draws the low compression SKYACTIV-D nice trick: speed, corresponding to the shock. A 5200rpm ceiling would be ridiculous in a gasoline engine, but a diesel is excellent. There is no need for it. To ping the rev limiter, but the Mazda diesel is flexible and speeds up surprisingly quickly, and does not seem that large secondary turbo steam, to lose the very upper reaches

That and a six-speed transmission makes this car fun. Lots of fun. I look at the taped-in tachometer, when we hit the bottom of the driveway, but we were clipping along very nicely.

Beat the well-arched curves of the Sea-to-Sky at speed also shows off the '6 s suspension and steering refinements. Stiffness and weight loss are welcome, but incremental, the real progress is improving with the kind of steering feel by significantly accelerated ratio and an aggressive amount of caster for a front-driver done. It's not quite Miata (sorry: MX-5) area yet, but the DNA is there.

It was obviously a little lost in translation confusion when journos came back from driving the SKYACTIV-D mule. "I do not need to drive something different today!" Can be interpreted more than one way, and it caused consternation when they overheard by Japanese engineers Mazda.

I'll try to be clearer. This is not a real car, you can still buy, but depending on what look like the fuel numbers, it will be a great. When she brings her SKYACTIV-D technology in the North American market, Mazda has a real chance to eat lunch Volkswagen.