The Road Ahead : October 2013
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 48 MOTORING | ROAD TEST THE ROAD AHEAD OCT/NOV 2013 to a six-speed automatic, gave nothing away in terms of performance. In its favour is the lightest kerb weight of all four -- 1514kg, some 12kg, 113kg and 128kg less than Mazda6, Superb and Mondeo respectively. On steeper sections of the drive loop, when asked to overtake, the i40's power plant worked hard, but never became coarse or overly noisy. But its higher work rate was reflected at the bowser. At 8.5 litres/100km -- 2.5 litres/100km above its ADR combined cycle figure -- the i40 proved the thirstiest on test. CO² emissions are 159 g/km. On-road, it has a sure-footed feel, although on rougher sections of road there's noticeable harshness and thump over potholes, and Hyundai's electric power steering is the least communicative of the bunch -- dull and lifeless off centre at lower speeds. MAZDA6 ATENZA SKYACTIV Launched late last year, the new Mazda6 is arguably the most stylish 6 wagon yet. Underpinning the design is Mazda's SKYACTIV technology, which increases fuel efficiency and engine output. Fractionally smaller in headroom and rear-seat legroom than the Skoda, the cabin is on par with Mondeo and i40. There's a greater sense of space in the front of the cabin, with the centre console sitting more vertically where it meets the dashboard, making the area feel more open. Our test car's interior was finished in cream leather, causing some debate about how it would fare against the rigours of everyday use. In the rear, Mazda6 has two remote second- row seat latches, so you don't have to lean in to fold the seats, which flatten to give 1.8-metres of cargo length. Mazda's SKYACTIV 2.5-litre petrol engine, developing 138kW of power and 250Nm of torque, performed as well as the diesels in our test, and you don't have to wring its neck to get the best out of it. Matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, this engine impresses with a quick reaction time when downshifting. You wouldn't expect it to come anywhere near the diesels' fuel consumption figures, so we were pleasantly surprised when the 6 returned 8.8 litres/100km, just 0.3 behind the i40. That's 2.2 above its ADR combined cycle figure. CO² emission is 155 g/km. And it should be noted that the SKYACTIV unit doesn't need 95 or 98 RON premium unleaded, and will run happily on cheaper 91 RON unleaded. The Mazda 6 provoked a mixed reaction when it came to ride quality, with its confident, sports-like handling on low-profile 19-inch tyres, tempered by over firmness. Other models in the range have different tyre and rim packages, which would provide a more complaint ride. SKODA SUPERB 125TDi ELEGANCE The Superb lives up to its name, highlighting sensible, practical design and marrying those attributes to an excellent diesel mechanical package. Settle into the supportive seats and the cabin is as spacious as you get in this class, more so in the second row, where the Superb aces the others in legroom. In the cargo area, the Skoda's adjustable rail-mounted securing system is a bonus, on top of the conventional 'D'-shaped cargo hooks. The dash design is refined with large easy-to-read instruments. With its lower waistline, Superb also provides excellent all-round vision -- something the more stylish entrants in our test fail to deliver. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine develops 125kW of power and 350Nm of torque, dispelling the myth that you need six-cylinders up front. The Volkswagen-sourced engine provides effortless cruising and is perfectly matched to the six-speed DSG transmission. Out on the open road, there is more than enough grunt for overtaking. Superb was also the most frugal, returning 7.7 litres/100km over diverse test conditions, which put it closer to its ADR combined cycle figure of 6.5 litres/100km. However, the CO² emissions figure of 171 g/km is the highest of our foursome. Dynamically, Superb rates highly and, riding on 17-inch tyres, offers a near-perfect blend of handling and ride comfort. IMAGES: HYUNDAI i40 CRDi PREMIUM (LEFT), MAZDA6 ATENZA SKYACTIV.