Australia’s Best Cars works on the principle that you can’t compare vehicles in different classes, because consumers’ needs vary widely. What appeals, say, to the buyer of a family-sized SUV isn’t relevant to someone wanting a small inner-city runabout.
But what the ABC judges do notice is when an individual vehicle brings more than any other to its market segment in the way of innovation, safety and function, and they select one category winner to be the Judges’ Choice for the year.
And this year no vehicle has had more influence on its market segment than our Best Medium Car Under $50,000, the Mazda6 Touring.
Mazda upgraded its ‘6’ range in September 2016, improving the vehicle in a lot of small ways which, as one judge said, “made a good car better”.
The most significant upgrades were to safety, where the upper detection speed range of the car’s autonomous emergency braking system has been increased from 30km/h to 80km/h, and it now includes pedestrian recognition. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert features are also on all models in the Mazda6 range, and on the convenience side satellite navigation is now included in a very generous standard features list.
Mazda6 also became the first car to feature what Mazda calls a world-first: G-Vectoring Control. This adjusts engine torque in response to steering inputs in order to give smoother response, reducing the need for steering corrections.
The judges were also particularly taken with the quality of Mazda6’s build and finish. “It really sets a benchmark for build quality and attention to detail,” said one judge.
Overall, the judges thought the greatest factor in making Mazda6 their choice was how everything seems to have been designed “from the driver’s perspective”. One judge commented: “It provides exceptional driver connection to the vehicle.”
With the surge of new SUVs on the market, the medium car segment faces an uncertain future, and the judges determined that Mazda6, in a category that already has some very good cars, could well be its saviour.