Steering Column 09.01.09

Twenty-six new sixes

THE RANGE of large family cars put out by Mazda is to be expanded in the new year.

It means there will be no fewer than 26 variants of the Mazda6, 11 of which will feature an all-new 2.2-litre diesel engine.

There will be five upgraded levels of equipment and we’re told the amount of safety equipment has been boosted too.

When the new range in its entirety hits the showrooms, prices will begin at under £15,000.

The new diesel engine looks interesting. It offers more power and torque than the outgoing two-litre engine, yet it’s every bit as frugal on the fuel consumption and easy on the carbon dioxide emissions. Also, despite the extra capacity, it only weighs six kilos more.

The unit will come with three power output levels – 124, 162 and 184bhp – and three torque outputs – 310, 360 and 400Nm. Mazda says it’s one of the quietest and most powerful engines in its class with a “lively yet cultivated character that will offer a truly exclusive driving experience”. Hmm. Interesting. I’ll let you know when I’ve driven it.

In its most efficient form it will take the family car over 51 miles on a gallon of diesel, and even the most powerful version has an official average consumption of over 49mpg.

Mazda says it’s trying to keep the range as simple as possible for 2009, but there are now six engines (three petrol and three diesel), three bodyshells (saloon, hatchback and estate), five specification levels (S, TS, TS2, Sport and Sports Luxury) and two gearboxes.

The cheapest Mazda6 is now a five-door hatchback with a 1.8-litre petrol engine. The most expensive is an estate with a high-power diesel engine in Sports Luxury trim. It’ll set you back £22,211.

The value of Stirling

And now for something completely different. Mercedes Benz has announced that if you want to hand over three-quarters of a million Euros, you can have Stirling Moss in your garage.

Yep, it’s brought out a top-of-the-range, farewell-to-arms version of its brutally powerful SLR super sportscar, and it’s called it the Stirling Moss. It will be the last SLR to be built. Just like the real Stirling Moss, it has nothing on top, but unlike the real Stirling Moss, it’s just mad. It’s not mad because of its spectacular performance, it’s mad because it looks like nothing else on the road today, yesterday and probably at any time in the future.

Starting with those figures though, the car has a supercharged V8 engine that uses 650hp to slingshot the car to 62mph in under 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of an insane 217mph.

It’s been named the Stirling Moss because in the 1950s he drove the fearsome SLR racing cars from victory to victory. Only 75 of them will be built, but they are likely to appeal to only a small number of people anyway … and not just because of the price.

Just looking at it shows you that driving it will be a blast – quite literally. It’s a long, sleek sportscar with more than a hint of the Silver Arrow sportscars of old. Not only does it not have a roof, it doesn’t have a windscreen as such. The air is chucked over the driver and his passenger’s heads by a couple of tiny wind deflectors.

Rollover protection is afforded by the rims of two air scoops above and behind the occupants’ heads. The doors are of swing-wing design and open upwards and forwards.

The body is all lightweight carbon fibre, the occupants are sitting just forward of the rear axle, and a huge bonnet stretches away into the far distance ahead of them. If there’s no-one in the passenger seat, there’s a flat tonneau cover that slots over the cockpit area and sits flush with the body making it look like a one-seater. And to keep the rain off an empty driver’s seat, there’s a similar cover for that side. Both fit in the boot.

I won’t be saving up for one, but if you do buy one and bring it up here, please please please take me out for a ride in it.

Mike Grundon


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