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New Euro5 Mazda 6 due

Date: 26 July 2006

Mazda's fleet mainstay, the 6, will be replaced with a new, larger model next Autumn featuring more striking, assertive styling and a 2.2-litre diesel engine, which senior management anticipate will meet Euro5 emission standards.

Confirming the next generation of the 6, which established the brand as a serious fleet player, James Muir, president of Mazda Europe, said: "In terms of looks and refinement this car will raise the bar for Mazda in the upper medium sector."

He said the Hiroshima-based company had benchmarked Volkswagen's Passat for "packaging plus interior and exterior quality". The existing 6 registered a 65% fleet mix during the first six months of this year.

Although not as large as the Passat the new 6 is "generally bigger" than the current car and designers have concentrated on enhancing the fit, finish and standard of the interior materials.

While Muir did not expect the "brand new" diesel to feature in the initial line-up he said it would help bring down the company's "conspicuously high average CO2 level, the legacy of strong sports car sales," which account for 30% of Mazda's volume.

Muir wouldn't be drawn on the 6's design, but a company insider said: "It's pretty stunning with an almost Peugeot look, moulded and swoopy with flowing lines."

Mazda plans to unveil the car at the Frankfurt motor show in September next year and is hoping to qualify for the 2007 Car of the Year competition by selling 5000 units across five European countries by the end of November. Saloon, hatchback and estate car versions are planned.

The new four-cylinder diesel will also feature in the CX-7 4x4 crossover, which is due for UK sales launch in the second quarter of next year, initially with the 2.3-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol engine in 240PS form.