If you think sedans are losing their relevance, check out the latest Mazda 6
Mazda 6: Good looks, great gait The Mazda 6 has new features, such as a 360-degree camera system, LCD instrumentation and an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with easy functionality. ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Mazda has mastered the art of making maximum impact with minimal changes.

Its latest executive sedan, the Mazda 6, is fundamentally unchanged from the car it launched in 2013 and facelifted last year. In terms of chassis, drivetrain and performance, the 6 has remained in the same orbit for close to five years.

For instance, the latest 2.5-litre variant has 2hp and 2Nm more than last year's version, both attainable at higher revs. The increased output, however, has not translated to better performance, nor efficiency.

To say the car has nothing new to offer would be far from the truth, though.

Stylistically, the Mazda 6 - long known for being the sleekest Japanese executive choice here - has become even sleeker.

A big and bold radiator grille with Mercedes-like "diamond" mesh is flanked by sharper LED headlights which incorporate foglamps. The ensemble is joined by a prominent bow-shaped chrome relief running along the bottom side of the lights and grille.

Free from having to accommodate foglamps, the lower half of the front bumper gives way to a more sculptured surface, which again is underlined by slim chrome strips on either side.

Cosmetic changes to the rear are not as dramatic, but are no less effective in giving the car a visual lift. All it took was a sleeker execution of the tail-lamp assembly and more application of chrome.

In a classic case of less is more, the tweaks have given the Mazda 6 an updated and more elegant presence. The manufacturer has also pulled it off without making the car look like it had undergone a quick mod job.

Perhaps it is also proof of the design's longevity. If you start with a pleasing shape, all you need is a nip and tuck to stay in the game.

The car has more to offer inside. The theme of sleekness continues on the door panels, with handles cleverly blending with the chrome strips which separate the dark from the light surfaces.

The application of chrome is judicious, tasteful and succeeds in giving the interior a fresh, premium ambience.

The visual enhancement is supplemented with new features, including a 360-degree camera system, LCD instrumentation, an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with easy functionality (the navigation is a cinch compared to those in some German luxe models) and ventilated seats wrapped in nappa leather.

Unlike most ventilated seats, the ones in the Mazda 6 draw air into them, rather than blow air out. Both types are just as effective.

The new car is not all looks. On the go, it comes across as more refined, with a free-revving engine equipped with cylinder deactivation. Under light load, two of its four cylinders shut down to conserve fuel. For the test-drive, it averaged 8.4 litres/ 100km, which is respectable for a revvy 2.5-litre.

The drivetrain is so smooth that it will rival an electric car at crawling speeds. And it is almost as torquey too, ever ready to pull ahead of the pack. In fact, it feels quicker than its 8.4-second century sprint suggests.

The car comes with a slew of electronic aids, including head-up display, blindspot alert, proximity warning with brake intervention, and lane-keeping assisted steering.

The last feature is unnecessary (and can be switched off) - especially for the Mazda 6, which has long been a surefooted sedan with a rock-steady helm.

That endearing quality has not changed one bit.