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Mazda6 Review and Test Drive

Over recent years, sales of saloon cars have dropped as SUV and hatch based derivatives have become the more de facto choice, especially as family transport, due to their additional versatility. However despite this, there is still plenty of competition in this segment, especially from the German marques, so how does this, the latest generation of Mazda 6 saloon fair?

First impressions are good. Designed using what Mazda refers to as their KODO: Soul of Motion design philosophy, it’s a sharp looking car. Whilst saloon cars generally don’t tend to be that adventurous on the design front, it has enough detail to ensure it catches your eye and it looks very much a quality item.

The new 6 is larger, lighter and more economical than its predecessor. Available in four trim levels (SE, SE Nav, SE-L Nav & Sport Nav), it offers decent equipment levels. Engine options include two 2.2 litre diesels (with 150 or 175 ps), and two 2.0 litre petrol’s (145 ps and 165 ps), all of which are four pots. ‘Our’ Sport Nav model has the lower powered diesel engine, which is likely to be the big seller, promising 68.9 mpg on the combined cycle.

I’m quite a fan of Mazda’s current interiors and the 6 reinforces that. An uncluttered, simple design, with low button count, a decent intuitive infotainment system, and for a car that sits below the premium brands, use of some decent materials.

Fortunately, when it comes to standard kit, Mazda hasn’t followed the business model of the German competition, where often equipment that you’d expect to find is relegated to an extensive options list. On this (admittedly top of the range) model, head up display, heated leather seats, Nav, Bose entertainment (inc DAB), Bluetooth, parking sensors (front & rear), reversing camera, adaptive LED headlights, cruise control, dual zone climate, keyless entry/start, tyre pressure monitoring, stability and traction control systems, are all fitted as standard.

The infotainment system is the same as other Mazda’s we’ve had on test recently (see Mazda 3 review here…), with a 7-inch touchscreen, that can also be operated via the rotary dial near the gearlever. It’s intuitive and easy to navigate without having to take your eyes off the road. While not the last word in cutting-edge design, the interior has a solid, simple, quality feel about it. There’s plenty of room front & rear, although headroom in the back is a wee bit compromised for taller folk this is only an issue if you’re over 6 ft. Practicality wise, being a saloon it’s obviously not going to be as versatile as a hatch or estate, but with a boot capacity of 483 litres plus a 60/40 split rear seat, it’s pretty flexible.

Every 6 features Mazda’s SKYACTIV Vehicle Dynamics. On first glance, it’s not entirely obvious as to what this actually is! Further investigation reveals it to be a collection of technologies and design principles focusing on delivering an increased driving response by optimising the engine, transmission and chassis, whilst reducing weight. In addition, the G-Vectoring Control system is designed to optimise the corning and ride comfort. Whether these systems make a huge difference I’m not sure, and they don’t magically endow the 6 with sports car like handling (ultimately it’s still a big diesel saloon). However, you can tell driving dynamics have been given a degree of priority. Suspension is MacPherson struts up front and multi-link at the rear and combined with a slick, six-speed manual gearbox, it’s an enjoyable car to drive.

Performance from the 150 PS 2.2 litre diesel falls into the ‘quick enough’ category, rather than outstanding, but it does the job, combining mph & mpg, with decent refinement levels. Economy is also reasonable but as is often the case, you’ll struggle to match the official combined figure (68.9 mpg), with high 40’s to low 50’s more realistic in the real world. Emission levels are also impressive at just 107 g/km.

Whilst the Mazda probably won’t set your pulse racing, nor does it excel over its competitors in many areas, the 6’s all-round ability makes it a solid contender which is worthy of consideration.

Mazda 6 Sport Nav

PRICE: £26,795
ENGINE: 2.2 litre, 4 cylinder diesel, 6 speed automatic
POWER: 150 ps
TORQUE: 380 Nm @ 1800-2600 rpm
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 130 mph, 0-62 mph 9.1 secs
CONSUMPTION: 68.9 mpg (combined)
CO2: 107 g/km

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