In terms of stylish, mid priced saloons, Mazda’s face-lifted 6 is an attractive proposition worth serious consideration. Starting at around the mid £15,000 mark rising to just under £23,000 there’s an affordable model and spec for most, with the mid priced diesel especially representing good value for money in terms of performance, frugality, reliability, refinement and emissions. We had the 180bhp 2.2D Sport Hatchback (top engine and top spec!) for a week on test, which was pretty much the standard car with no real cost optional extras, not that we wanted for anything. As far as spec, Mazda are still sticking to their guns that more is more, not less is more and I’m thankful for that. Its nice for a change to know that pretty much everything we’ve got on our press car you’d have on the car you’d be buying, without having to sell one of your kidneys to pay for the optional extras we had.
So what’s new on the facelift? A new nose and tail give the new 6 a much more sporting and purposeful air than its predecessor. Sleek and substantial it’s a refreshing alternative to the plethora of formulaic bland saloons on the market. Granted its still a reps car list staple, but if you’re going to complain that 70% of the car sales of the model you’ve just brought are being used by travelling pirates salesmen, to clock up 40,000 miles a year, you need your head read! Nothing is a better testament of a cars reliability than if its been adopted by the clean shaven white collar wearing ‘I could have been a racing driver’ road warriors. They need a car that will keep them comfortable for thousands of miles a year without being stood on the hard shoulder awaiting for the AA to get them back on the road. They also demand high spec and something with some style. So if company fleet managers think it’s a safe bet, it’s a good place to spend your 20k. You’re not compromising on space either as there’s plenty of room in the front and 20mm more legroom in the rear than the old model. Plus the 519-litre boot is more than adequate for most family or business needs.
The cabin is attractive and neatly presented, I love the well laid out centre console with its ‘everything where it should be’ easy to navigate buttons and switches and its thankfully bereft of the flappy plastics some Mazda models were filled with in the past. The materials used are of a much better quality, feel durable and would not be out of place in models costing substantially more.
Well equipped even at entry level, even the S features air con, remote central locking, CD/radio with Aux for MP3 players and 16-inch alloys. Head up the spec grades to our favourite and the model we tested for the week; The Mazda6 2.2D Sport (yep it’s a diesel!), with its body kit of front and rear sports bumpers, rear spoiler and side skirts, and you’ll find keyless entry and button operated start/stop, on to Sports Luxury for leather seats, electric sunroof and parking sensors. Due to it being a the top of the range 180bhp 2.2D engine ‘Sport’ our test car had a real ‘racy’ feel about it, performance was great with 0-60mph taking just 8.7 seconds, although feeling and sounding drastically quicker. The ride quality and handling continued the racing feeling with the 6 being well balanced, agile and involving, it’s a thoroughly competent cruiser, and tidy drive on the tight and twisting bends. The steering is well weighted, there’s little evidence of body roll and understeer and it seems to relish being given some serious welly.
Safety wise, it has a 5 Star overall EuroNCAP rating and all models feature traction control, anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist and electronic breakforce distribution and also dynamic stability control. Driver, front passenger, front side and full-length curtain airbags are also included.
There’s a choice of capable, punchy petrol and torquey diesel engines, the 2-0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesels considered the best options in terms of price and performance without compromising overly on economy. Our test car was returning great fuel economy and Mazda’s official combined fuel figure of 52mpg, isn’t the typical ‘finger in the air’ job, its actually fairly accurate.
Our test car was loaded with kit including; keyless entry, Bi-Xenon’s, 6 stack in-dash CD player with MP3 and iPod compatible arse kicking BOSE sound system, half leather seats, heated seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, privacy glass and 18” alloys all as standard.
I really like the Mazda 6, especially with the 180bhp 2.2 diesel engine, its frugal, sporty, not your average run of the mill rep wagon, it’s the perfect car for anyone who needs space, but desires pace and a seriously fun to drive motor.