Mazda’s 6 has always been one of the best looking executive cars. With flowing, muscular looks it’s evocative of the Ford Mustang and makes its opposition appear slightly pedestrian.
It comes in a saloon or estate format, both of which are handsome, spacious and surprisingly luxurious.
Mazda has made numerous tweaks and changes to the 6 over the years. Most recently it has ditched diesel power. The 6 is now available with petrol engines only. Buyers have the choice of a 2.0 litre with either 143 or 163bhp or the flagship 192bhp 2.5 litre model I spent a week with.
Prices start at just over £24,000 and the GT Sport Auto version I drove cost £32,370. That makes it slightly cheaper than rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Kia Optima.
I recently drove Mazda’s biggest SUV, the CX-5 with the same 2.5 litre engine. Though it coped fine in a heavier, taller vehicle it wasn’t as capable as a good diesel unit.
The engine fares much better in the saloon where a lower centre of gravity and lighter weight suit it much better. It pushes the car forward nicely and if you need extra speed it’s there – 0-62mph takes just 8.1 seconds.
The six speed auto gearbox doesn’t make changes as smoothly as the seven, eight and nine-speed autos offered by more premium marques such as Audi, BMW and Jaguar, but it goes about its work capably enough. You can change gears manually using paddle shifters should you wish to.
Excellent ride and handling
The Mazda 6 is a fine riding, sharp handling car that’s equally at home on the motorway or a twisting B-road. I was all over Fife in it and up to Blairgowrie and beyond. It cruises quietly at 70mph on a dual carriageway but handles well enough to make a favourite backroad an enjoyable experience. A low centre of gravity and sharp steering make it a dynamic car that handles as well or better than any of its rivals bar the outstanding BMW 3 Series.
Ride quality is excellent and it will soak up bumps and potholes without complaint.
The petrol unit can’t match the economy of a diesel but it’s surprisingly efficient and will return around 39mpg if driven with a light foot and petrol’s cheaper than diesel so there shouldn’t be much difference in the grand scheme of things.
Inside, there’s a large display screen that’s controlled by a central rotary dial. This is intuitive and easy for the driver to use without taking their eyes off the road. It’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto making it easy to link up your smartphone.
My high spec car came with leather seats, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Those latter two didn’t get used at this time of year but will come into their own during the winter months. The seats are impressively comfortable and make long journeys much more bearable. Add up the comfy seats, the cosseting ride and the quiet cabin and you have an excellent mile muncher.
There’s enough room in the back for adults and the boot is a capacious 480 litres. The rear seats split 60/40 – drop them both and you’ve well over 1600 litres of cargo space, though the saloon opening limits the size of items you can get in there.
For those who need a load lugger, the Mazda 6 estate offers 522 litres with a much larger tailgate.
Mazda frequently comes at or near the top of car reliability surveys and the 6 feels like it’s built to cover huge miles without any complaints.
Saloon cars are very much out of fashion at the moment, driven to the margins by the craze for SUVs.
That’s something of a pity. Buyers are missing out on a fantastic all rounder in the Mazda 6.
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Top speed: 142mph
CO2 emissions: 167 g/km