Mazda 6 road test
The updated Mazda 6 is classy and very comfortable.
James Luckhurst renewed his acquaintance with an executive favourite
WE WERE pleased to be part of the launch of the Mazda 6 a few years ago, so it was exciting to be invited to the model’s facelift event at the end of July. The circumstances could not have been more different. The original launch was in Scotland, early one January. Snow threatened to cancel the event but we did manage to do it and to get some good driving in. This time the ground was parched, the air was warm and the sun burned down as we put the refreshed Mazda 6 through its paces on a varied test route around the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean.
The updated Mazda 6 is a large comfortable saloon (and tourer). Its attractive ‘soul red’ colour – the only option among the test models – has been improved and is, we were told, 20 per cent brighter and 50 per cent deeper than before. Appraising the exterior we noticed a new grille, described by Mazda as ‘more aggressive’. There are new headlights, and new bumpers at front and rear. The exhaust pipes are more spaced out to give the impression of something a little bit meaner, a little bit more tuned up. Overall a sleek and stylish look.. just not sure that the rear is as attractive as the front and sides.
All of these are fairly modest cosmetic updates; the real changes come when you climb inside and if you research the technology. New materials and gadgetry abound, and there are upgrades to the cabin design that give a real sense of quality. There are even small sections of door trim where Japanese Sen wood is used (it’s more usually employed in the manufacture of traditional Japanese furniture and musical instruments). Not sure some of the surfaces would stay clean very long if subjected to the usual activities of a busy family on the move, but first impressions are definitely positive.
Mazda is committed, for the time being at least, to the internal combustion engine, though the firm says that manufacture of its solely petrol/diesel powered cars will end some time between 2030 and 2035. No surprise that it’s committed to making its engines as efficient as possible for the time being. For example, the ‘cylinder deactivation system’ on the Mazda 6 allows the engine to swap between two- and four-cylinder operation; the idea being that economy is boosted but not at the expense of performance.
As far as safety is concerned, the SE-L LUX Nav+ trim models and above feature a reversing camera. A Safety Pack (an £800 optional extra on Sport Nav+ versions and standard on GT Sport Nav+) adds a 360 degree camera, Adaptive LED headlights, Rear Smart City Brake Support and Driver Attention Alert. ISOFIX child anchors are standard across all models; as is auto drive-away door locking.
We had the opportunity to try out two different models. The 2.0-litre 165PS Sport Nav+ saloon (£27,795) boasts economy of 44.1mpg, with a 0 to 62mph time of 9.4 seconds. Measures to improve ride comfort include an increase in the diameter of the front damper cylinders from 32mm to 35mm, and a change in the valve structure of the front and rear dampers.
The ride was firm, while road noise was seldom a problem, but there was little to get excited about in terms of the driving experience. We felt the gearing was set a bit too high. Making our way up a hill that was not particularly steep, we were disappointed to have to drop down into second gear in to make progress.
So although there were all the makings of a sleek, attractive executive saloon, the driving experience was sadly missing. A quick peek in the boot revealed a smallish lid but an impressive 480 litres of storage.
Things certainly improved when we switched to try the energetic and willing 2.5-litre 194PS Tourer, complete with Mazda’s 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G petrol engine, which was making its UK debut. Overseeing things was a tidy six-speed automatic gearbox (no manual option is available). The ride was on the firm side, but always smooth, with any road noise reduced to a bare minimum. It struck us as an ideal choice for anyone who covers a lot of motorway miles. That said, there was plenty of fun and satisfaction to be had from the quieter lanes that formed part of the test route. Economy for this model is 41.4mpg, and the 0 to 62mph time drops to 8.1 seconds. Boot space is impressive: 522 litres with the rear seats in place, rising to 1664 when they’re folded flat.
To conclude, this refreshed Mazda 6 is worth serious consideration, especially if you are a high mileage driver looking for comfort, great looks and endless miles of smooth motoring. Our preference would be for the bigger engine, with its auto box… but we are more interested in the diesel variants which become available in the autumn. Watch this space.
the classy, sophisticated interior
the head-up display – a real boon for safety
We didn’t like:
the 2.0-litre engine which needed too much work
the dials which felt old-fashioned and sparse
WE SAY The updated Mazda 6 is classy and very comfortable.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62 in 9.4 seconds
Figures for the 2.0-litre 165PS SportNav+