An enjoyable saloon with decent performance, but we prefer the Mazda CX-5
The Mazda6 is a four door saloon that’s available in a number of trim levels and with a good selection of diesel and petrol engines. If you’re after a bit more space, see our Mazda6 Tourer review .
The car we drove had a four-cylinder, eight valve 2.2-litre diesel engine capable of developing 175ps at 4,500rpm, and was fitted with a six-speed automatic gearbox. We drove the top of the range Sport Nav model, which comes with 19in alloy wheels, keyless entry, a high-end Bose Centerpoint surround-sound audio system, touchscreen navigation system and reversing camera.
Mazda claims the 6 will accelerate from 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds and has a top speed of 134mph. Both of those figures feel realistic, but the Mazda6’s diesel engine is better suited to a relaxed driving style, especially when driving around town. We found it a little slow to pull away at junctions or when moving off from a stationary position. In-motion acceleration was snappier, but we’d still think carefully before overtaking on an A road. Although we didn’t drive this car on the motorway, we can’t see overtaking would be a problem there.
We found the Mazda6 has a reasonably firm ride; it was fine on the motorway, but we tended to feel imperfections on a country road. The car also had a tendency to dip its nose over bumps.
Like the excellent Toyota GT86, the automatic Mazda6 provides a Manual mode that lets you shift gear sequentially using the gear stick or steering-wheel mounted paddles.
As with the GT86, you must move the gear stick to the right to engage manual mode, and you can change gear using the paddles at any time, even when in Drive. This is handy should you want to shift down to overtake, and we much preferred to use the paddles to change gear rather than the stick. It felt much more natural in a relaxed car such as this. Gear changes aren’t as quick as we’d like, but they’re not slow either. We’d have preferred the behaviour of the stick to be inverted so that pushing the stick forward downshifted, but that’s purely a personal preference.
IN THE CABIN
Other than a need to give it high revs when setting off, the 6 is easy to drive and its cabin is a pleasant place to be. The Mazda6’s instrument cluster is well laid out, with the rev counter to the left, the speedometer in the centre and an LCD information display to the right. Importantly, we could easily see which gear we’d selected so that we could make sure we were getting the best fuel economy or had selected the correct gear for overtaking.
We like Mazda’s multi-function steering wheels, and it certainly made the Mazda6 feel more luxurious and much more fun. It has all the buttons you need to control your phone, your audio and cruise control, and all the buttons are fairly easy to press with your thumbs. The steering wheel feels fairly large, but that isn’t a problem in a family saloon such as this, and suits the car.
We love electric seats, and those fitted to our Mazda6 were very comfortable and responsive. The driver’s seat was 6-way adjustable, while the front passenger’s was 4-way adjustable. The only thing we don’t like is the small aperture through which you must squeeze to sit in the driver’s seat. Our tester is only 5ft 8in, so getting in and out of cars, even sports cars, isn’t normally a problem.