As regular readers will know, I have a bit of a soft spot for Mazda. They’re not flash, nor are the expensive, but they are very good & the latest model to whizz it’s way up to the north west for Company Car & Van to test was the Mazda6 , in 2.0 litre petrol 165ps Sport Nav+ guise. The current 6 may have been around for a long time in car years, six, but two refreshes later & it still looks & feels like one of the best cars in it’s class.
Squint hard & you may just about notice the update’s on the 2018 model. There’s a new front grille, featuring a different mesh, updated headlights, a refreshed rear bumper & a redesigned boot lid. Most of the changes are actually on board or under the bonnet, including new steering & suspension. As we found out, it’s still good to drive & handles winding road’s particularly well.
The interior updates are subtle. The centre console layout has been redesigned & now comes with a smaller panel of climate control buttons. Our Sport Nav+ test car feels more premium than it’s predecessor, with black leather upholstery & a real wood trim. The 8″ colour display, an inch larger than before, allows access to the SatNav, telephone & entertainment functions – in the Sport Nav+ this is a premium Bose system with 11 speakers – . In truth, it looks a bit dated when compared to newer rivals, but, despite this, it works well & it’s really easy to use.From a practical perspective you can adjust the settings using either the rotary wheel in the centre of the front seats, or you can touch the screen to select certain functions. The graphics too although clear & concise, are also starting to show their age.
Mazda have also improved the safety features in the latest 6, in line with the competition. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control, lane keep assist & autonomous emergency braking are now fitted across the range. Our test car featured the addition of an £800 Safety Pack, which adds a 360 degree monitor, adaptive LED headlights, rear smart city brake support & driver attention alert.
The Mazda6 is to an upright SUV, it’s a saloon, but despite this fact, the interior space is excellent & you’ll comfortably seat four adults. There’s plenty of leg room in front & back & even a couple of six footers will get comfortable in the rear seats. Thanks to the transmission tunnel, a common problem, which takes up a fair amount of the rear footwell, a fifth passenger will struggle for leg room in the rear. Storage wise, there’s a decent sized glove box, four slim door pockets, two cup holders, a central arm rest/storage space & a small open cubby hole for your keys in the centre console. The boot offers a useful 480 litres of space & if required it’s really quick & simple to fold the rear seats down, creating a large more useful space.
Mazda offer customers the choice of petrol or diesel engines in the 6, with our test car featuring the smaller 2.0 litre petrol 165ps unit. As I found out when driving the Mazda CX-5 last year, this petrol engine is fine, offering a top speed of 134mph & a 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds. However, unlike the diesel which offers a lower 150ps, there’s no mid-range oomph & the lack of torque makes the petrol less enjoyable than it’s diesel brethren. Factor in our test cars claimed combined economy of 44.1 mpg ( we averaged just 37mpg in a week where we covered over 20o miles ) & CO2 emissions of 146g/km from it’s Euro 6d engine & the 2.2 diesels 72mpg claimed combined economy & 102g/km of CO2 emissions seems a far better bet, in spite of the anti diesel rhetoric out there.
Still, the petrol 6 is happy enough on the motorway, with the well insulated cabin keeping both road & wind noise at bay. The seats are mega-comfortable & the seat adjustments work really well in helping to get that all important driving position just right. Local B roads offered up the chance to push this large saloon out of its comfort zone, but the 6 did not waiver. The suspension isn’t the softest out there, but my does it take corners in it’s stride. With a more powerful engine you could really have some fun. I don’t think I’ve driven a more comfortable car all year, with Mazda taking Saab’s old mantle of most comfortable car seats.
Compared to the opposition & in this I’m including the Volkswagen Passat, Peugeot 508 & Ford Mondeo, from a driving perspective, the Mazda6 holds it’s own. The Peugeot is newer & it’s nicer inside & out, whilst the Passat & Mondeo offer comfortable if not exciting driving. The Mazda6 sits somewhere between these as it’s a better car to drive than either the VW or Ford, but lacks the Peugeots new style in the sector, which is heavily borrowed from the German marques above.
In what is fast becoming a ‘dinosaur’ sector, save for the German premium brands anyway, the saloon market has shrunk in the onslaught of a myriad of SUV’s. There is an estate version of the Mazda6 & this is more practical, but I’m guessing that as a brand, Mazda are now selling or supplying more CX-5’s than Mazda 6’s, as the great SUV obsession shows no signs of abating.
In conclusion then, if you really have to have a saloon car, then the Mazda6 is well worth your consideration. With contract hire rates of just £209 + vat per month on a 3 year, 6+35, 10,000 mile, non-maintained contract, the petrol Mazda6 SE-L is competitive, especially when the diesel SE-L comes in at a much higher £283 + vat per month on an identical contract. This equates to over £3,000 more for the diesel than the petrol, over 3 years, so perhaps the petrol engine does make sense after all ?
A Mason Mount 3.25/5
Mazda6 Saloon 2.0 165ps Sport Nav+ £25,995