Love is a Wonderful Colour.
The manufacturer which gave the world the iconic MX5 has always been slightly overshadowed here in the UK, by Japanese compatriots Nissan, Honda & Toyota despite producing some exceptional cars including the previous Mazda 6 & stupendous RX8. Think Echo & the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes & Frankie Goes to Hollywood for Nissan, Honda & Toyota respectively, all post punk Liverpool bands of the early 1980’s . Scratch your head & see if you can remember The Pale Fountains , The Icicle Works or China Crisis , all produced tunes equally as good as anything from the big three but none managed quite to hit the big time. However, with the recent launch of a new Mazda6 part Jag part Aston in looks, Mazda really have come to the fleet party & after the launch of their Qashqai competitor the CX5 in 2012 & a new Mazda3 in 2013 really are back with a vengeance.
To celebrate my birthday I took delivery of a splendid looking Mazda6 2.2D in Soul Red Metallic & was immediately struck by it’s looks. Aston Martin at the front & Jaguar XF at the back. This really is a lovely looking motor & Mazda have managed to make what was an attractive car in the old 6 into an even better looking one, that really did make people do a double take when I drove past. Get into the Mazda6 & you are met by a simply laid out sweeping dashboard in quality soft touch plastics. I loved the smoothness & softness of the heating control dials which were poetry in motion. The controls were easy to understand & again made of high quality stuff, although the start button is somewhat hidden to the left of the steering wheel behind a stalk. The seats throughout were comfortable & supportive & the steering wheel controls made perfect sense as did Mazdas version of i Drive to control the various functions available on my test car.
Lift the boot & you have a useful 483 litres of space, 506 litres in the Tourer rising to 1632 litres with the rear seats folded down. The Mazda is longer than Mazdas previous model & offers excellent rear passenger space, but not quite as good as the class leading Skoda Superb. Entry level models all come with air con, cruise, USB, electric mirrors, alloys & fog lights. I had some additions on my test car the SE-L, which included dusk sensing lights, rain sensing front wipers, privacy glass, roof rails, smart City Brake Support, auto dimming rear view mirror, dual zone climate control, front & rear parking sensors, 2 additional speakers, a cargo net & an integrated Tom Tom sat nav system.
I found the light but long gear box positive on changes with the start/stop system working well at all times. Put your foot down & the engine purrs it’s way up to 60 mph before a hint of ‘dieselness’ intrudes. It handles well & compares favourably with the class leading Passat & Mondeo but is more fun to drive than either, whilst ‘offering both out’ in terms of looks.
The real Kudos with the Mazda6 is with Mazdas SkyActiv, which has taken the 6 forward in terms of technology, efficiency, dynamics & design. Indeed the new 6 is lighter but bigger than the old model, with much improved emissions & with a 2.2 diesel unit still offers decent performance. Mazdas engine line up , a four cylinder 2 litre petrol & the aforementioned 2.2 diesel share the same basic structure & 14:1 compression ratio, a high figure for petrol & a low one for diesel & both offer great fuel economy. My test model the 150 2.2 engine will reach 62 mph in 9.2 seconds, with a top speed of 126 mph, but on the combined offers 67.3 mpg with CO2 emissions of a lowly 108g/km. Intelligent Energy Loop is also offered on the new 6. This is a regenerative system that converts kinetic energy into electricity when braking & slowing down. This power is then utilised to run some of the cars electric components helping reduce fuel consumption. As usual in the ‘real world’, I averaged around 47 mpg in the test car, which I think is rather good considering the sprightliness of the engine & that in similar cars I’ve been lucky to get over 40 mpg.
Here’s the thing with the Mazda6. It ‘s easily as good as the Passat & Mondeo, looks better than both, offers advancement in technology with brilliant fuel economy & almost matches the Skoda Superb saloon for roominess. But, what I really like about the 6 is that it’s different. Not everyone is driving one. Just like the Pale Fountains or China Crisis it’s as good as Echo & the Bunnymen but not as well known. My advice is to hurry down to your Mazda fleet dealership & take one out for a ride, because once people realise how good the Mazda6 is, it won’t be such a secret anymore.
Frankie Says 4/5