Mazda6 2.2D 150ps SE-L Nav Tourer
It’s great when you’re invited on a new car press launch. An opportunity to drive something brand new or updated before anyone else, enables motoring journalists to tell the car buying public about pretty much all UK car & vans quicker than ever before, as the internet & social media are now huge parts of the customer buying process. Ask any journo though, if there is a downside to a press launch & he or she will probably tell you that they didn’t have enough time driving the car, which is why all the car & van manufacturers have a press fleet that motoring writers can use for longer periods of time.
A case in point would be the Mazda6, the Japanese firm’s mid-range family saloon & estate, which was given a mid-life refresh for 2015. I was lucky enough to test one for a week & drove almost 700 miles in my test car the Mazda6 2.2D 150ps SE-L Nav Tourer. My family & I spent a weekend in Surrey & East London, firstly visiting relatives & secondly staying with close friends near Victoria Park, which meant that the Mazda6 saw around 450 miles of motorway driving & around 200 on smaller roads & stuck in traffic crossing London- whose idea was it to close the Hammersmith Flyover- & to be perfectly honest, it didn’t miss a beat.
In order to keep pace in the ‘estate’ market that’s seen plenty of recent renewal, the Mazda has had interior & exterior styling improvements, some powertrain chassis tweaks, has added more active safety equipment & now offers customers extra standard kit for their money. As the Mazda6 saloon was Company Cars Car of the Year 2013, I always new that I would like the Tourer, but was also aware that with the launch of Fords new Mondeo & Volkswagens new Passat, the opposition had moved on, meaning that the 6 did require some tweaks to keep it fresh in an ever changing marketplace.
The exterior styling includes updating the Mazda’s nose with a reprofiled grille, a new bumper design, as well as now offering LED headlamps & LED fog lights on the top of the range Sport Nav versions. There’s also silver roof rails, new 17” alloys
All models benefit from an interior refresh consisting of all-new instruments, an updated fascia, a new centre console, a new multimedia set-up and an electronic parking brake. Extra sound deadening has been added with new dampers & bushings specified for a softer, quieter ride, although these updates do not take too much away from the Mazda SkyActiv engines sense of fun.
The face lifted 6 now offers a dashboard finished with leather-looking-plastic, replacing the previous finger print-attracting gloss fascia. The touchscreen & multimedia screen found in the Mazda3 now adorn the 6 & this too is an improvement over the previous version. It retains the rotary controller with it’s useful shortcut buttons on the centre console, but the old infotainment screen has been replaced by a larger, tablet-style touch display that’s also mounted closer to the driver. Controlling the assorted functions is relatively easy, and you can either use the touchscreen at all times or the controller, or you can switch between the two. At first the temptation is to use the screen, but after a few days in the car, the rotary button becomes more useful & is easier to reach & therefore use when moving.
The Walker family doesn’t travel light & with teenagers who are now adult-sized, rear passenger space is more important than ever. Front seat passengers get plenty of space & there’s enough storage spots for a couple of water bottles & the car keys in the centre console as the new 6 features a push-button keyless starter button. The door pockets are slim though so don’t expect to cram anything larger than your wallet in these.
Rear head & legroom is adequate, although anyone over 6 feet tall will struggle & passenger five sitting in the middle doesn’t get much room either. The boot though, offers a useful 522 litres of space, which is 22 litres more than in the Ford Mondeo Estate, but a disappointing 128 litre less than in the VW Passat Estate. On a positive note, there is a bit of space under the boot floor, large enough for me to safely store four bottles of plonk as well as a sleeping bag. Like most competitors, the Mazda6 has a slight boot lip, but the boot latch has a protective flap that covers the lip & this prevents items from being scratched when loading and unloading. Another clever feature on the 6 is that the load cover is attached to the tailgate under the rear windscreen. This means it moves up & out of the way every time you open the boot, so you don’t have to move it out of the way manually, which I really appreciated. Levers in the boot sides fold the rear seats down in one action, increasing the space to 1648 litres.
Equipment levels have been improved across the range. Entry level SE comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, halogen headlights& daytime running lights, halogen front fog lights, heated door mirrors with integrated indicator lights, coming home / leaving home lights & a new compact shark fin antenna design. My test model the SE-L added, privacy glass, dusk-sensing headlights, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding door mirrors & in the Tourers case roof rails. Sport Nav grade adds 19-inch bright alloy wheels, adaptive front lighting system, LED headlamps including LED daytime running lights & LED front fog lights, plus a reversing camera.
Inside, the improvements in standard equipment are clearer tho see, with height adjustable driver & passenger seat, driver’s seat lumbar adjustment, leather steering wheel/gear knob, trip computer, electronic parking brake, DAB radio with single CD player and 4 speakers, 7” inch colour touch-screen with MZD-Connect infotainment, Multimedia Commander with separate volume dial, integrated Bluetooth® including internet app integration, USB / iPod® connectivity (2 x inputs) & an Auxiliary input jack (AUX), cruise control with an adjustable speed limiter- all now expected by company car drivers in 2015. There’s also an engine stop/start button, an i-stop idle stop/start system, a gear shift indicator, i-ELOOP brake regeneration system (165ps petrol and all diesels) manual air-conditioning, front and rear power windows
The SE-L adds an auto-dimming rear-view mirror as well as two additional speakers making a total of six, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, rear cabin air vents, rain-sensing front wipers & in the Tourer a cargo net.
Let’s not forget safety. The SE again offers you a lot for your money, with DSC stability control, TCS traction control, Emergency Stop Signalling (ESS, Hill Hold Assist (HHA), front, side and curtain airbag, a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), with SE-L and Sport Nav grades adding Smart City Brake Support (SCBS).
Fully loaded & driving down the M6, the Mazda is a really nice motorway cruiser. I set the cruise control to 50 mph in all of the road works I encountered which helps take the stress out of miles & miles of 50 mph speed limits populated by speed cameras every mile or so. I found the cabin to be quiet, so that i was able to listen to the radio & the kids there iPod & lap top whilst watching a film. Unfortunately, we spent 2 hours travelling 5 miles rear Chiswick & I expected this to affect the 6’s fuel economy. It didn’t. Thanks to the Stop/Start the engine kept it’s cool & for my entire week in the Tourer I averaged an impressive 46.9 mpg, some way short of the claimed 64.2 mpg. CO2 emissions are 110g/km for the 2.2 diesel.
That’s an improvement of around 18 to 21% compared to the outgoing model & actually puts it ahead of the Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0-litre diesel’s 57.7mpg and 129g/km.
Everything that Mazda have added to the Mazda6 has improved what was already a great car. It’s a good looker, is comfortable inside, is very well equipped, is well built, has plenty of space in the boot & like all Mazdas has a little bit of something missing in many of it’s competitors, in that it’s actually good fun to drive. When put up against the cost of purchasing an SUV, which are never cheap & in many cases don’t offer any more room than an estate or Tourer, it’s also surprisingly affordable at £24,795. In my 2013 review, I gave the Mazda saloon 4 out of 5 & the newer version in Tourer-guise gets exactly the same.
A Ben Stokes 4/5.