Mazda 6

16 Aug, 2006 1:00am Richard Dredge

Are there any pitfalls to look out for on the Japanese star?

It is four years since the Mazda 6 debuted, and it’s still hot property on used forecourts. As a result, the stylish family car holds its value better than many rivals, and is well worth the extra outlay.
Whichever model you buy, expect to be smitten – and if you don’t believe us, then listen to other readers. In 2003, the Mazda topped the Auto Express Driver Power car satisfaction survey, based on the testimony of owners.

Prices
High-mileage early cars cost less than £5,000, but expect to pay £8,000 for a 53-plate 2.0 TS or an 04-plate 1.8 S saloon with 30,000 miles. Hatchbacks cost £200 more than a saloon, while an estate is another £500. Best buy is the 2.0 diesel. A 121bhp 54-plate TS with 20,000 miles sells for £10,000 – another £1,000 nets you an 05-plate 136bhp TS2 with even lower mileage.

What to look for
Don’t be tempted by a saloon if it’s got a hatchback price tag – the five-door is much more practical. If low running costs are your priority, opt for a diesel – although it will cost more initially, you’ll get the money back when you come to sell the car on. The 2.3-litre Sport is expensive to run, with group 13 insurance and typical economy of 28mpg. If you’re after an oil-burner, the 121bhp version has as much performance as you’re ever likely to need.

Owner comment
Steve Moss, from Ely in Cambridgeshire, bought an ex-demonstrator 2002 Mazda 6 with only 3,000 miles on the clock from a local dealership.
“The car’s mileage has now reached 46,000, and although I would normally sell at this point, I don’t know what to replace it with,” Steve told us.
He added: “The diesel powerplant is smooth and economical, while reliability has proven to be nearly perfect. The only problem that I’ve come across has been a juddering clutch, but the dealer soon fixed that.”

Checklist
FUEL TANK: make sure the car has been recalled for a modification to the fuel tank. This can be damaged by its close proximity to the exhaust, but work should have been carried out by a dealer to avoid any future problems.
TYRES: all models are prone to uneven tyre wear, so check the tracking is spot on – or you’re likely to find yourself faced with hefty bills for fresh rubber. Brake discs can warp, so feel for juddering as the car slows down.
CLUTCH: vibration through the clutch pedal is a common fault on diesels, but it can be cured easily by a dealer-fitted modification. The system can also fail prematurely, so it’s best to make sure it’s not slipping and that gearchanges are smooth.
AIR-CON: problems can crop up with the air-conditioning sensors, which may ultimately lead to the engine shutting down. While this is relatively inexpensive to fix, it can be inconvenient if the car suddenly cuts out.
LIGHTS: although our car doesn’t have front foglights, these may cause problems on other models. A faulty assembly can create short circuits – leading to fuses blowing. While it can be fixed easily, repair the unit promptly to avoid further complications.

Alternatives
Ford Mondeo (2000 to date)
FOR: impressive handling and dynamics, low running costs, spacious cabin. AGAINST: not very exclusive, rapid depreciation uinspiring cabin

Peugeot 406 (1996-2004)
FOR: stylish looks, long-haul comfort, roomy estates AGAINST: poor build quality, underpowered small petrol engines, no longer in production

Verdict

The Mazda 6 was a breath of fresh air when it was launched, and has had a similar effect on second-hand forecourts. In a sector full of predictable models it stands out, which is why it was commended by our expert panel of judges at this year’s Auto Express Used Car Honours (Issue 905). It makes a great used buy, is good to drive, well equipped and spacious. Yes, it costs more than the equivalent Ford Mondeo, but carries greater prestige and will be worth more when it’s time to sell.
We like the impressive driving experience, distinctive looks and classy cabin, superb reliability and generous levels of equipment. We don't like the firm ride, the car's expense compared to rivals, used examples can prove hard to find. Check that recalls have been done, too.

Factory recalls

Feb 2003: Engine stalls on cars built from June 2002 to November 2002.
Aug 2003: Brake fluid level warning light can fail on models made between February 2002 and May 2003.
Dec 2003: Foglamp problem on cars from February 2002 to February 2003.
Sep 2004: Leakage from the fuel tank may occur on vehicles made between February 2002 and February 2004.
Sep 2004: The injector oil seal on the cylinder head cover can become detached on cars built from August 2003 to November 2003.

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