The market for large family saloons is shrinking rapidly, but there’s still money to be made if the product is right. And the new Mazda 6 could be just the ticket – its elegant looks are straight from the Takeri concept, plus the most economical model, driven here, returns over 70mpg.
The handsome new 6 is also bigger, wider and longer than its forebear, and with shorter overhangs. This means more cabin space, with plenty of legroom up front and in the back.
However, if luggage capacity is key, you’ll need the estate, as the saloon has less boot space than before – with 489 litres against the old car’s 510 litres.
Whichever you go for, the cabin is elegant and sophisticated, with well finished surfaces and clever use of quality coverings on the things you touch. We just wish the design inside was more daring.
Three spec levels are offered; SE, SE-L and Sport. The entry-level SE has LED daytime running lights, foglamps and 17-inch alloys. Our mid-spec SE-L adds 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control and front and rear parking sensors, while the Sport model includes xenon lights, keyless entry and a reversing camera.
The 6 is the second product of Mazda’s SkyActiv weight and fuel-saving programme (after the CX-5), and is nearly 50kg lighter and far more economical than the previous model. Our 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel will be the biggest seller, and you can see why – improved aerodynamics and other efficiency gains mean this car delivers an incredible 72.4mpg and 104g/km of CO2.
Also debuting on the 6 is the new ‘i-Eloop’ system. This fills a capacitor with energy generated under braking or coasting, to power the air-con when the engine’s off, saving up to 10 per cent in fuel. It’s standard on the SE-L and Sport.
On the road, the 2.2-litre engine is smooth and fairly refined – unless you use full throttle, when you can hear a light diesel clatter. There’s lots of power once the turbo spins up, and while throttle response can be a little slow, on the whole, there’s more than enough performance for everyday use.
The ride is excellent, even on our SE-L’s 19-inch wheels. Grip levels are high, too, while Mazda’s sporty DNA is evident in the sharp steering and well controlled body roll. But the 6 does feel big from behind the wheel and a bit more feedback from the front wheels would be good.
The SE-L and Sport models also have impressive standard safety features, with Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and Smart Braking Support (SBS). Both brake the car automatically, with the former bringing it to a complete stop at low speeds and the latter slowing it down if a high-speed impact is imminent. Buyers can add plenty of hi-tech options, too, including radar cruise control and lane departure warning.