The third-generation Mazda 6 was first introduced in 2012 at the Moscow Motor Show. The Mazda 6 Sport Nav is available as either a striking coupe-like four-door saloon or a practical Tourer. The Mazda 6 is a great car to own - in fact, we named it Best Family Car 2014 in the Auto Express New Car Awards.
And its not hard to see why – not only does the Mazda 6 Sport Nav make its rivals like the Volkswagen Passat and Vauxhall Insignia look dull by comparison with its stunning looks but it drives brilliantly too.
The Mazda 6 Sport Nav boasts a bold front end and its coupe-like looks give it a strong overall presence that is very hard to ignore. These design features are inspired by Mazda’s recent 'Kodo' Design philosophy, which can be found on many of its models.
Of more importance is the application of Mazda’s SkyActiv technology to the Mazda 6 Sport Nav. This has helped to cut emissions without compromising performance, and the powerful 2.2-litre diesel delivers the efficiency of a smaller-capacity engine. There’s a choice of 148bhp or 173bhp versions.
Some superminis like the latest Honda Jazz struggle to match the most efficient engine’s economy figures - impressive. The automatic box is very good, too, and allows the driver to execute manual shifts from the steering wheel-mounted paddles - although this is only available on the higher-output diesel engine.
There’s also a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol available in the Mazda 6 Sport Nav, with 165bhp. All engines offer excellent performance and sound sporty rather than strained when pushed. Mazda has kept the MX-5 inspired short-throw gearlever in the 6 Sport Nav, which has a light and crisp action, and the steering delivers decent feedback.
If you’re a keen driver then the Mazda 6 Sport Nav could be the car for you. Turn-in is sharp, and the low-slung Mazda has plenty of grip. It delivers entertaining handling especially through corners – where its nimble chassis responds to the lightest touch of the steering wheel with an eagerness to change direction that belies its large dimensions. It also behaves extremely well on the motorway and is a relaxed cruiser.
A little practicality has been sacrificed for the Mazda 6’s sleek looks. The hatch opening from the previous generation has been swapped for a saloon rear and the 483-litre boot is 27 litres shallower than the old one.
Fold the rear seats down and the 1,632-litre space is competitive with its rivals. Levers make this easier, but the absence of spring loaded seatbacks means you will have to push them fully down yourself. The resultant completely flat floor makes for easy loading of long items.
The back seats in the Mazda 6 are comfortable but there’s nowhere near as much space as in the class-leading Skoda Superb. Legroom is fine, but headroom is limited by the sloping roofline and steeply raked rear screen. Mazda has however made the door openings wider so that long-legged passengers can climb in and out more easily.
The Mazda 6 has a five-star Euro NCAP rating and gets a raft of goodies to keep you safe. Smart city braking is standard as well as a full compliment of seven airbags. You’ll have to fork out £700 for the rear traffic monitor – this can anticipate an impact from behind, and also includes a lane departure warning.
There’s a decent list of technology features that should make the Mazda 6 driving experience more practical. This includes leather-heated seats, a 5.8-inch touchscreen sat-nav, a USB and Bluetooth connectivity. You’ll find the standard Xenon lights and a reversing camera really useful too.
Mazda’s SkyActiv technology means the powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine doesn’t compromise on economy: it emits just 104g/km of CO2 and does 74.2mpg. That puts it well ahead of the 2.0-litre diesel Ford Mondeo, which does 54.3mpg and 119g/km of emissions, for running costs.
Mazda scored highly in our 2014 Driver Power survey coming 8th overall, and 12th in the Best Dealer survey. Mazda also offer a three-year/37,500-mile service plan from £499 and supplies a digital service record.