New Mazda 6 vs rivals

13 Feb, 2013 10:30am

Does the Mazda 6 deliver more than just stunning looks? We pit it against its Skoda and VW rivals

The family car market isn’t what it was. Sales are being taken by everything from efficient compact execs to space-friendly MPVs. Brands need to make their cars stand out – and Mazda has done just that with its dramatic new 6.

It ditches the previous model’s hatch body in favour of a sharply styled saloon shape. But that’s not the only string to the Mazda 6’s bow. The manufacturer is set to make its entire range as sporty as its MX-5 two-seater – as the sharp CX-5 SUV has already shown.

The 6 has always followed this ethos, but this latest version promises to be the sportiest yet. Plus, it mixes performance with efficiency, thanks to its SkyActiv engine range. Here we try the flagship 2.2D Sport in its most powerful guise.

We’ve lined up two tough rivals for the 6’s first test. The VW Passat Sport isn’t as powerful, but has a high-quality cabin and a few racy touches. Can it back up its Sport badge with an involving drive?

Completing our line-up is our favourite family car: the Skoda Superb. It shares the Passat’s engine, and has a big cabin and is relaxing to drive, but foregoes any sporting pretensions to focus on value in SE Plus trim.

Can the 6 make an impact against these cars and offer driving fun for the family?


If you’re in the market for a stylish saloon with a sporty edge, then the Mazda 6 is the one for you. The catwalk looks are like nothing else in the class, but what’s so special about this car is how it makes you feel behind the wheel.

It’s fast, responsive and agile, yet none of this comes at the expense of running costs. Although fuel economy is a little disappointing, low CO2 emissions mean the tax bills are attractive and you get a lot of goodies included in the price.

The Volkswagen Passat takes second place, but only just. It’s sportier to drive than the Skoda Superb – although is nowhere near as entertaining as the 6 – while the spartan kit list and poorer emissions peg it back.

In fairness, the Superb doesn’t have any sporting pretensions and it’s still a practical family car. But it needs a cleaner engine if it’s to keep pace with the new class front-runners.

Disqus - noscript

Yet again AE has flawed when it comes to comparing against rivals. When they have chosen top of the range Passat Sport and Mazda Sport, why you haven't considered Superb Elegance??? Of course, Skoda may not be the best when it comes to emissions but what you get for the money is vital! When it comes to standard equipment list, can VW or Mazda be a better match against Skoda??? No way........
AE, try to get the numbers right first of all. The dimensions for VW Passat is wrong!

Kudos to Mazda for coming up with a class leader in a shrinking segment.

Kudos too, to AE, for giving it a chance, and not going for the default 1st place for VW.

My current 59 plate 6 2.2D hatch lasted only 39 months (42K miles) before catastrophic engine failure due to injector seals - off the road since 27.12.12 and coiunting - buyer beware, I say!

Drove a Mazda 3 hatch to the South of France last year. It didn't miss a beat there and back non-stop except for food/fuel breaks.

Filled it with stuff on the way south so we hung our two bikes on the back. Return trip they could go inside.

Result was a 10 percent fuel saving, 5-10km/h faster cruise.

Passat is a worthy rival but instead of Superb - in my opinion - Autoexpress should have compared this Mazda with Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia.

Lets be honest, the Passat fares better than the Mondeo or the Insignia in most group tests, so if the Mazda beat it, it would still come out on top against them.

In my opinion Mazda, in the last year, have ruined the look of all their cars especially the 5 and 6. I like a car to look like something that has not been in an accident before it is delivered. (SEAT, BMW's etc.complex body creases for example).
The Insignia sells well, but why? The Mondeo is a far better car, better built, more reliable and rear seat passengers can enter without damaging their head on the inside door frame. Never driven a modern Passat
.New Octavia should eclipse all of them except for people's stupid prejudices.

Let me guess- You drive a Passat, :) personally i cannot recall a single test where a passat beats a Mondeo

Agree totally, new Octavia has received 5 star reviews both in AE and WhatCar mags, and is adorned and finished in a quality way above the Vauxhall and Ford etc. Of the Insignia and Mondeo, the Octavia outsold both put together in Europe last year.

After I also suffered catastrophic with my mazda, at 32k miles and the abysmal customer service from my supplying dealer (Furrows telford) and Mazda HQ customer services I will never ever buy a Mazda again, the build quality is appalling.

oops should have read "catastrophic engine failure" !

I hope you're not suggesting that the Insignia is a good looking car? The Insignia sells well because Vauxhall offers huge (and I mean considerable) discounts to fleet buyers. It's far from being a bad car (just not very interesting), so when you're faced with the Financials of both none petrol heads buy the cheaper car.

The Insignia is a nice looking car - much more so than a Passat and Octavia which like most VAG products look tedious!

Made 2 comments yesterday - ones here, the other isn't so I'll repeat - I.d buy the Mazda - no problems, the VW is unreliable and expensive to repair after the 3 yr warranty, it also looks boring and I really don't care about its "perceived" quality, the Superb ? - only bought by taxi drivers and poorer councils for their Mayor :)

Why not compare it to the Honda Accord instead of the sleepy skoda?

Mazda has less fault rates than Ford.
Source: TÜV.

My sympathies. Mazda seems to have more than a few issues with quality, and the dealers and Mazda UK are poor as well apparently.

Note my comment above. Mazda are facing thousands of warranty claims and many law suits in North America over poor build quality and customer service. A few years ago I considered a Mazda but would not touch one with a barge pole now. No wonder the company is in trouble.

Not in the paint and bodywork department they don't. Mazda are one of the worst offenders for inadequate corrosion prevention and paint defects resulting from the use of poor materials and questionable production practices. Reliable maybe but still not a good long-term proposition.

Have run various Mazda's (323, 3 and 6) over an eleven year period and no trouble with any of them. Only ever had to replace the odd consumable, tyres etc. Although I am aware of some DPF issues on Euro spec diesel 6's the petrol powered cars I have owned have been bullet proof. Not sure where your comments above are sourced (or that I believe them)

Mazda cant have anything on the 1995-2003 Merc E Class (W210). All panels even the roof were prone to 'tin-worm'. MB were heavily criticized in the European press for never officially acknowledging the problem. The S class from this era was also affected.

You are free to believe what you want. Quality issues with the 3 and 6, in particular with paint and bodywork, are well known. How do I know that you are reporting your ownership experiences accurately and objectively?

Actually no I drive an 61 plate S80 (third Volvo in a row). I have always been a fan of Fords, having owned previous Mondeo's, I have owned privately ST24, ST200,ST220 a couple of Ghia X's , until the current one, which I found disappointing, and not as well resolved as the previous generation, coupled with shocking dealerships, I looked elsewhere, I buy and run my own cars, and I find decent after sales just as important as the driving experience, my local VW dealer was far better than the Ford dealer, but the Volvo dealer is head and shoulders above them both, and the Volvo is much more relaxing to drive on long journeys (and more reliable).

Well, let me tell you some more about my car ownership. I used to have an Audi TT which suffered expensive coil pack failure and had numerous interior rattles so highly unlikely I will return to an Audi/VW product. In fact I dont think I would touch any German car 'with a barge pole'! Will be sticking with Mazda ownership, which is much more cost effective and hassle free. My ownership experiences are clearly in the majority backing up Mazda's reliability statistics. Mazda were recently in the top10 of manufacturers of What Car awards. Their MX5 was voted as most reliabile car (out of 100 cars) in last years Driver Power awards. Your comments above are obviously fabricated since you cant even provide the source. Incidentally, what 'perfect' car do you drive?

The Mazda is so classy and premium I would have put it against 3-Series and C-Class...The Passat is just dull and old!

What nonsense. First of all you launch into an attack on German cars as you clearly assume I must own one. Secondly, you quote reliability statistics (which are actually highly suspect in terms of reliability and validity) when Mazda reliability was in fact never questioned!

In a reply to another post below I acknowledge that Mazdas are indeed reliable but nevertheless have issues with paint and bodywork. This is made far worse by the fact that the dealers and Mazda UK give poor support to customers when problems arise. The person I sold my last car to had a late model 626 (2001) and he would not touch another thanks to numerous bodywork issues and the shabby treatment he received. Who on earth could be bothered "fabricating" information on such a minor issue? Go and Google "Mazda rust problems" and "Mazda quality problems" and stop regarding genuine comments as some kind of chidish vendetta.

Yes, Volvos are top notch (both the cars and the dealers).

Perhaps you need to 'calm down dear' Getting back to the original point about American Lawsuits - which I was picking you up on. That obviously is rubbish (and a fabrication) because I cant find evidence on that, and you clearly dont have a source. And I was not launching an Attack on German cars just because I think 'you' own one. I was highlighting a bad personal experience which made me return to Mazda. You sound like a right cynical old t**t. No doubt you drive something 'amazing'like a Fiat Punto or Dawoo Matiz..LOL..

I really cannot understand why the 3 series, A4 and Class are omitted from family car comparisons like this. There rare now more of those family cars on teh raod today than any other family cars, and yet they're not compared here. The cars tested above are at least £25k - more expensive than the vast majority of the 2.0 Diesel Merc/Audi/BMW family/rep-mobile saloons cars that flood the roads today. It would be nice to see comparisons with makes such as the Mazda, so we can all see a fair comparison between the cars in the family car sector, rather than constantly separating them out into some ridiculas "junior exec" sector. At the end of the day, they are all just "family cars", and the proof is that the roads are completely swamped with them, and buyers would like to see some comaprisons with the other family cars (across the board -all family cars). I suspect that AE is under immense pressure by BMW/Merc/Audi not to compare their family saloons with other family saloons (other than VW), thereby keeping up the so called "Junior Exec" pretence.

Murgatroyd - I and my father have together over the years owned 25 Mazdas. In all these cars we've together had 2 faults, neither of these affecting driveability. We've had no issues with paint, bodywork or corrosion. In all quality comparisons Mazda are usually at the very top. Not least the statistics from Wards insurance where it was the number one brand with the least number of warranty repairs. Right now I own a 10 year old Rx-8, which so far has not had one single fault, and a 2009 Mazda 6, also completely trouble free. I have ordered a new Mazda 6 Wagon to replace it and my confidence in Mazdas quality is absolutely rock solid!

Had a Mazda 6 a couple of years ago, owned for six and a half from new and did over 110k miles with hardly an issue. Ate front tyres (spirited driving in a diesel I guess) . Never missed a beat and only moved on because it was due brakes, clutch, tyres, service simultaneously and it was easier and cheaper to get another vehicle. Got a great trade in against a new car too. Like the look of the new model so may be popping in to my local showroom soon. When I bought the Mazda I test drove it by going to the nearest VW garage and parked it next to a Passat for a real comparison. It was streets ahead in looks and although I drove the Passat for only a nominal distance I felt it handled much better too. Long term ownership was a doddle (except when the good lady pranged it) and great value for money.

A local taxi driver has one and covered over 250k from new...