It’s the second win in a row for the sleek Mazda 6, which continues to prove that you can have a family car that appeals to both the head and the heart.
Sensible yet stylish, fast but frugal, the sharp handling and remarkably practical Mazda continues to tick all the family car boxes. At the heart of the car’s appeal are those stunning lines, which allow the 6 to stand out from the crowd.
Unlike most rivals, Mazda abandoned the workaday hatchback bodystyle in favour of a more sophisticated and shapely four-door saloon layout. Blessed with flowing lines, soft curves and taut creases, it gives the 6 real kerb appeal. Yet there’s so much more to the Mazda than just a pretty face.
Look underneath the seductive exterior and you’ll find the company’s excellent SkyActive engines. Star of the show is the gutsy 2.2-litre diesel, which revs with the urgency and smoothness of a petrol, yet emits only 104g/km and is capable of more than 60mpg.
The 6 is shot through with the spirit of the brand’s brilliant MX-5 roadster, meaning you’re always looking for excuses to take the long way home. And when you don’t want to unleash the car’s wild side, the Mazda performs faultlessly as a faithful and versatile family car. The roomy interior is impeccably built and crammed with standard kit, while the well shaped boot has a healthy and practical 483-litre capacity.
There’s even a spacious Tourer estate version for those who need even more space. Yet for most drivers, the saloon will be able to cope with everything that’s thrown at it. The only real question is: what can possibly stop the Mazda making it third time lucky in 2015?
Business users and private buyers will love the efficient and muscular 2.2-litre diesel in the Mazda 6, while the sharp handling will appeal to keen drivers. Sport models look racier, but cheaper SE spec has all the essentials.
A recent facelift injected new life into the spacious Skoda Superb. Fresh looks, more kit and a revised engine line-up help lift the Skoda back into class contention. But the best bits are still there, so you get the same vast boot and cavernous cabin, plus excellent value for money.
The Vauxhall Insignia also benefited from a mid-life refresh in 2014. Tweaked looks and an upmarket interior have boosted its appeal, while cleaner engines and improved refinement make it better to drive. The most important update, though, is the £2,000 price reduction.