Mazda 6 Tourer review
The Mazda 6 Tourer is a spacious, economical and well-made estate that rivals the Ford Mondeo
The Mazda 6 Tourer estate has lots of space, lots of tech but doesn’t cost lots to run. It has been developed using Mazda’s ‘SkyActiv’ philosophy, which focuses on fuel efficiency and low CO2, making it a great company car choice and a cost-effective family car.
A recent update will be hard to spot on the outside, but it has helped keep the interior up to speed with its main rivals: the Ford Mondeo Estate and VW Passat Estate. There are three trim levels offered and a choice of efficient petrol and diesel engines. Equipment on the SE includes 17-inch alloys, air-conditioning as well as cruise control and a 5.8-inch touchscreen.
The Mazda 6 is a large family car introduced in 2002, replacing a model sold for many years in the UK as the Mazda 626. Indeed, the first Mazda 6 was developed on a carried-over version of the final 626 platform, making it more than just a spiritual successor.
The first and second generation Mazda 6s were built at the height of the Ford/Mazda partnership meaning there was lots of technology sharing under the skin. The current third generation car was introduced in 2012, and followed its own path after Ford withdrew from the relationship. Today, the Mazda 6 is offered both as a saloon and this Tourer estate version, while its platform also forms the basis for the Mazda CX-5 compact crossover SUV.
The Tourer, along with the saloon, was facelifted in 2015 although Mazda left the styling well alone apart from a new grille design for top-spec Sport Nav models with LED running lights and fog lamps.
Most of the upgrades are inside with an all-new instrument panel and centre console design, including a seven-inch touchscreen system that’s part of the standard equipment. The generous standard spec also includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel, DAB radio with Bluetooth, air-con, cruise control, ESC, six airbags and hill-hold.
There are five spec levels – SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav, and top spec models come with leather upholstery and 19-inch wheels. You can also get a head-up display and an optional safety pack called i-ActiveSense that features City Brake Assist, Lane-Keep Assist, Attention Alert and Blind spot monitoring.
There are two engines available in the Mazda 6 Tourer line-up, with most models featuring Mazda’s 2.2-litre SkyActiv-D bi-turbo diesel with a choice of two outputs. You can also order a 2.0 litre petrol engine in two outputs, and all engines are available with six-speed manual transmissions. If you want an automatic Tourer you’ll need to pick a diesel.
Engines, performance and drive
Despite its size, the Mazda 6 Tourer doesn’t feel big or ungainly to drive. Instead, there’s a great driving position with good all-round visibility. The ride is comfortable and body control is good, too, showing that the Mazda 6 has been engineered with a fun driving experience in mind.
The Tourer feels rapid, while the smooth-shifting auto gearbox helps keep the engine on song. If you want to take manual control, you have to use the gearstick, as there are no steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
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On the road, the Mazda delivers decent comfort, although it does have a bias towards sporty handling. That means it’s a bit more fun to drive than its rivals, with sharp turn-in and decent feedback from the communicative steering. The softer suspension set-up of the SE-L model means there’s some body roll in bends, but once the car is in a turn, it feels settled and doesn’t pitch or wallow.
On the motorway, the 6 is hushed and has a smooth ride, with only a hint of the car pitching fore and aft over expansion joints.
And while the soft suspension helps to iron out bumpy urban roads, it does mean there’s more chance of scraping the front apron when negotiating speed bumps.
The petrol engines feel the most athletic, with good response and smooth power delivery, but the diesels are the standouts here.
The powerful 173bhp diesel paired with the six-speed manual transmission is the fastest, with a 7.9-second 0-62mph time that’s achieved in a quiet, refined manner. Yet the other engines aren’t sluggish, either, with the 148bhp diesel offering 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, or 10 seconds with the auto box. The faster diesel will almost reach 140mph too.
Switch to petrol, and the 163bhp version will crack 133mph with 0-62mph in 9.1 seconds, while the 143bhp model’s numbers are 128mph and 9.6 seconds.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
So does this ‘SkyActiv’ fuel-saving stuff actually work? The 6 Tourer proves that it does, posting great mpg figures and low CO2 for low tax bills. The 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine is the most efficient, returning 67.3mpg and 110g/km of CO2 – or 57.6mpg and 129g/km with the six-speed auto. You need the mid-level SE-L to achieve the highest mpg numbers, though, as it comes with the new i-Eloop regenerative braking system.
That’s an improvement of around 18 and 21 per cent compared to the outgoing model, but more importantly, puts it well ahead of the Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0-litre diesel’s 57.7mpg and 129g/km. It takes the 1.6-litre diesel Mondeo Estate to almost match the Mazda’s figures, with the smaller-engined Ford managing 65.7mpg and 114g/km of CO2. The Honda Accord Tourer can’t match the fuel-sipping Mazda, either, with its best of 51.4mpg and 143g/km.
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Elsewhere in the engine line-up the Mazda 6 Tourer performs well, too. The 173bhp diesel variant has a best combined cycle figure of 61.4mpg, with C02 emissions of 121g/km, although this slips to 57.6mpg and 129g/km if you specify the auto gearbox.
The entry-level petrol engine is the 143bhp unit, which delivers a best of 50.4mpg on the combined cycle and 131g/km of CO2, while the more powerful 163bhp petrol can manage 47.9mpg and 136g/km.
In terms of overall value the Mazda 6 Tourer looks like a winner in the showroom too. It’s mix of equipment, style and great driving characteristics put it right amongst the premium class leaders like BMW and Audi, yet it’s pricing competes more directly with mainstream rivals like Ford and VW.
The insurance group ratings for the Mazda 6 Tourer range from 16 for the entry-level petrol model, up to group 23 for the quickest and most expensive 173bhp Sport Nav diesel.
While the Mazda 6 Tourer performs well in nearly every respect, it doesn’t quite cut the mustard on the used market. Perhaps as a result of a less than well-appreciated brand image, the car will struggle to beat a 40 per cent residual value after three years and 30,000 miles – at least according to valuation experts CAP. They reckon petrol models will do a couple of points worse, hovering around the 38/39 per cent mark.
It’s not an awful result compared to some of the mainstream opposition, but the Mondeo Estate ranges from 40 to 45 per cent, the VW Passat estates ranges from 43 to 48 per cent. CAP also predicts three-year/30,000 mile values for the BMW 3 Series Touring from 38 to 45 per cent.
Interior, design and technology
One area where the 6 stands out from its rivals is its styling. The Japanese brand has given all of its models a corporate face, but the flowing lines and swooping bodywork make the Tourer a lot more flamboyant than the rather straight-edged VW Passat.
The recent facelift tidied up the Mazda’s nose with a re-profiled grille and a new bumper design, but only the most eagle-eyed fan will notice the differences. Go for an SE-L model, and you get standard halogen headlamps, although there are no options to upgrade to LEDs or xenons. If you want xenons with LED daytime running lights, they’re standard on the higher-spec Sport Nav version.
Elsewhere, you get silver roof rails and smart 17-inch alloys, but while the rims help to soften the ride, they look lost in the wheelarches. Another gripe, and something the 6 has in common with the Passat, is the range of uninspiring metallic paints on offer. At least the recent update added bright silver to the palette, or you could go for Mazda’s distinctive Soul Red colour, which carries a £120 premium over the standard metallics, at £660.
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Inside, the dash design looks neat and the cabin is well built, but some of the plastics used feel cheap compared to those in the VW and Ford, while the blocky trip computer display looks a little dated compared to the Mondeo’s TFT screens. Overall, though, the Mazda is logically laid out and easy to get along with, even if it can’t quite match the VW’s executive car feel.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
the Tourer has been updated with the infotainment system first seen on the Mazda 3. It retains the rotary controller and shortcut buttons on the centre console, but the old infotainment screen has been replaced by a larger, tablet-style touch display that’s mounted closer to the driver. Controlling the assorted functions is relatively easy, and you can either use the touchscreen at all times or the controller, or you can switch between the two.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Mazda 6 Tourer’s cabin is pretty spacious, although the Passat has more rear legroom. It also wins on practicality, as the Mazda doesn’t offer much storage, with shallow door bins, a reasonable glovebox, an armrest bin and two small cup-holders.
The Mazda’s seats are comfortable though, with good adjustment, and they’re sited low down giving a sport driving position.
The Mazda 6 Tourer is 4,805mm long, 1,840mm wide and 1,475mm tall, so it’s a little bigger than the 4,767mm x 1,832mm x 1,477mm VW Passat estate. The Mazda’s sleeker styling explains its lower cargo volume.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Thanks to the redesigned roofline, the Mazda 6 Tourer offers more headroom for rear passengers than the saloon version. With plenty of knee- and legroom too, it means there’s plenty of space for three adults in the back. Isofix child seat mounts are standard on the two outer rear seats.
Open the car’s tailgate, and there’s 522 litres of space available. That’s 22 litres more than in the Ford Mondeo Estate, but a huge 128 litres behind the VW Passat Estate’s capacity. Like the VW, the Mazda has a slight lip, but the boot latch has a protective flap that covers it and prevents items from being scratched when loading and unloading.
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Another neat feature on the 6 is that the load cover is attached to the tailgate under the rear windscreen. This means it moves up and out of the way every time you open the boot, so you don’t have to move it out of the way manually.
Like in the Passat, there are levers in the boot sides that fold the rear seats down in one action. They fold almost flat, but the seatbacks are a bit heavy to move back into position; you need to push them hard to lock them back in place. At least the seatbelts can be held back in handy restraints that stop them getting trapped in the mechanism.
Reliability and Safety
Euro NCAP has tested the Mazda 6 saloon, although the independent crash test experts haven’t had a go at the Tourer model. Still, it’s reasonable to expect broadly similar results, and the saloon earned five stars in 2013.
NCAP awarded the Mazda a healthy 92 per cent for adult occupant safety, 77 per cent for child occupant safety, 66 per cent for pedestrian safety and 81 per cent for its safety assistance systems. Those scores compare well with the Volkswagen Passat saloon tested a year later that scored 85, 87, 66 and 76 per cent across the same categories.
The Mazda comes with a pretty comprehensive package of standard safety kit, but it’s disappointing that if you want kit such as city stop braking or adaptive cruise, then you can only add them as part of a pricey option pack on the top-spec Sport Nav model.
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On the reliability front we’ve heard a few stories about issues with the 6, but the facelift should have helped to smooth out any past production problems. The pre-facelift car came 49th in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey which is pretty good out of 200 cars, and owners seemed happy with the car’s reliability, while its performance, handling and comfort all fared well. In fact, the lowest score it earned was for in-car tech, but this will definitely improve with the updated model with its new touchscreen system and the optional safety kit.
It’s also fair to say that Mazda’s dealers have a good reputation, beating VW and Ford’s networks in our most recent poll.
Mazda’s standard warranty gives you three years of cover with a 60,000 mile limit, so it’s not as good as Toyota, Renault or the Korean brands.
Servicing a Mazda 6 shouldn’t be too painful as the brand competes with mainstream rivals like Ford and VW. If you want to opt for a package deal, then you can pay for three years’ servicing up front from £499. There are also options to pay on low monthly instalments.