Mazda 6 review
The Mazda 6 is a practical and stylish family hatchback that aims to compete with the market dominating Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia
The Mazda 6 is a key model when it comes to sales for Mazda, and it’s easy to see why. The family hatch represents great value and mixes style with dynamics in a way that none of its rivals can. The sleek, aerodynamic body does well to disguise what is an exceptionally practical car, offering decent boot-space and plenty of room for adults in the rear. Choose one of the torquey diesel motors, and you’ll get an impressive mix of pace and economy – just steer clear of the underpowered and thirsty petrol engines.
Our choice: Mazda 6 2.2D (163) TS2
The Mazda 6 certainly stands out from the crowd. The sporty appeal is emphasised by the V-shaped grille, sleek headlights and coupe-like stance. From the shape it is no surprise that the current 6 is best in class when it comes to aerodynamics, boasting a 0.27Cd drag coefficient. The premium design continues towards the back, with discreetly bulging wheelarches and a subtle rear spoiler on top-spec models. Inside, all the controls fall neatly to hand and the only thing letting down an otherwise desirable package is the occasional use of cheap, hard plastics – making the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia a nicer place to sit for extended periods of time.
In an effort to offer something different in the class, Mazda has put a lot of work into how the 6 feels from behind the wheel. The result is a composed chassis that is light but stable and soaks up bumps without fuss. Although the 6 feels agile in the corners, it's not quite in the same league as the Ford Mondeo. The precise gearchange is a joy to use, but needs to be worked for maximum performance. The 2.2 diesel manages 0-62mph in just 9.2 seconds, feeling pleasantly quick due to bags of low down grunt – a 2.0 TDCi Mondeo completes the same sprint in 9.5 seconds.
Mazda 6 owners are a positive bunch when it comes to satisfaction. It came a respectable 25th in the 2012 Driver Power survey, putting it well ahead of rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. In terms of safety, the 6 comes with electronic stability control as standard, while the agile chassis and progressive brakes means the Mazda shouldn’t prove too tricky to keep on the straight and narrow. It has also been awarded a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, meaning it comfortably hits the benchmark set by the likes of Ford and Vauxhall.
Considering the coupe-like sloping roofline, the family friendly Mazda 6, is surprisingly spacious. There is good head and legroom in the back, and although it isn’t quite as big as a Ford Mondeo there is still plenty of room for adults. In terms of boot space, with 510 litres (expanding to 1702 litres with the seats down) the Mazda sits between the Mondeo (528 litres) and Vauxhall Insignia (500 litres). Up front there's plenty of storage space, with a generous central cubbyhole and decent sized glovebox. Chose the 6 over the more common Ford or Vauxhall, and you certainly won’t feel short-changed in terms of practicality.
If you’re looking for minimal running costs, then the frugal diesel engines are the pick of the bunch. Although it does command a slight premium over the similarly powered petrol car, the 2.2-litre oil-burner manages 54.3mpg and 133g/km of CO2. Yet our pick of the range is the faster, high-power version of the same engine, which still does 52.3mpg and 140g/km. Although the 6 manages respectable economy, there is a gap in the range for a super-eco model. However, the Mazda offers great levels of kit, with cruise and climate control standard on all but the entry-level model.