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Mazda 6 2.0D TS2

Japanese have upped their game in this sector with the newcomer

  • All the controls are well placed and the driving position is excellent.
  • The materials used for the interior don’t have the high-class feel of those found in the Ford.

It isn’t only Citroen that has injected some style into its family cars – Mazda has got in on the act, too. In recent years, the Japanese brand’s mainstream products have grown sportier and bolder, and the latest 6 is a prime example. The first-generation model looked good, but its replacement, launched at the start of this year, takes things a step further.

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It’s stylish, athletic and well proportioned, and there’s a hint of coupé in its sporty profile. Yet it retains a premium appearance. As a result, even our mid-spec TS2 has an upmarket presence.

This impression continues inside, where the dash is simple yet smart, with deep-set dials and a sporty three-spoke steering wheel. The driving position is excellent, even if we would like a bit more underthigh support. And, as is the case with the Ford, plenty of attention has been paid to the cabin layout – it’s very easy to get on with. While the 6 can’t match the Mondeo’s material quality, passengers are comfortable because there’s plenty of space throughout the interior.

Despite having the shortest wheelbase and overall length here, there’s more legroom than in the Citroen. The rear chairs fold flat in one simple movement to create a huge 1,702-litre boot – that’s 242 litres bigger than the Mondeo’s. With the split/fold backrest upright, there’s a 510-litre load area, which is 71 litres larger than the C5’s.

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The French car has a greater capacity under its bonnet – the 6’s 2.0-litre diesel delivers 138bhp and 330Nm of torque, and so is 33bhp and 40Nm down on the 2.2 HDi in the C5. Yet unlike Citroen, Mazda has kept an eye on the car’s weight. As a result, the 6 takes 9.1 seconds to travel from 0-60mph – only three-tenths-of-a second longer. Only from 50-70mph in sixth is it slower than the C5, due to longer gearing and torque peaking at 2,000rpm, as opposed to the Citroen’s 1,750rpm.

Coarse

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The differences in pace are barely noticeable on the road, although the 6’s lack of refinement soon becomes apparent. It’s gruff and coarse in comparison; our meter was reading 50dB at idle. And it’s noisier at 30mph and 70mph, too, with figures of 64dB and 71dB respectively.

More vibration is felt through the pedals, and the Mazda doesn’t insulate occupants from the outside world as well as the Citroen does. That’s due in part to its stiffer suspension. So although the 6 isn’t as relaxed on motorways and the ride is firmer on urban roads, this tighter edge serves to make you feel more attached to the tarmac. And with more than just a hint of the MX-5 roadster in its manners, the car delivers plenty of smiles on a twisty back road.

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The steering is sharp and the 6 turns in with precision. There’s plenty of grip and excellent body control in corners, too. The Mazda remains composed and reassuring at speed, while a snappy gearshift and crisp controls complete the package. With its sporty personality, this model will appeal to keen drivers, even though it lacks the delicate steering feedback and finely honed damping of the equally entertaining Mondeo.

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At £18,420, the 6 is £1,725 cheaper than the Ford, while lower emissions of 149g/km result in the most affordable company car tax bills here. Plus, the TS2 model is generously equipped, with a CD changer, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic air-con and climate control all as standard.

The Mazda is sharply styled, well built, good value and great to drive, plus youthful and well engineered. In other words, a great all-rounder.

Details

Price: £18,420
Chart position: 3
WHY: Second-generation 6 is big and bold, and will test the Citroen’s driver appeal to the limit.

Economy

During our test, the 6 managed to travel nearly five miles further on a gallon than the C5. Despite its keen road manners, the Mazda topped 40mpg, so 12,000 miles’ worth of fuel should set you back around £1,546.

Residuals

the Mazda is likely to be the safest place for your money. Not only is it cheapest to buy, it will be worth the most in three years. The new car retains nearly 10 per cent more of its value than its predecessor, at 44.1 per cent.

Servicing

The Mazda’s quotes may be lower than the outgoing Citroen C5’s, yet a total of £794 is still nearly £300 more than the Ford’s. The bills are sure to sting as the 6 needs attention every 12 months or 12,500 miles, too.

Tax

THIS is the only car to put out less than 150g/km of CO2, and falls into Band C for road tax. Plus, the 6’s low price and tax bracket make it attractive to business users, with lower-band drivers shelling out a little over £800 a year.

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