Mazda 6 Tourer 2.2D Sport Nav

This estate combines fine looks and great performance with impressive practicality

There’s a decent list of standard equipment, while the 6 Tourer’s 2.2-litre diesel delivers efficiency without sacrificing performance. It’s not the most spacious estate in the class, but you’ll soon forget about that when you take the Mazda on a twisty B-road.

We were very impressed with the Mazda 6 saloon when it made its road test debut earlier this year, and crowned it Best Family Car at our New Car Awards 2013. Now we’ve lined up the Tourer estate to see if it can take another victory.

Initial impressions are good, because the 6 Tourer looks just as stylish as its saloon brother. The eagle-eye headlights and sharp grille are the same as those on the saloon, as are the curvy front wings.

Further back, SE-L models and above add full-length roof rails, while at the rear the tailgate is more steeply raked than the Passat’s. Overall, the 6 Tourer really catches the eye, although the Blue Reflex paint of our test car doesn’t show it in its best light.

Climb aboard, and the 6’s dashboard layout is similar to that in the Mazda CX-5, and there are plenty of decent plastics. Build quality is good, too, although the switchgear doesn’t work with quite the precision of the VW’s.

There are deeply cowled instruments, big buttons and a BMW iDrive-style controller located behind the gearlever. This operates the central display, which can be specified with TomTom sat-nav – although because it’s not the most intuitive system to master, you end up using the touchscreen function instead. The small 5.8-inch screen is set back, too, so it’s harder to see than the systems found in the rivals here.

Our car’s £200 optional light stone leather trim is another bugbear, as it shows up dirt easily. It’s not ideal for a model that’s designed for the rough and tumble of family life – although at least the front seatbacks are black, so won’t show up marks as readily.

We were critical of the fact that the 6 saloon had a smaller boot than its rivals, and the same complaint can be levelled at the estate. It’s 65mm shorter than the saloon and its wheelbase is 80mm shorter, but the reprofiled tail makes room for a 506-litre boot with the seats up. That’s nearly 50 litres down on the Hyundai’s, though, while the Mazda trails the VW by 83 litres with the back seats folded, offering a maximum 1,648 litres. As with the Passat – but unlike the i40 – the 6 has levers set into the side of the boot that make folding the 60:40-split bench easy.

Another useful touch is the fact that the load cover clips to the tailgate. This means that it lifts out of the way every time you open the boot, with the result that you don’t have to slide it back to maximise access. Better still, the Mazda doesn’t give anything away to its rivals in terms of passenger space.

On the move, the 6 Tourer’s performance impresses. It recorded the fastest acceleration figures at the track, and the 2.2-litre diesel’s punchy nature means overtaking is a doddle. Add in a slick six-speed box with well spaced ratios and a short-throw gearlever, and our Sport model lives up to its name.

The Mazda is equally enjoyable in corners. Turn-in is positive, and the big Tourer feels agile and alert compared to its competitors here. Standard 19-inch alloys mean there’s plenty of grip, although the price you pay for this is a slightly firm ride. Cruising comfort at motorway speeds is fine, but hit a pothole and it sends shudders through the cabin.

While the 6 Tourer was the fastest and most entertaining car to drive, it didn’t lose out for economy. On test, it returned 44mpg, which was on par with the Passat and ahead of the smaller-capacity Hyundai.

The use of SkyActiv technology gives the Mazda emissions of 121g/km, which is the same as the i40 Tourer, although a lower list price means the 6 Tourer is a cheaper company car choice. In fact, the Mazda costs less to buy than either rival – yet it isn’t left wanting for equipment. Electric heated leather seats, sat-nav, a reversing camera, Bluetooth, auto lights and wipers, climate control and a Bose stereo all come as standard. The only glaring omission is a DAB radio – the Passat comes with this, although you’ll have to add some expensive options to bring it up to the Mazda’s level in other respects.

So the numbers are coming up in the 6’s favour. The question is whether they can outweigh its practical shortcomings.

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