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Mazda 6 Estate 2.0 TS

Latest load-lugger from Mazda is ready to take on the mighty Mondeo.

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THE latest Mazda 6 trades on its looks and the estate model is no different. The load-lugger is handsome and practical in equal measure, with a strong engine line-up and competitive prices. It can’t match the all-round talents of Ford’s Mondeo, but the smart Mazda will be more exclusive than its blue oval stablemate, which will be enough to convince many buyers on its own. It’s a solid, individual choice, especially in diesel guise.

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Estate cars used to be all about space – but not any more! These days, style is just as important as capacity... so how will Mazda’s new load-lugging 6 fare when it hits the UK’s roads next month?

One look at the sloping tailgate confirms that the company has worked hard to preserve the smart styling of the basic hatchback on which the estate is based. In fact, from the front it’s exactly the same as the appealing five-door.

At the back, its extended roof-line is attractive and doesn’t look like it’s been tagged on as an afterthought, while the rising waistline and chrome roof rails give the 6 that all-important sporty profile. A pair of striking lights also help liven up the rear end.

The estate body is only 30mm longer than the five-door’s, and the extra metal is all behind the rear wheels. However, the tapered tail-gate eats into luggage space and the 519-litre boot is a mere nine litres bigger than in the hatchback.

And even if you fold the seats flat, its 1,751-litre maximum is still only 49 litres greater than the hatch version. In comparison, the new Ford Mondeo manages to provide 542 and 1,733 litres respectively, so the Mazda is competitive for the class.

The load bay is wide, and as the tailgate closes, a cover deploys automatically to protect your luggage from prying eyes. During development, the firm’s engineers tested a system using electric motors, but the final design for the tonneau is a simple mechanical affair.

It saves weight and feels robust enough to cope with the demands of family life. However, aside from some tie-hooks, there’s nothing particularly clever or innovative to secure smaller loads, which is disappointing.

Up front the interior matches the hatchback, with an uncluttered layout and impressive fit and finish. As before, some of the hard materials aren’t really in keeping with the car’s premium aspirations, but it’s a roomy and comfortable place to spend time.

Equipment levels are generous, as even base TS trim includes dual-zone climate control, cruise control, an auxiliary input for the stereo and a multi-function steering wheel as standard. In the back, headroom is improved by the extended roofline.

Take to the road, and it’s hard to tell the estate apart from the five-door from behind the wheel. With an identical wheelbase, it shares its stablemate’s sharp handling, pre-cise steering and, unfortunately, its firm ride and restless road manners.

The body control is also a touch disappointing, as the heavier estate takes fractionally longer to respond to rapid changes of direction than the five-door. As well as the 2.0-litre petrol engine fitted to our test car, buyers will also be able to choose from a smaller 1.8-litre unit and the flagship 2.5-litre petrol.

But the most popular powerplant looks set to be the new 2.0-litre diesel. With 138bhp and 330Nm of torque, it provides the perfect blend of performance and economy.

It can achieve a claimed 49.6mpg and has CO2 emissions of 151g/km, putting it in the 19 per cent tax band for company car drivers. Most welcome of all, though, is its price, because in TS spec the oil-burner costs £17,940, which is only £610 more than the 2.0-litre petrol.

If the standard car isn’t exciting enough for you, Sport trim includes a set of 18-inch alloy wheels and a bodykit, while flagship SL models come with extras including full leather upholstery, Xenon headlamps and parking sensors. Ultimately, it’s not the biggest or most talented estate car in the sector, but the 6 is a capable and classy contender. It also costs only £700 more than the hatchback, which is even less than before.

The Mazda’s competitive pricing, distinctive styling and decent dynamics ensure it’s a genuine alternative to the all-conquering Ford Mondeo.

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