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Car group tests

Mazda 6 vs VW Passat

Can the newly facelifted Mazda 6 beat the class-leading VW Passat in its latest fight?

Seconds out, round two. Following its previous defeat to the Volkswagen Passat, the Mazda 6 is back for another face-off with the German saloon to try to reverse our previous decision and snatch a win.

The 6 narrowly lost out last time around due to its dated interior, but the revised car – featuring a smarter, more hi-tech cabin and refreshed styling – stands a good chance of reclaiming its crown.

In recent years, the large saloon market has been squeezed due to the rise in popularity of crossovers, so it’s no longer enough for cars like the Mazda and VW to just offer practicality or efficiency.

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Our four-door duo drive well, look the part, promise generous kit and strong refinement and emit low levels of CO2 in an attempt to lure company car drivers and private buyers out of their SUVs.

The question is, are the improvements that Mazda has made to its 6 saloon enough to deliver a knockout blow to the new class leader, the Passat? To find out, we pitched Japan against Germany in a head-to-head tussle from which there can only be one winner. The gloves are off.

Mazda 6 review

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VW Passat review

Click on the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which car comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Infotainment

Even though the Mazda has a new multimedia layout, it’s still not quite as easy to use as Volkswagen’s tried-and-tested touchscreen system. The 6 now includes a parking camera (above) as standard, and everything’s controlled by a rotary wheel behind the gearlever. It’s undoubtedly a vast improvement over the old car, and tidies up the dash – making the cabin look far more slick and upmarket. 

Standard kit

Both these models get a decent level of kit as standard, making them appealing to business users. But while the Mazda has a higher list price, it offers much more kit; to bring the Passat up to a similar spec will make it nearly £2,000 more than the 6. VW options can be pricey; leather alone is £1,615.

Boot space

If you’re heading on a big trip, the Passat is the more practical choice, as its luggage bay has a more usable shape. It also gets an electric tailgate with keyless opening (£510). If your hands are full with shopping bags, you can wave your foot under the rear bumper and open the boot.

Verdict

1st place: Volkswagen Passat

The Passat retains its crown as the biggest and best family saloon on the market, thanks to a mix of quality, usability, refinement and performance that’s impossible to ignore. It can’t match the Mazda’s dynamics or fun factor, but it does come close. Plus, it offers competitive running costs for a premium product, a fair level of standard kit and an attractive price that’s £1,660 cheaper than the 6’s.

2nd place: Mazda 6

Despite its much-improved interior and more involving chassis, the refreshed 6 can’t quite topple the Passat. It’s still the best car in its class to drive, with plenty of performance and grip to call on, but it doesn’t blend this with the level of practicality that the VW offers. Still, if you value driving enjoyment over space, you won’t be disappointed with the revised Mazda.

Key specs:

 VW Passat 2.0 TDI (150) SE BusinessMazda 6 2.2 175 Sport Nav
On-the-road price/total as tested£25,135/£30,250£26,795/£28,315
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£11,537/45.9%£11,286/42%
Depreciation£13,598£15,509
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,027/£2,053£1,067/£2,134
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,361,£2,268£1,238/£2,063
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost19/£397/B/£2023/£371/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£288 (2yrs)£172/£233/£236
   
Length/wheelbase4,767/2,791mm4,870/2,830mm
Height/width1,456/1,832mm1,450/1,840mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,968cc4cyl in-line/2,191cc
Peak power148/3,600 bhp/rpm173/4,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque340/1,750 Nm/rpm420/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel66 litres/space saver62 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)586/1,152 litres483/1,632 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,475/620/2,000kg1,487/540/1,600kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.7 metres/N/A11.8 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/22312.5k miles (1yr)/170
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.19th/31st8th/12th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars85/87/66/592/77/66/5
   
0-60/30-70mph8.7/7.7 seconds8.2/7.4 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.5/6.1 seconds3.2/4.7 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th7.5/10.2 seconds6.0/8.4 seconds
Top speed/rpm at 70mph136mph/1,850rpm139mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph51.4/37.2/9.7m48.9/36.8/8.9m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph67/54/57/64dB68/55/65/73dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range46.4/10.2/674 miles51.0/11.2/696 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined60.1/78.5/70.6mpg51.4/72.4/62.8mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined13.2/17.3/15.5mpl11.3/15.9/13.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket163/106g/km/17%148/119g/km/19%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraNine/yes/yes/£310Six/yes/yes/yes
Auto. box/stability/adap. cruise control£1,600/yes/yes£1,200/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seats£590/£1,615/£280Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£540/£705/yes£540/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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