What is it?
Mazda’s outgoing 6 won over plenty of fans with its sporty driving qualities and distinctive styling. Now the Japanese manufacturer is after more of the same, with a new saloon and estate that follow the CX-5 in receiving the firm’s SkyActiv suite of weight saving measures and efficiency tech.
With the A-pillar shunted 100mm rearwards, and a bluff, sharply creased nose, the new 6 has the look of a car with a long bonnet and a fastback rear. It’s a distinctive car, certainly, but inevitably a portion of the rakish allure possessed by the Takeri concept that preceded it has been lost in translation.
Even so, Mazda has managed to bring the new 6 to market nearly 100kg below a Mondeo 2.0 TDCi hatchback, so the concentration on high strength steels and careful material placement has paid dividends.
First drive review: 2013 Mazda 6 Tourer
What is it like?
Inside, the noticeable use of soft touch plastics in certain places and a cosy cockpit feel are plus points, but the design cohesion is slightly undermined in places. The mix of fonts and colours for the displays is messy, the placement of minor switchgear is apparently random and the TomTom sat-nav's physical integration into the dashboard lacks sophistication, as does its on-screen graphics.
Even so, the driving position is good, and there’s plenty of room in the second row of seats, including excellent headroom - surprising given that arching roofline.
The most entertaining aspect of driving the new 6 is the short-throw, nicely mechanical gear lever action, much like the one in the MX-5. A noticeably firm ride quality sets a sporting tone to the car the moment you drive off, with the standard 19-inch wheels of the Sport making their presence felt as well.
Sadly, the steering fails to match these sporting pretention. It never builds any real weight the further you turn, and it feels slightly disconnected around the straight-ahead.
It’s a pity, because while the 6 is entirely competent on the road, it isn’t that entertaining to drive, despite the billing. On this brief acquaintance, you’d still take a Mondeo over it for a demanding drive. It also remains to be seen how that firm ride will translate to UK roads.
The entry-level 148bhp version of the SkyActiv 2.2-litre diesel engine has an unusually low compression ratio of 14:1 (shared with the petrol engine, in which it becomes a very high figure). Its refinement is acceptable, particularly when warmed through, and it delivers its considerable 280lb ft of torque in a linear and broad spread – at least by diesel standards – and without any noticeable lag. There will also be a 173bhp version of the same engine, with 310lb ft of torque.
Should I buy one?
Perhaps, but it's the 6’s stats that may prove to be its winning hand. Combined fuel consumption of 68.9mpg and C02 emissions of 108g/km for this 148bhp version beats a Mondeo 2.0 TDCi (53.3mpg and 129g/km) and it sits two tax bands lower, where it matches the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics (109g/km and 68.9mpg).
The 6’s figures are set to improve further still to 72.4mpg and 104g/km from production next April, with the adoption of a longer final drive ratio, reduced rolling-resistance tyres and an ECU remap. The prototype we drove was more or less comparable to Sport trim, which although well equipped, lists at £900 more than the equivalent Ford – although clearly it should prove cheaper to own and run.
Mazda 6 Saloon Sport Nav 2.2 150 SKYACTIV-D
Price £25,595; 0-62mph 9.0sec; Top speed 131mph; Economy 68.9mpg; CO2 108g/km; Kerb weight 1,480kg; Engine 4-cyl inline, turbodiesel, 2,191cc; Installation front, transverse; Power 148bhp at 4,500rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 2,000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual