Sitting in the Mazda 6, it seems a shame that little of the imaginative but unseen engineering work is reflected in the cabin.
The interior architecture is carried over almost wholesale from the Mazda CX-5, and squashing it into a slimmer saloon interior has not helped lift its rather dingy appearance. If anything, the dashboard’s lumpy discord and undistinguished fascia materials are even more conspicuous in a segment moving steadily upmarket.
We have few issues with its functionality, though. From easily legible dials to the chunky click of the heater controls, the Mazda 6 feels like a car built to resist uncaring high-mile punishment.
The only exception is the multimedia system, which, thanks to a dull screen and clunky menus, is tiresome to interact with and persists with needlessly replicated touchscreen options.
The substantial wheelbase means there’s an abundance of rear legroom. It’s not class-leading (the Skoda Superb sees to that), but it’s within touching distance.
In the saloon there’s a similarly impressive 483-litre boot, which can be extended by dropping the rear seats. That rises to 506 litres in the Tourer model, or a substantial 1632 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Both saloon and estate are roomy up front, too, and the standard six-way adjustable driver’s seat top-spec models keeps comfort levels respectable. The 6's equipment levels are comprehensive too, with even the entry-level models coming with niceties including air-con, cruise control, USB connectivity, electric mirrors, front fogs and alloy wheels.
The result is a car with the fundamental bases covered – it’s a usable, spacious and unstressed environment, but not one that competes with the presentation or quality of rivals such as the VW Passat, or even affordable alternatives newcomers like the Hyundai i40.