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.
There are four trim levels to choose from regardless of whether you choose the saloon or the estate. Opt for the entry-level SE trim and you'll find 17in alloy wheels, hill-start assist, electric windows and cruise control. Inside there is a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with DAB and smartphone capability, air conditioning, and a leather wrapped steering wheel and gearknob. Upgrade to SE Nav and as you would expect there is the inclusion of sat nav and three-year worth of map updates.
SE-L Nav adds a touch more luxury to the big Mazda 6, with dual-zone climate control, all round parking sensors and an auto-dimming rear view mirror all part of the package, while the range-topping Sport Nav models include adaptive LED headlights, 19in alloy wheels and a reversing camera. Inside buyers will get a leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, a head-up display, and a Bose sound system.
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.