• New Mazda 6 largely carries over the styling of the striking Takeri concept that previewed it
  • Three character lines echo each other as your eye passes backwards along the flank of the car
  • Tail lights have been designed to emphasise the width of the car
  • Shield grille has been toned down from the original Takeri concept car
  • Halo rings in the headlamp clusters mimic those on the BMW 3-series
  • Estate versions are sleekly styled
  • Interior is well laid out with a good driving position
  • Infotainment system is incomprehensible
  • i-Drive style rotary dial works well, but is flanked by too many unnecessary buttons
  • 489-litre boot is shallow but unusually long
  • Steering column could do with a bit more reach adjustment
  • Headroom is tighter than legroom, but both are adequate
  • The 6 estate offers plenty of rear space
  • Substantial 506-litre boot, in estate versions, should be more than adequate for most
  • Diesel motor impresses with its performance end economy
  • 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine develops 173bhp at 4500rpm
  • Estate versions perform just as well as saloon models
  • Mazda 6 feels light - and it is - weighing 100kg less than a Ford Mondeo
  • Body control is good and makes for an entertaining drive
  • The Mazda 6 estate handles as well as the saloon
  • Engaging dynamics and fine economy put the Mazda 6 back in contention
  • The estate version of the 6 is an appealing alternative to rivals like the Ford Mondeo

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.

Matt Saunders

Deputy road test editor
It took four attempts to program the sat-nav via voice control for the nearest hospital. Not a good system for your hour of need

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.

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