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.

Top 5 Family saloons

  • Ford Mondeo
    Ford's new Mondeo is offered in hatchback and estate body styles

    Ford Mondeo

    1
  • The new Volkswagen Passat is now in its eighth generation

    Volkswagen Passat

    2
  • New Mazda 6 largely carries over the styling of the striking Takeri concept that previewed it

    Mazda 6

    3
  • Skoda Octavia
    The Octavia name dates back to 1959

    Skoda Octavia

    4
  • Vauxhall Insignia
    Vauxhall's traditional family saloon is regular UK class sales champion

    Vauxhall Insignia

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Mazda range

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The DS 5 is hard to pigeonhole but it works as a package. Impressive French-style long-range cruiser, albeit at strong money for an unproven brand
  • Car review
    21 May 2015
    The industry's biggest power makes a plug-in hybrid for the masses
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The 4C improves, and the Spider is a good conversion, but it remains dynamically troubled and absurdly expensive
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    More traction and nothing separating Jag's monstrous V8 mouthpiece from your ears. It's the shoutiest, priciest F-Type on sale, but is it the best?
  • First Drive
    20 May 2015
    The C63 may have lost its big V8, but its replacement makes it difficult to mourn