Whether you drive the petrol or the diesel, the Mazda 6 settles into an idle so muted that you’d be forgiven for wondering which engine is under the bonnet. The diesel is unusually refined, while the petrol purrs with a barely distinguishable thrum.

Moving off in one of the diesels you’ll note that it shirks the usual low-rev tardiness associated with oil-burners, too. In both states of tune, the engine responds to a push on the right pedal with pleasing linearity.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Throttle response is excellent, with little of the low-rev tardiness that characterises turbodiesel engines

The petrols are reasonable, if not as outstanding as the diesels. The lower-powered unit borders on sluggish, and does not suit the pseudo-sporting characteristics of the 6 as well as the rest of the engine range.

The higher-powered petrol delivers decent pace, but gets especially vocal as revs climb. All but low-mileage drivers would do well to consider paying the premium for a diesel and reaping the economy and performance benefits.

Mazda's SkyActiv diesel engine revs willingly to more than 5500rpm too, giving rangey performance in each gear. Work the engine hard and the 6 eventually starts to overlay its performance with dieselly tones, but they are a sacrifice we’re willing to accept because of the nature of the delivery.

But it’s in-gear flexibility that counts for more here, and it’s pretty acceptable in this respect, too - although lengthy gearing means you might want to approach brisk acceleration in a lower gear than usual.

Fortunately, Mazda's six-speed manual gearbox is light and positive, allowing for swift changes, while the six-speed auto does a decent (if slightly less involving or pleasing) job of changing gears. The control pedals have well-matched weighting and predictable responses, making the 6 an easy car in which to pootle around.

Top 5 Family saloons

  • The Ford Mondeo is a well developed all-rounder that shines with its handling and finish

    Ford Mondeo 2007-2014

    1
  • 15 million VW Passats have been sold in 100 countries since its launch in 1973

    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
  • Hyundai i40
    Family-size Hyundai takes on the Mondeo, Superb and Insignia

    Hyundai i40

    5

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