As soon as you swing open the Mazda 6’s door, you wonder if this car will be on to something good when it comes to ride and handling. The door moves with ease, suggesting that it’s light, which makes you wonder if dynamics will benefit accordingly.

Indeed they do. Light cars can exhibit a lack of refinement – including some Japanese cars, due to a prevalence of lower-speed, well surfaced roads there – but the 6 is no great culprit. In all forms it feels only mildly less cocooned and isolated than a Volkswagen Passat or a Ford Mondeo, for example.

Matt Saunders

Deputy road test editor
The new 6 is a pleasing and engaging steer with a sharp-turn in that's unusual for the class

We suspect the choice of cabin materials is as much to blame as actual noise levels, and the petrol-equipped cars are quieter than even the refined diesels.

The ride is acceptable in all models and across all types of road. Our test cars ran on 19-inch wheels with 45-section tyres and those prioritising ride comfort might prefer a car on smaller wheels. During our tests there was some grumble over poorer surfaces, but that improved with speed and was never crashy.

The 6 is nimble for a car of its size, though, regardless of whether you opt for the estate or saloon. The electrically assisted steering spins with medium weight, good response and accuracy and a decent approximation of feel, while body movements are contained with aplomb.

So, Mazda's 6 is as composed as a Ford Mondeo, but with a fleet-footedness that the sturdier Ford can’t equal.

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
    27 March 2015
    Lavishly-equipped, rugged-looking Peugeot 508 estate is a pleasant drive, but there are many more recommendable alternatives
  • 308 GT 1.6-litre petrol is priced from £24,095
    First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Peugeot's given the 308 the engine from the 208 GTi 30th and some chassis upgrades; we find out if the changes bring a bit of old-school Peugeot hot-hatch magic to this likeable family hatch.
  • Car review
    26 March 2015
    Does Suzuki's new city runabout have what it takes to succeed?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    Collins Performance has given the Fiesta ST 270bhp and 265lb ft, but has our favourite fast Ford been ruined in the process?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    The Seat Leon X-Perience is the closest thing to an SUV that you can buy with a Seat badge for now, blending estate practicality with off-road ability