• 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

Credibility and respectability abound. The 6’s driving experience is among the class best, with a sense of engagement and involvement rare in family cars. It delivers impressive space and economy, too.

But there are elements to the Mazda’s interior that are disappointingly ordinary, to the extent that some of the perceived budget brands give it a run. Which seems a big shame, given its otherwise broad wide appeal.

The Mazda 6 is now closer than ever to upsetting the established class leaders

Nevertheless, the 6 is oh-so-close to the class lead; its economy and driving manners had us wondering whether it ought to finish even higher up the order than it does. For keener drivers, unequivocally it will.

Entry-level diesels offer a compelling blend of performance and power that is hard to criticise. However, if you are tempted by the 173bhp diesel, we would strongly recommend it. The petrols are decent, but no more – we’d recommend sampling turbocharged rivals before committing.

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