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.

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
    29 May 2015
    New compact Vauxhall shows lots of promise, but sluggish performance and intrusive road noise leave it trailing its rivals
  • First Drive
    28 May 2015
    BMW's luxurious coupé has been given a style refresh and more equipment. This is our first chance to drive the popular 640d Coupe on UK roads
  • First Drive
    28 May 2015
    We drive Ssangyong's new small SUV, which isn't up with the best in class but is certainly worth consideration as a budget option
  • Car review
    26 May 2015
    Hardcore 493bhp GT3 RS represents a new level for the Porsche 911 - faint hearts need not apply
  • First Drive
    25 May 2015
    Track drive of Lamborghini's astonishing limited-run special, the Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce