What is it?
This is the estate version of Mazda's new 6. The outgoing 6 was a favourite among retail buyers, and that’s surely where this petrol-powered version of its elegant new Tourer will find a home.
To these eyes at least, the Tourer is more successful than the saloon at carrying over the ‘Kodo’ design language from concept to production, looking far more like a modish, ‘premium’ shooting brake than utilitarian load-lugger.
But the rakish design and narrow strip of glasshouse have not been achieved at the expense of load space: with 522-1632 litres (depending on the seat configuration) the new 6 is comfortably in the zone for expected useable space, if slightly short of the cavernous Ford Mondeo's 549/1740 litres.
First drive review: 2013 Mazda 6 saloon
What's it like?
Mazda claims a 10 per cent reduction in weight for its new Skyactiv-G petrol engine family, with a choice of 143bhp and 163bhp variants, the more powerful version being tested here. The key detail is the phenomenally 14:1 high compression ratio that it shares with the 2.2-litre diesel in the range.
The petrol-powered Mazda 6 Tourer enjoys a 100kg weight reduction compared to the 2.2-litre diesel version (an impressive 1395kg overall), but in reality you’d trade every last one of those kilograms for the brawnier and much more refined oil-burning option.
The petrol engine’s hum-drum torque peak of 155lb ft is developed at the same 4000rpm point as its peak power, and as you might expect it lacks the effortless shove of the 2.2-litre diesel. This wouldn’t matter too much if the petrol engine had a smooth delivery, but use plenty of revs and it betrays its presence with a gruff, harsh note that sounds more than a little laboured.
Neither is it any firebrand in terms of performance, and predictably you have to use plenty of revs to really get it moving. Fine – save the sound effects – but it’s hard to see it being possible to match the superb on-paper combined fuel economy figure of 47.9mpg when driven in such a manner.
If the lighter petrol 6 has the edge in driving manners over the diesel model then it’s not easy to detect based on this brief initial drive. Some of that is due to the disappointing steering on what is billed as a sporty car, which is always light and lacks incisiveness around the straight ahead. The ride is firm, with fairly aggressive rebound damping over larger intrusions, but the gearshift is a real joy, offering a tight, snappy change.
Should I buy one?
The new 6 Tourer is an attractively styled estate car with a practical cabin of decent quality, attractive design in most parts and impressive specification, but it is less rewarding to drive than we hoped.
And while those who insist on petrol power will naturally gravitate towards this model, it makes far more sense to opt for diesel power.