From £19,595
The new Mazda 6 is a good all-round package on this first acquaintance, but doesn’t feel quite as sporty as claimed

What is it?

Mazda’s outgoing 6 won over plenty of fans with its sporty driving qualities and distinctive styling. Now the Japanese manufacturer is after more of the same, with a new saloon and estate that follow the Mazda CX-5 in receiving the firm’s SkyActiv suite of weight saving measures and efficiency tech.

With the A-pillar shunted 100mm rearwards, and a bluff, sharply creased nose, the new 6 has the look of a car with a long bonnet and a fastback rear. It’s a distinctive car, certainly, but inevitably a portion of the rakish allure possessed by the Takeri concept that preceded it has been lost in translation.

Even so, Mazda has managed to bring the new 6 to market nearly 100kg below a Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi hatchback, so the concentration on high strength steels and careful material placement has paid dividends.

First drive review: 2013 Mazda 6 Tourer

What's it like?

Inside, the noticeable use of soft touch plastics in certain places and a cosy cockpit feel are plus points, but the design cohesion is slightly undermined in places. The mix of fonts and colours for the displays is messy, the placement of minor switchgear is apparently random and the TomTom sat-nav's physical integration into the dashboard lacks sophistication, as does its on-screen graphics.

Even so, the driving position is good, and there’s plenty of room in the second row of seats, including excellent headroom - surprising given that arching roofline.

The most entertaining aspect of driving the new 6 is the short-throw, nicely mechanical gear lever action, much like the one in the Mazda MX-5. A noticeably firm ride quality sets a sporting tone to the car the moment you drive off, with the standard 19-inch wheels of the Sport making their presence felt as well.

Sadly, the steering fails to match these sporting pretention. It never builds any real weight the further you turn, and it feels slightly disconnected around the straight-ahead.

It’s a pity, because while the 6 is entirely competent on the road, it isn’t that entertaining to drive, despite the billing. On this brief acquaintance, you’d still take a Mondeo over it for a demanding drive. It also remains to be seen how that firm ride will translate to UK roads.

The entry-level 148bhp version of the SkyActiv 2.2-litre diesel engine has an unusually low compression ratio of 14:1 (shared with the petrol engine, in which it becomes a very high figure). Its refinement is acceptable, particularly when warmed through, and it delivers its considerable 280lb ft of torque in a linear and broad spread – at least by diesel standards – and without any noticeable lag. There will also be a 173bhp version of the same engine, with 310lb ft of torque.

Should I buy one?

Perhaps, but it's the 6’s stats that may prove to be its winning hand. Combined fuel consumption of 68.9mpg and C02 emissions of 108g/km for this 148bhp version beats a Mondeo 2.0 TDCi (53.3mpg and 129g/km) and it sits two tax bands lower, where it matches the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics (109g/km and 68.9mpg).

The 6’s figures are set to improve further still to 72.4mpg and 104g/km from production next April, with the adoption of a longer final drive ratio, reduced rolling-resistance tyres and an ECU remap. The prototype we drove was more or less comparable to Sport trim, which although well equipped, lists at £900 more than the equivalent Ford – although clearly it should prove cheaper to own and run.

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Adam Towler

Mazda 6 Saloon Sport Nav 2.2 150 SKYACTIV-D

Price £25,595; 0-62mph 9.0sec; Top speed 131mph; Economy 68.9mpg; CO2 108g/km; Kerb weight 1,480kg; Engine 4-cyl inline, turbodiesel, 2,191cc; Installation front, transverse; Power 148bhp at 4,500rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 2,000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

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Tailor 19 November 2012

It Runs

I've tried this car as an estate in the Netherlands and it is a cracker. I have been test driving about 60 different cars in the last year for a German publicist and I feel this one is not getting the full dues that it deserves.

internally, the Mazda really hits the spot. Comfortable to the levels you would expect from any of the German competitors. The suspension in my opinion is as mentioned firm but it does fit perfectly to the vehicle as a whole. There is nothing to complain about it, even on bad Dutch roads which really are as bad as our roads in the UK without much trouble. Seating is good, especially in the back where we are getting plenty of room, even for those above six foot. The tidy and oversightly arranged cockpit is a match for anything German, I would even venture to say it's outstanding. The boot is large and the boot cover is clever, even having a place to stow it underneath if you choose.

Design is something that Mazda have got spot on this time. The Kodo design looks much more accomplished on the 6 than on the already impressive looking CX-5. 

The engines are great. The petrol is good and quite enjoyable but the 2.2 diesel is without a doubt one of the best diesels out there, especially if you consider the Euro6. It may be the best four cylinder on the market at this time.

overall, this one deserves every extra bit of attention. This is the first Mazda I am excited by. Well done Mazda, that car is a great piece of engineering.

Millerttl 8 October 2012

    RE:Yes this somewhat true



RE:Yes this somewhat true - but the previous 6 did have a slight tendency to need "steering" in the straight ahead position, the autobox is much better for drivability but that possibly would change the emmission numbers??? I still dont like the front - looks like it was an after thought, and it is a pity they have not got the buttons and dials to gell properly because the old 6 was rather a nice place to be in. Still great value though[quote]



 It just seems to me that Autocar are extremely biased towards the upmarket brands and therefore are reluctant to give anything non german a decent review. The styling is a more premium approach to the current gen 6 in my eyes but I guess without seeing on in the metal its hard to grasp it fully. The CX-5 looks horrendous in pictures but physically its a lovely looking car.

Will86 7 October 2012

Where's the Hatchback?

I don't understand the ever decreasing numbers of hatchbacks in the family car sector. I don't want a bulky estate, but I also don't want to post things through the letter box opening that you get with a saloon boot. I hoped the appearance of the Audi Sportbacks would make hatches cool again, but alas it seems not. Now the choice of family hatches is confined to a Mondeo or Insignia.