From £17,5858
This range-topping Mazda 6 Saloon gets better engine refinement and chassis tweaks; it remains a strong contender in the class

Our Verdict

Mazda 6

The Mazda 6 is a Ford Mondeo rival with rakish styling and lightweight, low-emissions tech

Doug Revolta Autocar
10 October 2016

What is it?

The Mazda 6 Saloon was only facelifted last year, but the Japanese manufacturer has seen fit to deliver another nip and tuck to add tech and improve refinement.

The main addition is G-Vectoring Control, or GVC. It might sound like a hopeful X-Factor boyband, but GVC is a system designed to help cornering and high-speed stability, and it’s being rolled out on every new Mazda 6 - in time every Mazda will get it. Other tweaks to the 6 for 2016 include better engine refinement and a more positive throttle response.

Cars in this segment need to keep fresh to stop buyers flocking to SUVs, and there’s plenty of competition for the Mazda 6 in the form of the Ford Mondeo, Skoda Superb, and Volkswagen Passat - even if they are all more practical than fun.

What's it like?

GVC is a subtle addition rather than a revelation. It uses minuscule changes in engine torque output when turning into a bend to move the weight of the car forward over the front tyres and help them grip harder, reducing steering corrections along the way.

In action, though, GVC is pretty much unnoticeable, and you’d need to drive it back to back numerous times with a non-GVC Mazda 6 to tell the difference. Also, any greater high-speed comfort was difficult to measure on our test car because it was fitted with 19in alloys. The ride was still fairly compliant, but experience tells us that on smaller wheels it’s much better.

GVC may not necessarily add much to the driving experience that's noticeable, but the Mazda 6 still turns in keenly and the handling is pretty tight. It’s one of the better handling cars in the class, if still not quite as good as a Ford Mondeo.

The more noticeable tweak in this latest Mazda 6 is engine refinement. The 2.2-litre diesel engine in our carl is the most powerful in the range and delivers its power smoothly and now slightly more quietly than before. Once settled down at higher speeds refinement is very good, and even when you plant your foot down engine noise only becomes unpleasant when pushed very hard. 

It's quick, too, making light work of B-road overtakes and motorway journeys, while the slick six-speed manual gearbox is great to use, with a fast and positive action that’s up there with the best in class. Turbo lag has been improved on for this facelift, but that - like GVC - is pretty subtle. It wasn’t a huge problem before though, so this engine - which is the most powerful of the range - pulls stoutly from low revs.

Sport Nav trim it’s a pretty lavish affair, with Mazda’s easy-to-use infotainment system a clear highlight. Its layout is simple, there’s no problem using it on the move, and is only surpassed by systems from the like of Audi and BMW. Perceived quality of the switchgear and materials inside are also strong. It’s fairly practical too, with good space for four adults, although a Mondeo and Superb will seat in even more comfort. 

Sport Nav is the range-topper and now comes with a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, a heated steering wheel and electric memory seats at no extra cost from before. But still the best value is entry-level SE which gets air-con, 17in alloys, cruise control and a 7.0in touchscreen system.

 

Should I buy one?

The Mazda 6 remains a decently spacious saloon that’s good to drive, which is rare among family cars. This top-spec 6 comes with a brilliant level of equipment and has a strong engine to boot, but a Mondeo remains better to drive, and a Superb has better interior space and quality still. 

Bear in mind that the closest equivalently powerful and trimmed diesel versions of those cars cost more, so if diesel pace is a priority, then this engine is a good bet within the wider class. Even so, we’d sooner point you in the direction of a Skoda Superb if your budget can stretch to it, it being the better all-rounder.

If you're sold on a 6, though, Mazda's 148bhp 2.2 diesel engine is cheaper to buy, more fuel efficient and still offers more than adequate performance, while entry-level SE trim is really all you'll ever need.

2016 Mazda 6 Saloon 2.2 Skyactiv-D 175 Saloon

Location Feltham, Middlesex; On Sale Now; Price £26,795; Engine 4 cyls, 2191cc, diesel; Power 174bhp at 4500rpm; Torque 310lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1590kg; 0-62mph 7.9sec; Top speed 139mph; Economy 62.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 119g/km, 18% Rivals Ford Mondeo, Skoda Superb

Join the debate

Comments
8

10 October 2016
"we’d sooner point you in the direction of a Skoda Superb if your budget can stretch to it, it being the better all-rounder".Quote
Well, if it is going to be used as a mini-cab then the Skoda is a better bet.More space, though less fun, less reliability (VW software..)
If you like driving, the Mazda is the only choice though.

10 October 2016
Uncle Mellow wrote:

"less reliability (VW software..)
If you like driving, the Mazda is the only choice though.

?

10 October 2016
Have to agree. Have a 2014 Mazda 6 Platinum (Sport SE in UK I think) and have to say there are only two things that I can fault - road noise on 19s and interior dashboard design (addressed on revised model). After that I can honestly say I would never pick new Mondeo over it and whilst I like new Passat I think it is very over rated. My 150 bhp Mazda is far more refined in the engine department than the VW and is a much better drive. Would be a huge omission to not test drive one if in the market for traditional competitors but also competitors from class above...

10 October 2016
Have to agree. Have a 2014 Mazda 6 Platinum (Sport SE in UK I think) and have to say there are only two things that I can fault - road noise on 19s and interior dashboard design (addressed on revised model). After that I can honestly say I would never pick new Mondeo over it and whilst I like new Passat I think it is very over rated. My 150 bhp Mazda is far more refined in the engine department than the VW and is a much better drive. Would be a huge omission to not test drive one if in the market for traditional competitors but also competitors from class above...

db

10 October 2016
I would go as far as to say its the best car I have ever had and I haven't got this updated model obviously. To me the engine already has enough grunt and is smooth and sounds great when extended (and it does like to rev if you want too with no sharp fall off of power top end like other diesels. I would only mark it down for it being a touch longer than it needs to be (blame the US market for that). Perceived quality (what ever that means to you) I am sure wont be up to the badge snobs standards but I haven't needed to visit the dealer as I did with pervious BMW Audi Volvo and VW's that I have had. Well built,economical,Fun to drive nicely styled copiously equipped (try specking other cars up to Sport NAV and watch your residuals go through the floor!)

11 October 2016
db wrote:

(try specking other cars up to Sport NAV and watch your residuals go through the floor!)

Not sure about the residuals, Motorpoint are selling this exact model with 6,000 miles (65 plate) on for £17,000 including metallic paint. That's a loss of over £10,000 on a year

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

11 October 2016
putting 19 inch wheels on a car which was designed for 18's just plain daft - Botoxed rubber doesnt help in any direction except esthetically if you want to be different. Drove a skyactive (I had two previous 6's) recently and was blown away with boot space (great for taxi's and family holidays) and the down right pleasure of driving it and not having to sit on the edge of my seat to get what I wanted out of it.
Mind you I still prefer petrol and 8 speed auto which is where Mazda slip up with only a 6 speed autobox - which by the way is good).
Tip for all auto users. When waiting in traffic or at the lights (keeping the footbrake on of course) put the car in N. Saves petrol and saves a lot of wear on the box. Do this and you will get 250-300,000 miles from the Mazda auto (I know I did it) without damages or repair bills - should apply to all auto boxes really

what's life without imagination

db

11 October 2016
When I got my car there was zero finance over 42 months £2500 contribution to finance and I got a generous over allowance on my previous car so the figures stacked up for me. The bottom line is how the figures work out for each individual I didn't want an Audi BMW rep mobile. The difference is Mazda are willing to give a package like this to private buyers the others are only interested in fleets and make their money out of private buyers (smoke and mirrors).If you look at the deals for finance from "prestige cars makers" they give with one hand and take with the other.

db

11 October 2016
When I got my car there was zero finance over 42 months £2500 contribution to finance and I got a generous over allowance on my previous car so the figures stacked up for me. The bottom line is how the figures work out for each individual I didn't want an Audi BMW rep mobile. The difference is Mazda are willing to give a package like this to private buyers the others are only interested in fleets and make their money out of private buyers (smoke and mirrors).If you look at the deals for finance from "prestige cars makers" they give with one hand and take with the other.

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