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.