First DriveThis range-topping Mazda 6 Saloon gets better engine refinement and chassis tweaks; it remains a strong contender in the class
First DriveMazda 6 gets dynamic, refinement and equipment upgrades for its second facelift. It feels every bit as competent as before – but no more so
What is it?
The Mazda 6 2.2D is the latest version of the Japanese Mondeo-rival, equipped with an all-new 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine. The new common-rail unit features a variable-vane turbocharger, an aluminium lower block and relatively high injector pressure, but a low compression ratio (16.3:1, if you’re interested).
The new motor is available in three guises: a 123bhp/ 229lb ft version, a mid-range 161bhp/ 265lb ft unit and a range-topper that’s tuned to 182bhp and 295lb ft. It’s the mid-range engine that we’re sampling here.
What’s it like?
On the road, the new motor feels smooth during relaxed driving, and Mazda’s claimed 0-62mph figure of 9.2sec is entirely plausible. Peak torque is available from 1800rpm (there’s quite a steep drop-off beneath that figure, mind) and the spread goes through to 3000rpm. By 4000rpm you’re wasting your time - which is just as well, because the engine becomes a bit more vocal when thrashed.
For the most part, though, Mazda has done a good job of noise supression, with only a distant thrum from the engine and minimal wind noise. The motor is far more accomplished than the old 2.0-litre unit.
It’s a decent steer, too; the 6’s steering still has that pleasing grainy linearity, and the chassis and body don’t mind rapid changes of direction. The six-speed manual gearbox feels solid and precise, providing you’re positive with every shift.
The 6’s cabin is comfortable, and while the dashboard is a pretty sombre affair, that may suit some buyers turned off by the ‘chrome plastic’ that’s plastered over some rivals. Mazda has tweaked the spec lists for the revised range, introducing blind-spot assist as an option and a new range-topping SL that includes full leather, a BOSE surround sound system, 18in alloys, front and rear parking sensors and bi-xenon headlamps.
Should I buy one?
The 6 is still not quite as accomplished as the Mondeo - the subtlety of the Ford’s damping sees to that - but it runs it pretty damn close, and the 6’s new engine makes a persuasive argument in other areas. The new 2.2-litre motor is a massive step forward for Mazda, and it’s good enough to put the 6 back into contention.