Mazda 6 driven
A compelling Passat and Mondeo alternative. But not without fault...
Posted: 30 Jan 2013
Why should I bother with this, when there's a good Ford and VW that are roughly the same size, roughly the same shape and roughly the same cost?
Good question. And one Mazda has clearly put a lot of thought into. At 1,405kg, the all-new 6 is light (around 100kg less than an equivalent Ford Mondeo), it'll manage a ridiculous 67.3 miles to the gallon with the six-speed manual (1.6 more than the Ford), emit 108g/km CO2 (1 g/km less than the VW Passat), and, because of its low weight, the 148bhp engine gets it to 62mph in a respectable 9.0 seconds, 3.2 seconds faster than the VW.
That's really impressive. How has Mazda managed that?
The impressive stuff is largely thanks to a raft of innovations Mazda has developed under its SkyActiv umbrella. The 2.2-litre two-stage turbo engine has an extremely low 14:1 compression ratio, and an optional capacitor-based brake regeneration system called i-ELOOP, which powers the electricals, meaning the engine doesn't have to.
Eh? Compression ratio? Sounds like meaningless geek-talk to me.
Watch yourself, youngster. It's actually important stuff. In short, a low compression ratio means less strain on the engine, so lighter internals can be used, which helps fuel economy.
Egg on my face.
So there is.
So, what else?
There's a stiffer and lighter body shell, so it actually has a game stab at handling properly. The ride's relatively firm, but you won't have to get your sports bra out - there's hardly any body roll considering it's a big saloon, but it's forgiving when the road surface isn't. The steering feels the right amount of heavy, and the gear ratios are tight, but not too race-car for motorway use.
Sold to the man with egg on his face!
Hold on a sec - it's not all sweetness and light. The interior is deeply, deeply boring.
Yeah, really. It's not that it feels cheap or nasty - the stuff you touch is all pretty soft and lovely. And the infotainment equipment's decent (especially the optional 11-speaker Bose stereo), but it looks so dreary. Especially considering how striking it is on the outside.
Better cancel the order, then.
By all means, but it's still a very good car. It handles a LOT better than a Passat, burns less fuel than a Mondeo (the cleanest is 65.7mpg), and it's considerably more engaging to drive. I'd go as far to say that it's fun enough to trouble low-spec BMWs and Mercs, and you'll get a lot more for your money.
I'm confused - are you recommending this or not?
Yes. And no. It's still a big Mazda, so you'll have to ask yourself how much the badge on the front is worth. And if you can live with the dull interior. They're the only two sticking points.
2191cc, 4cyl diesel, 148bhp, 206lb ft, 67.3mpg, 108g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 9.0 secs, 131mph, 1405kg, £21,795