The Mazda 6 is not an obvious choice. Simply because it’s a fun saloon. Yep, you read that right. In a market of saloons and estate cars dominated by BMW and Mercedes, the Mazda 6 stands out as a good-looking, fun-driving alternative. Add in Japanese reliability and build quality, and you’ll wonder why more don’t choose it.
Mazda has its own unique take on design that’s both elegant and sporty without being overtly flashy. The carmaker calls it ‘Kodo’, which means Soul of Motion. The idea is that its cars look like they’re moving, even when they’re standing still. Whether you see that or not, the Mazda 6 is a handsome and sleek saloon or hatch and an even smarter estate.
There’s a long, low bonnet and sculpted front flanks leading into a subtly surfaced side profile. A large grill and slim headlights give it a sporty feel. It looks especially good in Mazda’s special Soul Red Crystal paintwork which really pops when the light hits it.
The idea is that its cars look like they’re moving, even when they’re stood still.
What’s it like to drive?
Mazda is the company that came up with the world’s best-selling roadster – the little Mazda MX-5. Every car Mazda makes is claimed to have the soul of a sports car – and the Mazda 6 is no exception.
It really is a fun car to drive at any speed. While not riotously fast, it has delicate fine-tuned steering that makes it eager in the corners with a suspension that controls body movement – without being harsh and uncompromising.
Petrol and diesel engines are available and a slick-shifting six-speed manual or automatic are your choices when it comes to the gearbox.
Every car Mazda makes is claimed to have the soul of a sports car - and the Mazda 6 is no exception.
The subtle good looks of the Mazda 6’s exterior carry over to its cabin. There’s a pleasing simplicity to the interior design with a focus on the driver. You feel like the car wraps around you and centres your attention on the road. The all-round visibility is excellent, the dials are simple and easy to read and the switchgear is simple to operate.
Mazda eschews touchscreen controls for a rotary dial and buttons that are tactile and super easy to get used to, so you don’t need to take your eyes off the road.
Up front, there’s ample space for driver and passenger and the rear will seat three, although taller passengers might find the head and leg space a little tight.
On the technology front, enjoy USB charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control all included. Higher spec versions offer a heated steering wheel and heated seats with electric adjustment and a rearview camera. Sumptuous Nappa leather is available on top-spec cars plus a bombastic Bose stereo. Mazda has upped its refinement game, so the Mazda 6 is also particularly quiet at motorway speeds, making it a relaxed cruiser.
There’s plenty of storage space inside the Mazda 6, from deep door bins to a decent-sized glove box and centre cubby. The boot is generous (sizes range from 480L to 522L) although the opening on the saloon is a little tighter than its rivals.
You’ll easily fit in a regular weekly shop – even it’ll even stretch to include the biggest Christmas turkey you can buy.
If you need more space, try the estate which is great looking and even more capacious. The load space is totally flat and dropping the rear seats to carry longer loads is as easy as pulling a pair of handles in the boot.
Running costs and reliability
Mazda reliability is a given, with the brand always performing well in owner surveys. Running costs are also quite low thanks to the company’s philosophy of making its cars as light as possible.
Don’t worry, that doesn’t compromise safety with the Mazda 6 scoring five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. The car’s relative lightness and its efficient SKYACTIV petrol and diesel engines join forces to deliver impressive economy figures. Petrol versions will do better than 40mpg with the diesels topping 50mpg.
What we love
The Mazda 6 stands out from the crowd in more than just its elegant styling. It does quite a few things differently to its rivals, from an interior that avoids being dominated by screens, to a nimble chassis and bigger non-turbo engines that still deliver on economy.
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The Mazda 6 goes against the grain in many ways– and deserves to be applauded for its alternative approach. You’ll find it efficient and fun behind the wheel and practical enough for all your family's needs.
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