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First Drive: Mazda 6

Friday 07 October 2016

First Drive: Mazda 6

If you knew the old Mazda 6 well, then it may be difficult for you to see exactly what’s changed with this latest model. Apart from a few styling tweaks, it looks essentially the same as the car it replaces.

There’s little wonder why. The 6 was first introduced in 2013, and has been updated rather quickly for 2016 – which leaves you wondering why exactly Mazda wanted to change things up.

However, though the changes on the exterior remain minimal, it’s underneath the bonnet where things have really been brought up to date. Mazda’s own G-Vectoring Control (GVC), which is able to distribute torque between the car’s front wheels, makes a debut in the 6. There’s also new systems within the existing Skyactiv-D powertrain to improve driver enjoyment.

Looks & Image

Following an image revamp in 2015, there was little left to be updated on the 6. However, that isn’t to say that the 6 isn’t a good-looking car. Its flowing lines move elegantly into Mazda’s signature grille, which is edged nicely by LED lights.

Inside, there a few enhancements to the cabin. The steering wheel, for instance, has been completely redesigned, while the instrument dials have been refreshed too. There’s also chrome effects on areas such as the glovebox.

One feature which may sometimes be overlooked is the improved quality of the front seatback pockets, which have been designed to deal with wear and tear better than the components they replace.

Space & Practicality

There’s plenty of space in the Mazda 6, in either saloon or estate form. There’s a good amount of legroom for both front and rear passengers, while the estate’s 522-litre boot is more than big enough for the average family. 

The new 6 benefits from a greater amount of technology that was previously unavailable on the car it replaces. This includes a forward-sensing camera, which is used in conjunction by the car’s advanced smart city brake support and smart brake support systems.

The driver is also constantly monitored by the car’s systems when travelling at speeds greater than 40mph, alerting them should it detect a change in behaviour. 

Behind the Wheel

The first thing that becomes apparent when you start driving the new Mazda 6 is the lack of cabin noise. This comes, in part, thanks to the Natural Sound Smoother, a small damper placed in the hollow section of each piston pin. This helps reduce noise from the diesel engine, making for a more refined ride. Although not exactly breaking the mould in terms of technology, it’s the first time that it has featured on Mazda’s 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D unit. It really does make a difference, changing the nature of the engine’s sound completely. 

The previously mentioned GVC system uses engine torque to generate deceleration g-force, in turn shifting the load to the car’s driven wheels and giving more grip to the tyre in question. Provided the driver maintains a constant steering angle throughout the bend, the system will then bring acceleration back, returning load to the rear wheels once again. This makes for an incredibly confidence-inspiring drive, and means that the car never feels unsettled when cornering.

Mazda also claims that the system improves passenger comfort at higher speeds, as fewer driver corrections are needed to keep the car on a straight path. This certainly seems the case in practice, as the 6 is remarkably stable – even at motorway speeds.

Value for Money

If you based this 6 on looks alone, it would be difficult to see why you’d pick one over the previous generation car. However, when you take into consideration the added technology, as well as the dramatic changes to the engine and chassis, it becomes one of the best value for money cars in the market today – especially in this price range. 

Prices start at £19,795 for the saloon, with the 2.2 Skyactiv-D Tourer in SE-L trim retailing at £24,795.

Who would buy one ?

Drivers currently looking at a Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia or Volkswagen Passat could easily be tempted by a 6, especially considering the excellent levels of equipment included as standard. It certainly provides a worth rival to the more traditional choices, and is certainly one of the prettiest mid-range cars on the market today. 


Facts at a Glance

Model: Mazda 6 Tourer SE-L Nav GVC (£24,795)
Engine: 2.2 Skyactiv-D producing 148bhp and 380Nm of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual, driving the front wheels
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, top speed 130mph
Economy: 67.3mpg
Emissions: 110g/km

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