You don’t buy a family estate car for its style, but compared with some of the blander, boxier offerings in the class, the Mazda 6 is a breath of fresh air. The deep grille and swept-back headlamps give the front end plenty of purpose, and further back, there are swooping lines and curvaceous bulges that give a really slinky appearance. All models come with alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers, but the range-topping SportNav version has a completely individual look. It comes with sparkly LED headlamps and fog lights as standard, which are smaller than the ones on the SE and SE-L models, so the SportNav also has a bespoke bumper for them to sit in. Meanwhile, the grille has a glossier finish and a thick chrome edging. It all makes the range-topper look a little smarter than more humble 6s.
There’s no doubting the solidity of the 6’s cabin, with tight assembly and substantial-feeling materials. Granted, the plastics used aren’t as plush as those used in the classiest family estate cars, but with interesting interior design and some tactically placed metallic trims and stitched leather panels, it still feels like a reasonably classy environment. The driving position had plenty of adjustment and there’s a good view out in all directions, while most of the main controls sit where you expect to find them. Many functions are handled by the central infotainment system, which has touch-screen functionality but can also be operated using a central dial. It’s reasonably easy to get to grips with, but it’s not as user-friendly as the systems used in rivals like the VW Passat Estate, and to a lesser extent, the Ford Mondeo Estate.
Estate cars are all about the boot, and for size at least, the 6 Tourer does pretty well. The 522 litres you get has the beating of many rivals, even if the biggest cars in the class do rather better. There are some nice touches, too, like rear seats that drop with the tug of a lever in the boot. However, the loadbay isn’t perfect. There’s a lip that’ll get in your way when you’re loading heavy items, and when you drop the back seats, they don’t lie perfectly flat like they do in some rivals. In the passenger compartment, there’s headroom and legroom aplenty in four of the five seats, although limited shoulder room in the back, plus a hard and narrow middle seat, means a fifth person should only be squeezed in very occasionally. Even then, the middleman will have to straddle a bulky transmission tunnel.
Ride and handling
The 6 Tourer is very competent and assured on the road, every bit as competent and assured as the saloon version. However, it has been left behind a fraction by newer rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat when it comes to dynamic polish. Bumps and potholes are dealt with pretty effectively, but there’s a jittery quality to the ride at all speeds that you just don’t feel in the rivals mentioned. And, while the tight body control and plentiful grip makes the 6 feel fairly agile and alert, the lightness and remoteness of the steering detracts from the amount of fun you’ll have.
You can have your 6 Tourer with one of four engines, 2.0-litre petrols with 143bhp and 163bhp, and more importantly due to their extra popularity, 2.2-litre diesels with 148bhp and 173bhp. The petrols need to be worked quite hard for decent acceleration, but the diesels have muscular flexibility in abundance, which is especially useful when your car is loaded up to the brim. The diesels are pretty darn refined as well. Sadly, refinement isn’t so impressive elsewhere, because, you hear a lot more road noise than you do in the 6’s quietest rivals.
The vast majority will be fitted with the lowered powered diesel engine, as it’s the cleanest one on offer
With family estates, the 6 included, being immensely popular with company car drivers, the vast majority will be fitted with the lowered powered diesel engine. It’s the cleanest one on offer, which means it’ll incur the lowest bills for company car tax. However, while its CO2 emissions are decent enough at 110g/km, the 6’s best rivals offer versions that dip below the 100g/km mark, meaning that tax bills will be quite a bit lower. It also means they’ll get through fuel a bit more sparingly. That said, the 6’s list prices are a decent slice cheaper than those of its main rivals, and you get plenty of standard kit for your money.
This is an area in which 6 ownership should give you very little cause for concern. As a brand, Mazda is flying high in the manufacturer standings of Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, and the 6 has a cracking score as an individual model. That said, the three-year/60,000-mile warranty provided looks rather average compared with the arrangements offered on some rival family cars.
All versions of the 6 have stability control to help you avoid having an accident, while six airbags are provided to help keep you from harm if one becomes avoidable. All but the entry-level SE trim also come with a city braking function, which at low urban speeds, can slow or stop the car automatically if it senses an impending collision. Range-topping SportNav models can also be specified with an optional safety pack that includes gizmos like lane departure warning and blind-spot assistance, but this pack isn’t available on the lower-end trims.
All versions of the 6 Tourer come with a good slice of standard kit included
All versions of the 6 Tourer come with a good slice of standard kit included. SE models have alloys, Bluetooth, cruise control, air-con and four powered windows, while SE-L trim adds desirable goodies like climate control, front and rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers. As well as its swisher looks, the SportNav model also gets a reversing camera, powered leather seats, a heads-up display, keyless entry and, of course, satellite-navigation.
Because you need the practicality of a family estate, but you don’t want to roll around in something that looks like a wardrobe on wheels. On that score, the snazzily styled Mazda 6 Tourer fits the bill, and it also does a good job in every other area. It’s not the best car of its type, with some rival estates offering you more practicality, better interior quality and a more polished driving experience. However, it’s still worthy of your consideration.