Mazda Mazda6 Saloon Review

Exterior

Even when compared with much newer competition, the Mazda 6 Saloon is still a very smart and slinky-looking family car. 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 have real cohesion. 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.

Interior

With interesting interior design and some tactically placed metallic trims and stitched leather panels, it feels like a reasonably classy environment

There鈥檚 no doubting the solidity of the 6鈥檚 cabin, with tight assembly and substantial-feeling materials. Granted, the plastics used aren鈥檛 as plush as those used in the classiest family 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鈥檚 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鈥檚 reasonably easy to get to grips with, but it鈥檚 not as user-friendly as the systems used in rivals like the VW Passat, and to a lesser extent, the Ford Mondeo.

Practicality

The 6 is a big car, and that translates into plenty of interior space. There鈥檚 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. The boot is a decent size by class standards, and it鈥檚 a decent shape as well. However, there鈥檚 a pretty hefty lip that鈥檒l get in the way when you鈥檙e loading heavy items, and although there are handy catches to drop the rear seats from the boot, the chairs don鈥檛 quite fold down flat.

Ride and handling

The 6 is very competent and assured on the road, but dynamically, it has been left behind a fraction by newer rivals like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. Bumps and potholes are dealt with pretty effectively, but there鈥檚 a jittery quality to the ride at all speeds that you just don鈥檛 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鈥檒l have.

Performance

You can have your 6 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, and they鈥檙e pretty darn refined as well. Sadly, refinement isn鈥檛 so impressive elsewhere, because, you hear a lot more road noise than you do in the 6鈥檚 quietest rivals.

Running costs

The vast majority will be fitted with the lowered powered diesel engine. It鈥檚 the cleanest one on offer

With family saloons, the 6 included, being immensely popular with company car drivers, the vast majority will be fitted with the lowered powered diesel engine. It鈥檚 the cleanest one on offer, which means it鈥檒l incur the lowest bills for company car tax. However, while its CO2 emissions are decent enough at 107g/km, the 6鈥檚 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鈥檒l get through fuel a bit more sparingly. That said, the 6鈥檚 list prices are a decent slice cheaper than those of its main rivals, and you get plenty of standard kit for your money.

Reliability

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鈥檚 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.

Safety

Range-topping SportNav models can be specified with an optional safety pack that includes gizmos like lane departure warning and blind-spot assistance

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鈥檛 available on the lower-end trims.

Equipment

All versions of the 6 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 Sport Nav model also gets a reversing camera, powered leather seats, a heads-up display, keyless entry and, of course, satellite navigation.

Why buy?

Because you want a stylish family car that does a good job in pretty much every area. The 6 is certainly that, although rivals like the Volkswagen Passat still have it pegged in quite a few areas. Nevertheless, the 6 is a good all-rounder.