As cars go in Australia’s shrinking medium-car market, the Mazda6 has a hell of a lot going for it. It’s a genuinely beautiful car, well-priced, generously equipped and fitted with plenty of useful technology.
It’s also pitted against terminally dull cars from Toyota and Holden that are competent and well-executed but lack a bit for driveway appeal. The ‘6 could just walk it in, really.
At $37,280, the Mazda6 is competitive on price alone, but counters with a good equipment list and frugal SkyActiv engines.
The 6’s key lands in your hand along with an eleven-speaker stereo, seventeen-inch wheels, cruise-control, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors front and rear, a reversing camera, keyless entry and start, electric front seats with driver’s seat memory function, automatic LED headlights and fog lamps, sat-nav, leather trim, power mirrors with heating, auto wipers and a big multi-function screen.
Options include the low cost Soul Red metallic paint ($200) and the Safety Pack which adds blind spot monitoring, forward and rear collision mitigation, cross traffic alert and electric anti-glare rear-vision mirror.
If you want our advice, don’t get the white of our test car because it doesn’t draw out the prettiness of the Mazda6. Well-proportioned, long and low-slung, the ‘6 teeters on the edge of sports car looks, particularly if you spend some money on bigger wheels.
Its four-door coupe shape does rob some rear headroom but it’s worth it to have such a nice piece of design to open the front door to every morning. As with most Mazda designs, brightwork has been kept to a minimum, with subtle chrome flashes around the five-point grille, foglights and side glass.
Inside isn’t especially adventurous, but it’s well designed and built, better than many recent Mazdas. The materials are spot-on, and everything is in the right place.
Occupants get firm but supportive seating, with the driver’s seat having a generous range of adjustment. The driving position is good, too, if a little low for some tastes.
The cabin has plenty of storage front and rear while the boot carries up to 474 litres, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s a mere 23 litres short of the wagon and 70-odd litres bigger than the CX-5’s.
Six airbags, ABS, stability and traction control, brake assist and force distribution and hazard light warning when emergency braking.
The Mazda6 was awarded five ANCAP stars.
Mazda’s iDrive-alike system is very good indeed, combining the on-the-move convenience of a rotary dial while adding touch functionality to the seven-inch screen when stationary. The sound is adequate with good control features for connected mobiles, which can be either bluetooth or USB.
The sat-nav is a bit low on detail but has a very cool feature that lets you know if there is a school zone or speed/red light camera ahead in the nav’s dulcet tones.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Mazdas’ 2 .5-litre petrol handles the propulsion duties, mated to a six-speed automatic. Producing 138 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque, the 6 will motor to 100km/h in a respectable 8.2 seconds.
Mazda claims 6.6 litres per 100km on a combined cycle, we saw much higher numbers at 9.3 L/100km, but it will run on standard unleaded. Consumption drops appreciably on long steady runs.
Mazda6 is a proper sedan. Roomy and quiet, it’s an impressively comfortable car to travel around in. The engine, when kept below 4000rpm is hushed and on most surfaces the suspension is discretion itself.
The electric steering is very light and a bit vague but never lies to you. It’s when you start to give the car a bit of a challenge it begins to run out of answers. It might look sporty but it isn’t especially – that’s not a criticism, it’s just not a particularly sporting drive. Which means it rides well.
The petrol version of the Mazda6 struggles with the weight. While you couldn’t accuse it of being sluggish, the diesel edition would show it a clean pair of tailpipes every time. Apart from that, it’s a very refined urban companion.
Things also get a little noisy over bad and broken surfaces. It’s certainly not bad – the previous Mazda6 scored very poorly on that front – but it would do for Mazda to eradicate the racket as has been done on the tiny Mazda2.
Another slight irritation is the brake pedal pressure required to activate the 6’s stop-start system. If you’re sitting at the lights and the system is available, the dashboard light will give you handy hint to press the brake harder. Only problem is, holding it where the i-Stop wants can be a bit fatiguing. You can skip the bother by shifting into neutral, but that sort of defeats the purpose of the pollution reducing stop-start unit.
SUMMING UP 4.0/5
Mazda6 remains the standout in this segment. While not outstanding in every way, it does everything very well. Not only that, it’s lovely to look at and be in, driver or passenger.
Every other logical competitor is dull or a bit fuddy-duddy, aiming at those who just want something to get from A to B. Mazda6 does everything they do, with a more extensive equipment list and a massive dose of cool.
LIKES: Great chassis at normal pace, overall refinement, beautiful design
DISLIKES: Too-light steering, i-Stop sometimes needs a lot of pedal pressure