2019 MAZDA6 WAGON IS STYLISH AND PRACTICAL

Mazda6_wagon_front
Conventional station wagons are becoming something of a rarity nowadays with buyer preferences firmly locked into SUVs of various shapes and sizes.

Almost all the wagons that remain have adopted the coupe-like Euro styling that distinguishes them from the typical SUV not only with a more stylish design but also by making them more enjoyable to drive and, with their lower centre of gravity, safer with than the typically boxy SUV.

Mazda is hedging its bets by selling some of the most popular SUVs while still persevering with a wagon version of its mid-sized Mazda6.

The ‘6 has been a consistent seller since it debuted here in 2002. It was given a facelift and engine upgrade in 2018 that were topped up earlier this year with improved driving dynamics and infotainment updates.

Mazda6 comes in four specification levels, Sport, Touring, GT and Aetna all with the choice of sedan or wagon bodies. There are two engine options both petrol-powered with 2.5-litre capacity, one naturally-aspirated in the Sport and Touring models, the other turbocharged in the GT and Atenza.

STYLING
Mazda6 in either sedan or wagon format is a great looking vehicle from all angles. The large honeycomb grille with glossy highlights dominates the front, fringed by sleek LED headlights with embedded foglights and LED daytime running lights on models above Sport.

Like most Euro wagons the rear of the ‘6 load-carrier is very similar to that of a hatchback.

Mazda6_wagon_rear

There’s little to distinguish the model variants except that Sport and Touring have 17-inch wheels with GT and Atenza up to 19-inch.

INTERIOR
The inside of the Mazda6 just oozes class with a real premium feel all around. We love the clean linear design of the dashboard with soft touch high quality materials.

Sport has cloth seat trim, Touring and above get leather. GT and Atenza have heated seats with Atenza’s also ventilated.

For what is a reasonably long vehicle (nearly 4.9 metres) rear interior space isn’t great for taller passengers in all three dimensions. The centre seat is narrow, effectively only wide enough for small children.

There are plenty of good-sized storage areas in the doors, front and centre space.

Cargo volume is 506 litres with the rear seats in place expandable to 1648 litres with the rear seats folded and loaded up to the roof. The opening is wide for easy loading and there’s also a cargo area tonneau cover with automated up and down function.

Mazda6_wagon_interior

SAFETY
In addition to the standard safety features across the industry all Mazda6 variants get a comprehensive list of equipment including radar cruise control; Blind Spot Monitoring; Driver Attention Alert; Forward Obstruction Warning; Intelligent Speed Assistance; Lane Departure Warning; Lane Keep Assist; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Rear Parking Sensors; Reversing Camera; Smart City Brake Support; G-Vectoring Plus; Traffic Sign Recognition; Head-Up Display; two Isofix child restraint anchor points; and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System.

The Atenza adds a 360-degree overhead camera.

INFOTAINMENT
The 8-inch colour display monitor is crisp and clear. Cleverly, it’s a touchscreen when the car is stationary but can only be controlled by a circular knob on the central console when it’s moving.

Mazda6 has now caught up with the field and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard. There’s also internet radio integration with Stitcher and Aha, AM/FM radio with a second antenna now added to expand for improved quality FM reception, DAB+ Digital Radio and Bluetooth.

The standard six-speaker audio system in the Sport is upgraded to Premium Bose 11-speaker system from Touring upwards.

There’s good storage space at the bottom of the dashboard for a smartphone although the twin USB ports in the front are located in the centre storage bin. There are two more in the rear seat armrest.

Satellite navigation is standard across the range.

ENGINE / TRANSMISSIONS
Sport and Touring grades are powered by a naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre petrol engine with 140 kW of power and 252 Nm of torque at at 4000rpm. Cylinder deactivation which shuts down two of the four cylinders when travelling at steady speeds helps keep fuel consumption down to a factor-tested 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres

The higher spec GT and Atenza models use a Skyactiv-G 2.5T turbocharged petrol engine with maximum power of 170 kW and torque of 420 Nm at a significantly lower 2000rpm. We’ve previously driven behind this engine in the CX9.

Both engines are paired to a six-speed automatic transmission with steering column mounted paddle shifters. The parking brake is electronic with auto hold.

DRIVING
While getting into the Mazda6 is reasonably easy the combination of its sleek profile and a sunroof meant that we had to lower the driver’s seat to its lowest possible setting, not our preferred driving position. While that’s expected in a sportscar it’s likely to be a drawback for taller occupants.

Having said that the seats are wide, supportive and comfortable.

Exterior vision is fine to the front and sides but restricted by the small rear window and rear seat headrests.

We’ve driven both engines and while the naturally-aspirated unit is smooth and quiet it doesn’t reach peak power and torque until 6000 and 4000 rpm respectively and so falls behind the performance of its turbo sibling.

Around the suburbs it’s smooth, quiet and comfortable and, with the cylinder deactivation in play more fuel efficient and seamless at the same time. On the motorway segment of our test it cruises easily albeit with a fair bit of pedal pressure needed when pushing up some the steeper climbs.

The turbo is much better, although there is a hefty price premium involved. There is a little bit of torque steer but the G-Vectoring keeps that in check. The engine sound is quite distinctive but we love it.

The biggest difference is in the midrange engine response with little turbo lag which makes for faster pickup and safer overtaking.

In both models the ride is firm but comfortable and steering is precise with good feedback.

Fuel consumption from our extended test in the turbo Atenza was around 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres compared with the published 7.6 L/100 km.

SUMMING UP
If you’re looking for a vehicle that can combine functionality with driving enjoyment the Mazda6 is certainly worth a place on your shopping list. If the balance lies in the convenience side then the more affordable Sport or Touring models with their naturally-aspirated engines will be perfectly fine. However if you are a keen driver then we definitely steer you towards the turbocharged GT or Atenza.

All Mazdas now come with five year, unlimited kilometre standard warranties.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
Sport sedan: $34,490
Sport wagon: $35,790
Touring sedan: $38,690
Touring wagon: $39,990
GT sedan: $45,990
GT wagon: $47,290
Atenza sedan: $49,890
Atenza wagon: $51,190
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda6 Atenza 2.5-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.488 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 170 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 420 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.6 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 178 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4800 mm
Wheelbase: 2750 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1458 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1526 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 62 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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