Mazda 6 Review
"Sharp looks, sharp drive, sharp value"
Mazda 6 review - Tourer, red, front view, 2020

Mazda 6 review: an excellent alternative to premium cliche

  • Published 29 April 2020
  • 6 minute read
  • By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

Introduction

Cast your mind back to the days when you travelled around in the back of your parents’ car. The chances are they drove a saloon or estate, because back then, that’s what most families owned.

From scorching your exposed legs on the hot vinyl seats on a daytrip to the seaside, to cramming the boot with grocery shopping packed in plastic carrier bags, the saloon or estate car was central to family life.

The Mazda 6 is a good looking carMazda 6 review - saloon, red, front view, 2020 Available to leaseLease Now

Today, they are going the same way as the plastic carrier bag. Motorists are turning to crossovers and SUVs in their droves, leaving cars like the Mazda 6 to fight in an ever-dwindling, plastic-free pond.

But the fact that you’re here at all suggests that you’re not prepared to follow the crowd. Maybe it’s the whiff of nostalgia associated with the family Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Vectra, or perhaps you want to stand out from the crowd. Either way, the Mazda 6 saloon and estate (Tourer) impress in ways that an SUV simply cannot achieve.

Best of all, you can lease a Mazda 6 for under £200 a month, which makes it cheaper than many city cars or superminis. Maybe that’s why you’re here.


Looks, tech and design

It looks great, doesn’t it? While many people are turning to cars that resemble the Tonka toys your little brother drove into the skirting boards of your three-bed semi, the Mazda 6 is your chance to go your own way.

The Tourer estate is even smarter than the saloonMazda 6 review - Tourer, red, side view, 2020 Available to lease Lease Now

It’s available as an achingly good looking four-door saloon or a gorgeous estate, with styling that could grace a car with a so-called premium badge. All versions come with slimline LED headlights, LED rear lights and rear privacy glass, with the SE-L Nav+ and SE-L Lux Nav+ riding on stylish 17-inch alloys.

The Mazda 6 looks its best on the 19-inch rims worn by the Sport Nav+ and GT Sport Nav+, especially if you opt for Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Machine Grey Metallic or Deep Crystal Blue Mica paint. There’s a rich and upmarket feel to the car. You will turn heads.

The good vibes continue on the inside, with a cabin that looks and feels plush, with plenty of noise insulation to keep unwanted sounds at bay. Leather is fitted to all except the SE-L Nav+ model, which is also the only version to miss a heated steering wheel.

You will turn headsMazda 6 review - Tourer, red, front view, driving, 2020Available to lease Lease Now

For the ultimate indulgence, opt for the GT Sport Nav+. This flagship model boasts brown Nappa leather heated seats, along with a suede and real wood inlay on the instrument panel and doors. If you’ll excuse the cliché: it’s a delightful place to be. The front seats are ventilated, so scorching your bare legs is a thing of the past.

Tech-wise, all versions get an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen display, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, European mapping and dual-zone climate control.

Once again, the GT Sport Nav+ is the Mazda 6 I’d like to spend most time in. It boasts a brilliant 11-speaker Bose sound system, LED interior lighting and a 7-inch TFT display in front of the driver.

Simple but stylish interiorMazda 6 review - interior, 2020 Available to lease from £286 per month Lease Now

So far, so good, but if space is a luxury, a SUV has the Mazda 6 saloon licked. It feels a bit cramped and claustrophobic in the back, with the sloping roof reducing the amount of headroom for the tallest passengers. It’s also a bit tricky to load Bags for Life into the boot.

If you’re after practicality to rival an SUV, choose the Mazda 6 Tourer estate. You can fit 506 litres of luggage in – or 1,632 litres with the rear seatbacks down. The loading lip is a bit high, but no worse than the SUV you might be considering.

Or try: Our BMW 3 Series review


Driving

The Mazda 6 is far nicer to drive than the vast majority of SUVs. Even without the clever G-Vectoring Control, which is standard across the range, a saloon or estate will always corner better than a taller SUV because of its lower centre of gravity.

I’ll spare you the PowerPoint presentation on G-Vectoring Control. Rest assured that the Mazda 6 is a delightful car to drive. It has a feeling of agility that’s absent from loftier cars, along with a deftness of touch that you only appreciate when you’re driving something that, well, isn’t a Mazda 6.

A fine balance between comfort and enjoymentMazda 6 review - saloon, red, rear view, driving, 2020 Available to leaseLease Now

You’ll also appreciate the ride quality, which somehow manages to blend firmness with smoothness, even on 19-inch wheels. There’s a reason why Mazda has a reputation for building cars for enthusiasts – this is the firm responsible for the iconic MX-5, remember – and the 6 is the perfect embodiment of this.

As for engines, it depends on whether you want a non-turbocharged petrol or a turbocharged diesel. The 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol engines are best reserved for those who enjoy exploring the upper reaches of the rev counter, while the 2.2-litre diesel – which is available in a choice of outputs – is ideal for those who favour economy and low CO2 emissions.

The 194hp 2.5 feels like the engine that was designed for the 6, as it delivers weightier steering and the power the car deserves. Of the diesels, the smaller 150hp version is preferable to the 184hp model as it’s cheaper to buy and offers better fuel economy. The difference in performance is negligible.

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Cost and economy

When I check, a little over £200 a month would secure a lease deal on a Mazda 6 SE-L Nav+. That’s a lot of car and equipment for a very small price. Some city cars and superminis cost more to lease than this.

Considering the absence of turbocharging, the petrol engines should deliver solid fuel economy. You can expect around 40mpg from the 2.0-litre versions, and 38mpg from the 2.5-litre engine. As I pointed out earlier, you need to press these hard to get the best from them if you fancy driving for fun – which will put a dent in the efficiency.

Not the most practical estate bootMazda 6 review - Tourer, boot space, 2020 Available to lease Lease Now

Predictably, the diesel engines are the economy heroes. The 148bhp version should return around 55mpg, while the 173bhp is about 2mpg less economical. A word of warning: because Mazda uses a traditional six-speed automatic transmission, the auto won’t be as economical as the manual. A drop of 7.5mpg is likely, which is significant over the course of a leasing contract.

These fuel economy figures are based on the Mazda 6 saloon – there are some slight variations with the Mazda 6 Tourer.

Or try: Our Range Rover Evoque review


Verdict

I’m not blind to the attractions of a modern SUV. I appreciate the commanding driving position, the practicality and the perceived feeling of prestige that a good SUV can deliver. However, in the vast majority of cases, I’d favour a saloon or estate.

Go old-school and pick a traditional car over an SUVMazda 6 review - Tourer and saloon, red, 2020Available to lease Lease Now

In many ways, the Mazda 6 feels outmoded and out of touch in a world obsessed with high-riding vehicles. Yet it also represents all that is good about the modern saloon and estate car: stylish, tech-laden, practical (particularly in the case of the Tourer) and efficient.

I suspect you arrived here because you were considering something like an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. In which case, I can advise that the Mazda 6 can’t quite deliver the same levels of quality and brand equity offered by the Germans.

On the flipside, the Mazda 6 is more exclusive than most rivals, arguably better looking and still great to drive. The affordability of the leasing deals is one of the best kept secrets in the industry. Try not to tell everyone.

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