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Driven: 2018 Mazda6

PA Motoring logoPA Motoring 19/07/2018 Ryan Hirons

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Video: The new Mazda 6 on test [PA Motoring]

What is it?

Mazda has been on something of a roll in recent years. The latest MX-5 roadster has proven a success, the introduction of the CX-3 and CX-5 have given the brand leverage in the SUV market and both the 2 and 3 hatchbacks remain seriously competent options.

Now, in an effort to push on even further, the 6 has seen a refresh in both saloon and ‘Tourer’ (estate) form. This generation of the flagship Mazda has been around since 2012 though, so is a facelift enough to keep up with rivals?

a red car driving down a country road © Provided by The Press Association

What’s new?

At a first glance, the number of changes to the 6 may not be obvious, but under the skin – and above it for that matter – there have been quite some substantial changes.

One of the most prominent is the introduction of a new-to-the-UK 2.5-litre petrol engine which, perhaps surprisingly given the current push for ultra-low emissions, is naturally aspirated.

A number of visual tweaks have also been made to give it a more aggressive look, while the cabin has also seen a total overhaul to bring it in line with the latest Mazda offerings.


What’s under the bonnet?

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We got behind the wheel of a Tourer featuring the new 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, which is exclusively paired up to a six-speed automatic gearbox. The unit produces 191bhp and 258Nm of torque, capable of taking the car from 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds. As for efficiency, Mazda claims 42.2mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 153g/km.

It’s an impressive unit that’s suited well to both a cruise — aided by cylinder deactivation tech, which shuts down two of the engine’s cylinders under light load — and some spirited driving, offering plentiful power and a crisp note to boot. Sadly, it’s a little short-changed by the somewhat sluggish automatic gearbox that often feels indecisive about what gear it wants to be in.


What’s it like to drive?

a car driving on a road © Provided by The Press Association

Mazda has always prided itself on delivering machinery that’s fun to drive no matter the size or purpose, and the latest 6 is no exception. Although the suspension has been re-tuned to offer greater comfort, it hasn’t affected the behind-the-wheel experience — resulting in an estate that can deliver a smile on your face that you may struggle to find outside a hot hatch.

It’s just as good on a long drive, too. Road noise is limited, and the efforts to improve refinement have worked — offering a relaxing ride on even the bumpiest of UK motorways.

You’ll even find it pretty capable as a town machine, even with limited rear visibility – though that’s offset with the inclusion of a 360-view camera.

How does it look?

You’d be forgiven for thinking little has changed on the new 6 at a first glance, but there have been plenty of subtle changes to the way it looks.

A revised grille heads up the fresh aesthetic and is joined by new headlights which incorporate the fog lights. At the back of the car, there are more painted surfaces than before and the exhausts have been pushed further out.

We think it’s a seriously handsome looking thing, especially in the new Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint — which Mazda says is 20 per cent brighter and 50 per cent deeper in colour than the previous Soul Red.

a car parked in front of a body of water © Provided by The Press Association

What’s it like inside?

The cabin of the Mazda6 has seen a total overhaul to bring it up to speed with the rest of the range. Most obvious is the dashboard-mounted eight-inch display, replacing the previous smaller unit found in the centre of the dashboard.

Updated materials give it a more premium feel overall and do well to bring the 6 right back up to date with rivals – despite its advancing years.

As for boot space, that’s unchanged whether you opt for saloon or estate – there is 483-litres and 522-litres respectively with all rear seats in place.

a motorcycle parked on the side of a car © Provided by The Press Association

What’s the spec like?

Our test car was decked out in top-of-the-range GT Sport Nav+ grade, meaning a ton of equipment comes in the package. Luxury highlights include Ultrasuede and Japanese Sen wood trim, a full LED instrument cluster, ventilated and heated front seats and a sunroof.

Bags of safety tech also comes as standard across the whole range now, including radar-guided cruise control, blind spot assistance and autonomous emergency braking.

It’s easy to call £32,695 a lot on paper, but considering the levels of equipment, we’d call it good value.

a silver and black car © Provided by The Press Association

Verdict

A welcome refresh to the Mazda6 ensures it can still keep up with key rivals like the Volkswagen Passat, Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo despite now growing a bit in age. It still offers the most dynamic driving experience of the bunch, while now also bringing tons of tech.

We’d be inclined to opt for a smaller petrol engine if only for a manual gearbox, but the 2.5-litre unit feels fruity and boasts good economy too.

The Mazda6 may just be one of the most well-valued packages on today’s market.

a red car parked on the side of a vehicle © Provided by The Press Association

Facts at a glance

Model: Mazda6 Tourer GT Sport Nav+

Price: £32,695

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol

Power (bhp): 191

Torque (Nm): 258

Max speed (mph): 139

0-60mph: 7.9 seconds

MPG: 42.2

Emissions (g/km): 153

Mazda has given the 6 a facelift for 2018, but is it enough for the ageing machine to keep up with rivals? Ryan Hirons finds out.: Driven: 2018 Mazda6 © PA Driven: 2018 Mazda6
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