2.2L Sport Nav SKYACTIV-D
The Mazda 6 is arguably the best-looking car in its class, with upmarket styling that’s a match for any saloon at any price.
This upmarket feel is enhanced by an interior that’s rich in quality, with some versions featuring a plush wood trim and suede-like upholstery. Not that you need one of the higher trim levels, because even the basic Mazda 6 packs a generous level of equipment.
It’s also great to drive, seamlessly switching from being agile enough for town and country driving to smooth and comfortable for long motorway drives. The petrol engines are responsive and ideal for enthusiastic drivers, but the 2.2-litre diesel is the highlight of the range. It somehow manages to blend brisk performance with excellent fuel economy and smooth running.
If the Mazda 6 saloon isn’t spacious enough for you, the more practical Tourer (estate) version is also available. A range of improvements and updates in 2018 made the 6 more stylish, more comfortable and better to drive than ever.
The Mazda 6’s interior combines minimalist design with high-quality materials. It’s very classy, especially following an update in 2018 when Mazda improved the sound insulation to make the interior as hushed as a public library.
An eight-inch colour touchscreen display that can also be controlled via a dial between the front seats is standard across the range. The display is a little dated, but this is less of an issue on post-2018 cars, when Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were added to the range.
The range-topping GT Sport Nav+ is a particular treat, featuring the likes of sumptuous leather trim, an 11-speaker Bose speaker surround sound system, a heated steering wheel, front seat ventilation and a smart digital instrument panel. In this spec, the Mazda 6 is a genuine rival to premium-badge cars such as the BMW 3 Series.
Space in the front is great, but the sloping roofline restricts the amount of headroom in the back. The Tourer is more spacious, so it’s the one to choose if your children won’t stop growing or you need an even bigger boot.
It’s hard to fault the driving experience. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a keen driver, you will appreciate the way the Mazda 6 feels in town, on a country road and on a motorway. Ride comfort is excellent, although it can be a little firm on models with 19-inch alloy wheels. It’s arguably worth the sacrifice for sportier looks.
For such a sensible executive car, the Mazda 6 is remarkably good fun to drive. The steering is great whether you’re tackling a mini-roundabout or a country road and the car always feels well controlled, which gives you real confidence behind the wheel.
There’s a fine range of engines to choose from. The non-turbocharged petrol engines need to be revved hard to get the best from them but while some people will enjoy this, others will prefer the excellent 2.2-litre diesel. In all cases, the six-speed manual gearbox works brilliantly. The automatic option requires less effort but it’s not the smoothest gearbox of its type.
Because the Mazda 6 doesn’t hold its value as well as some of its rivals when new, it’s a terrific-value used buy. Even the 2.0-litre petrol engines are capable of achieving an official 42.2mpg, but the 2.2-litre diesel is the economy hero. The higher-powered version has an official average of 55.4mpg, while even the more powerful model is capable of 53.3mpg.
The automatic transmission is less economical, so this is another reason to opt for the delightful six-speed manual gearbox. Insurance costs are reasonable, but you’ll pay a small premium for the GT Sport Nav+ model. A small price to pay in exchange for the cosmetic and equipment upgrades.
Mazda has an excellent reputation for reliability, and consistently scores highly in owner satisfaction surveys, so you’re unlikely to experience too many problems.
The car was awarded a maximum five-star rating for safety when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2018. This included credible adult and child occupant protection scores of 95% and 91% respectively.
Best for economy - 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150 SE-L Nav+
Best for family - 2.0 Skyactiv-G 145 SE-L Lux Nav+ Tourer
Best for fun - 2.2 Skyactiv-D 184 GT Sport Nav+
All versions of the Mazda 6 give you a very high standard of equipment, so the decision comes down to the choice of engine and body. The saloon is very practical and will cost a bit less, but if you’ve got dogs or a growing family the more versatile Tourer is the one to go for.
Look out for models finished in optional Soul Red Crystal metallic paint, which was an expensive option when new and really makes the most of the sleek styling. Higher-spec models have many desirable features, including leather trim, heated back seats (really), a superb Bose premium sound system and 19-inch alloy wheels.