Mazda’s 6 might not be as common a sight compared to Fords, Opels and Toyotas, but the Japanese family car is an interesting, fine driving alternative to the mainstream norm. The current model was introduced in 2008. It's larger, more refined and even sharper to drive and look at than its predecessor. There are saloon, hatchback and estate styles to choose from, powered initially by a range of petrol and diesel engines. Mazda Ireland now only offers the 2.2-litre turbodiesel for all but a single model.
With the proliferation of the Toyota Avensis, Opel Insignia and Ford Mondeo the Mazda6 is often overlooked in the family car market. It shouldn’t be, as it has all the qualities of its numerous rivals wrapped up in a good-looking, tidy handling package. There’s a neat saloon, a practical hatchback and a commodious estate, though the range is currently only offered with either a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine (producing either 129- or 180hp in Z-Sport guise) or a single 2.0-litre petrol model mated to an automatic transmission. Having been around since 2008 there is more choice on the used market, as the car was introduced with 2.0-litre turbodiesel and 1.8-litre petrol options. Along with the good looks Mazda hasn’t scrimped with the specification, with even the entry-level models benefitting from equipment like air conditioning. The trim levels have changed during its years on sale, with TS levels - increasing numbers corresponding to higher grades - being replaced with Executive, Executive SE, Sport, Sport SE and a single high output 180hp turbodiesel hatchback model in Z-Sport trim. A smart, uncluttered interior, comfortable seats and good reliability make the Mazda6 a good, and distinctive used buy.
The 2.2-litre turbodiesel is the most common engine on forecourts and its good performance, decent economy - with an official combined consumption figure of 5.2 litres/100km - and emissions make it a fine all-rounder. Sport and Sport SE models offer a decent mix of equipment and sensible pricing. The saloon is arguably the better looking car, but the hatchback is more practical, while the estate trumps both for hauling around your family and all the associated paraphernalia.
Mazda6 2.2D 5dr Sport SE
Engines: 2,184 four-cylinder turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 195km/h
0-100km/h: 10.9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.2 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: four stars
• Good looks
• Enjoyable to drive
• Generous equipment
• Some interior plastics feel a bit cheap
• 2.0-litre diesel unrefined
• Steel wheels on entry-level models
A fine alternative choice in the mainstream marketplace the Mazda6 drives well, looks good and comes decently equipped. You could have a Toyota Avensis, Ford Mondeo or Opel Insignia for much the same money, but the 6 is the more distinctive choice, and drives as well as the best of its rivals.