You know what’s weird these days? Driving a sedan. All the cars that have left my driveway this year have been mostly SUV’s, hatches, dual-cabs, wagons, shooting brakes, vans, 4×4’s and sports cars. To find myself sitting in the Mazda 6 Touring sedan almost gave me a sense of nostalgia.
The current Mazda 6 as you’d expect is the most refined yet, new yes but more of an evolution. The current platform debuted in 2012 offering a new blend of style, sophistication and driving dynamics for the brand. The latest 6 has been on sale since June and for the purpose of this review I’ll focus on the Touring diesel model I took for a weekend trip away. You can also be a real rebel and choose a wagon if you want.
Mazda has a name for their design language, KODO. Nice, but in simple terms it translates to one of the better-looking sedans, period. I really love the front end of this car, it’s elegant while still being complicated and sporty at the same time. I went looking for fog lights only to discover they are now integrated within the LED headlamps.
The rear is equally as interesting with a little upper flick to the boot line, horizonal plastic chrome highlight line and exhaust tail pipes that sit almost at the edge of the bumper. Overall the Mazda 6 has a low slung, attractive profile that matches far more expensive European offerings.
The Touring model is the second up the ladder in the line-up, preceded by the Sport then followed by the GT and Atenza models. Our test car was powered by the SKYACTIV-D 2.2 twin-turbo diesel engine. This is a great diesel with 140kW and 450Nm available via a six-speed automatic. There’s enough punch to chirp the front-wheel-drive 17’’ wheels off the mark.
It even has a nice grunt to it under hard acceleration, strange for a diesel but a pleasant surprise to those that may fret over the idea of an oil burner. The only thing I’d like to see on the Mazda 6 is some kind of Sports mode, it seems to warrant it.
To its credit Mazda is awake to the fact safety credentials are a must these days. Standard across the range under the i-ACTIVESENSE banner is adaptive radar cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, AEB for forward and reversing plus traffic sign recognition.
There’s a clear head up display along with Mazda’s MZD Connect 8.0-inch floating tablet style touch screen. This is a very good infotainment system that you’ll generally operate via the centre rotary dial and surrounding buttons. The only drama I have is the lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, yet. These additions are becoming increasingly important in our ever-increasing connected world, plus Apple CarPlay now offers Google Maps – a must have in my world!
The Mazda Experience.
The interior in the 2018 Mazda 6 has been revised but still offers the best in-class cabin I’m aware of. All touch points are soft and plush, the craftmanship is excellent and there’s a real wow factor to the overall design. There’s convincing horizontal brushed alloy inserts and nicely designed air vents. It essentially bats above the average in this category.
I really enjoy the suspension and steering tune of most Mazda’s. The 6 offers excellent chassis control and balance with more than adequate cornering prowess. It steers precisely with a level of conviction that I often liken to a BMW. While its more basic underpinnings will eventually show at the edge of spirited driving, you’ll still enjoy a very well-honed drive.
A weekend trip away to Bathurst (I go there a lot!) proved it can also easily cope with all the luggage our little family requires for a few days away – 474-litres if you must know. It’s also more than comfortable for the two-hour stint with black leather seats and a thumping 11-speaker Bose sound system to keep us entertained.
Tell Us the Price.
The model I drove starts at $39,690 in sedan format. But you can jump in a 2.5-litre petrol sedan from $36,690 right up to the 2.2-litre diesel wagon at $40,990. The claimed fuel economy for the diesel is 5.3L / 100km, a tad ambitions but I did hover between 5.9 and 6.9L/100km on average.
The EFTM Scoreboard.
For a middle-class sedan, the Mazda 6 comes very close to emulating a luxury car. It may lack the latest trick transmissions and powertrains but for the money it’s a winner, big time. It’s an 8.5 out of 10 from me.