Road Test: Mazda6 2.2D SE-L Nav
I’ve got to be honest – I’ve always had a soft spot for Mazdas, ever since I had a second-hand 2.0-litre two-door coupe back in the Eighties.
Not just any coupe though. This one was a direct descendant of the acclaimed Mazda6. And I loved it.
Everywhere else in Europe it was known as the 626 but, in the UK, it was somewhat unmemorably called the Montrose. Legend has it that the name was changed to honour the company’s favourite UK dealership.
So, while Ford had the glamorously named Cortina and Capri, Mazda UK had the Montrose. I guess it could’ve been worse...the Mazda Barrow-in-Furness or Mazda Rhyl anyone?
But I digress. Back to the future. The Montrose has gradually evolved into the Mazda6. In 2014, the range covers 20 saloon and 16 tourer models with prices starting from £19,595otr and £21,315 respectively.
All are powered by Mazda’s remarkable and award-winning Skyactive 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engines with the choice of six-speed manual and auto transmissions.
Depending on model, there is a choice of six equipment levels (SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav, Sport and Sport Nav), two petrol engines, two diesels and six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
And it’s not just me that likes their sleek and sexy style, performance and efficiency. The experts at Carbuyer nominated the Mazda6 as the ‘best large family car’ – for the second year in a row – at the website’s 2014 Car of the Year Awards.
Why did they chose the Mazda6? Because of its efficiency, quality, reliability, safety, technology and practicality.
Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler said it was the “perfect large family car”.
He added: “It offers plenty of space and practicality in a package that’s affordable to run, great to drive and just as good to look at.”
That’s not all. The Mazda6 out-sold several mainstream rivals in the retail channel in 2013, including the Ford Mondeo and Toyota Avensis. So, despite an overall decline in its sector, the Mazda continues to increase its retail share.
I’ve driven three or four different models now, most recently the 2.2D SE-L Nav.
The 6 is now in its third generation – and, like most stars, seems to get better with age. As I said earlier, it looks, sleek, sexier, racier, and with its corporate shark’s mouth grin, even a little menacing.
This manual 150PS diesel returns a claimed 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 104g/km on the combined cycle but remains light and sporty – a real joy to drive. The auto – an extra £1,200, returns a claimed 58.9mpg and emissions of 127g/km.
Maybe I got carried away so I only managed a creditable 45.6mpg over seven days.
But this is a real driver’s car – you want to ‘zoom-zoom’ on our lovely, twisty A and B roads all-day long.
To help with fuel efficiency, the third-generation 6 is the first mass-production Mazda to be equipped with i-ELOOP, the Japanese company’s brake energy regeneration system.
Fitted as standard to the majority of Mazda6 models sold in the UK, it can supposedly boost economy by up to ten per cent, depending on driving conditions.
As a family car, the Mazda6 also offers class-leading impact protection. To help the driver avoid accidents, it also features an impressive array of advanced active safety technologies (depending on model) such as radar-based Rear Vehicle Monitoring, Smart City Brake Support (SCSB) and Lane Departure Warning System.
Even when a collision is unavoidable, passive safety technologies work to diminish its severity for occupants and pedestrians – and even the vehicle itself.
The benefits of the SCBS have been recognised by the Association of British Insurers. The Mazda6 SE-L and Sport models, which are fitted with SCBS as standard, are in insurance groups up to five and six groups lower than the previous model.
For the family, there’s also class-leading passenger space and all the latest infotainment technology.
All Mazda6 saloon and tourer SE models have alloy wheels, aircon, a sporty engine start/stop button, and a 5.8-inch multimedia colour touch screen.
Nav versions add an integrated navigation system powered by TomTom technology.
Add an L and the aircon becomes dual zone and you get privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing front wipers, dusk sensing lights and other goodies.
Really though, that’s pretty much by-the-by. For me, the Mazda6 is about its looks, it’s competitive pricing and its remarkable powerful but efficient Skyactive engine.
To discover the zoom-zoom you’re going to have to try it for yourself.
0-62 mph: 9
Max speed: 131
CO2 (g/km): 104
Combined mpg: 72.4