Mazda Mazda6 GLX Petrol 2013 Review

Mazda Mazda6 GLX Petrol 2013 Review

Has Mazda made the perfect station wagon? I liked the previous Mazda6, but I like this one more. A lot more. It’s got the kind of lines that only premium executive grand tourers used to have. It’s a large car. In fact, it’s quite a lot larger than the previous model at 4870mm long – is Mazda going after the space that the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon are struggling with?

Mazda-6-sHowever, because of Mazda’s SkyActiv technology and engineering philosophy, it’s lighter and more economical. The body is around 30% more rigid but because Mazda uses ultra-high strength steel, it can manufacture it more economically to weigh less.

Mazda-6-rqAdding to the fuel economy benefits of it being lighter are the new two-litre, four-cylinder engines and their stop/start technology that turns the engine off when you’re stationary; finally, the Mazda6 has

a decent engine that’s not thirsty. This base model GLX has a quoted combined fuel consumption of just 6l/100km and that’s impressive for its size. Get the diesel version and you can drop that to 5.4l/100km. Power is 114kW and 210Nm which will get you to a hundy in around 9 seconds. The engine is matched to a conventional six-speed automatic (praise a deity of your choice that it’s not CVT).

Mazda-6-inside-fThe ride is just right. There’s enough softness for it to be easy on the body on longer trips, and enough suspension wizardry to hustle you through tighter bends without leaning like a ship taking on water. In fact, with the swift steering rack it can sometimes feel like it’s bordering on sporty.

The best view of the Mazda is the front three-quarter one but it’s the one I saw the least! In fact, I deliberately reversed into a parking spot once because I wanted to walk back to the car looking at the front of it rather than the back. The Kodo design ethos that Mazda has embraced for its latest range really works for the front of the Mazda6.

But it’s not all about looks. Driving manners and practicality are still superb and it’s more refined and technology-rich. There’s full Bluetooth, iPod, USB and aux connectivity, and you can control everything from the touchscreen in the centre of the dash. The reversing camera’s image appears on this screen, too.

The interior is vastly improved over the previous model, but it’s not trying to hide from its target market – it’s a reasonably utilitarian and sensible execution of the upholstery and dashboard that will neither offend nor excite those that might end up spending several hours a day in it.

Mazda-6-seat-rCargo room is acceptable, but perhaps a little disappointing compared to the obvious competitors. 451 litres are available with the rear seats up and 1593 when you fold them (this is less than the outgoing model, despite the external dimensions being bigger). Contrast this with a VW Passat station wagon (603 and 1731 litres, respectively), and the Ford Mondeo (1005 and 2163 litres respectively) and there’s quite a difference if you’ll need to be transporting samples, or you like taking your whole house on holiday with you. Rear passenger legroom is good.

Mazda-6-screenThe only thing about the Mazda I didn’t like was the blindspot. I always set my mirrors so I can only just see the edge of the door handle. Usually this is perfect and I only need to glance sideways to check when changing lanes, but in the Mazda6 I had to turn my head to look behind the B-pillar. Fine if you’re aware of it, dangerous if you’re not.

I feel comfortable sounding a little effusive about a car that is essentially going to predominantly be used as a rep’s/fleet car. If I was in the situation of needing a sensible station wagon (remember: this is the base model) that looks sharp and will chew through the miles with ease, this will be right at the pointy end of the list. I imagine it will also be a strong contender for Car of the Year (though, as I write this, I’m driving the new VW Golf and, while that’s in a different vehicle category, it’s every bit as good!)

Mazda’s SkyActiv range is really starting to pay some dividends. Along with the CX-5, the Mazda6 is showing the competition how it should be done. This package brings a car that’s friendly to both the driver and passengers with environmental leanings and balanced handling/ride characteristics.

Price: $45,495

Pros

  • One of the best station wagons ever made for this price
  • Looks fantastic, handles well

Cons

  • Huge blindspot over your right shoulder
  • Competitors have significantly more load space

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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