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Mazda Mazda6 2.2D 150PS Tourer Sport Nav

Click to view picture gallery“Unlike many a crossover, estate
  cars continue to provide the best
  combination of sleek looks, sporty
  handling and versatile carrying
  abilities. If you
ve not been seduced
  by the cult of the crossover and
  want a family car that will effortlessly
  double as a lifestyle workhorse
  then your best bet is an estate

Tourer, as Mazda badges its
  smart new Mazda6 holdall...

FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE GOOD. Very good. The streamlined five-door bodyshell aerodynamically smoothed-out to appeal to the eye as well as minimise drag and benefit fuel economy looks particularly fetching.

In fact, on several occasions while parked 'our' Mazda6 was taken for a Mercedes-Benz quite understandable as it definitely gives off that selfsame stylish yet restrained air of quality.

Canny buyers will like that almost as much as the un-Mercedes-like sticker price (21K-27K); even more they'll like the running costs, which are low for this size of car our 147bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel recorded an average 47.4mpg during its hard-worked week with MotorBar. For the record, in real-life driving conditions few cars like the Mazda6 will top 40mpg so near-50mpg is impressive even more so given the lusty performance.

“When it comes to ‘pace’,
the SkyActiv-spec
147bhp 2.2-litre four-pot
unit is virtually
indistinguishable from
the 2.0 petrol:
at tickover it’s muted;
pulling away, pick-up is
eager; and on the move
it’s barely heard —
but stay alert because
80mph tends to feel
like 50mph!
The other upside is that a full tank of fuel gets you a timesaving, real-world, near-600-mile range at the average consumption rate; a long cruise should extend that even further. And, more good news: thanks to emissions of just 110g/km, road tax is a throwaway 20 per year and you'll pay not a penny for the first twelve months.

Power choices will satisfy drivers from both camps: for FOPs (fans of petrol) there's a 2.0-litre powerplant that comes in 141 and 159bhp guises; for FODs (friends of derv), a 2.2-litre turbodiesel is available in either 147 or 170bhp spec. All the engines are good, and because these new third-generation Mazda estates come packaged in a lighter bodyshell, all deliver decent pace.

And when it comes to 'pace', the 'SkyActiv' 147bhp 2.2-litre four-pot unit is virtually indistinguishable from the 2.0 petrol: at tickover it's muted; pulling away, pickup is eager; and on the move it's barely heard but stay alert because 80mph tends to feel like 50mph!

And whatever the revs, the turboed 2.2-litre responds to your right foot with pleasing obedience. Of course, the strong torque (280lb ft from 1,800rpm) plays an important part in delivering the keen mid-range urge and in-gear flexibility.

Enough, in fact, to let you pootle along happily at 35-40mph in sixth gear if you're a 'top gear' driver. If, on the other hand, you're the other kind of 'Top Gear' pilot, it runs to 130mph and despatches the benchmark zero to 62mph in a crisp 9.2 seconds. Should you desire some additional poke, the 170bhp turbodiesel can be yours for an extremely reasonable extra 400.

When you need to press on, changing gears manually is no hassle the six-speed 'box has a positive, fast-changing action that syncs nicely with the well-weighted pedals; together they make the Mazda6 a pleasant and easy car to drive both in traffic and briskly on the open road. If you have many miles to go you'll be glad of its long-legged motorway gait at 70mph in top gear the 2.2D will be spinning over at a relaxed 2,000rpm.

You may have registered the 'SkyActiv' term used a few paragraphs back and wondered what, exactly, it is. Briefly, under the umbrella of SkyActive, Mazda makes use of a number of hi-tech features to optimise fuel efficiency and minimise emissions.

These include i-Stop a smooth-operating stop-start that you'll be happy to leave switched on. And i-ELoop (Intelligent Energy Loop) a capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system that converts kinetic energy into electricity when slowing or braking and then uses it to power the car's electrical components (such as the HiFi and lights).

“When you need to
press on, changing gears
is no hassle — the six-
speed manual ’box has a
positive, fast-changing
action that syncs nicely
with the well-weighted
pedals; together they
make the Mazda6 a
pleasant and easy car to
drive both in traffic
and briskly on the
open road...
The Mazda6 cabin accommodates five adults with no squeezing. Up front the well-padded seats are first class, providing all the support and comfort you could need whether you're the passenger or the one doing the driving.

Seats are big and comfy and upholstered in black leather (with perforated centre panels) and are complemented by plenty of upscale trim and high-gloss black and satin chrome items.

The well padded front seats are sensibly bolstered (firm enough but not so hard as to compromise entry and exit). Long distance drivers will be glad of the decent degree of support for their shoulders; those sitting in the front will benefit from the generous head, shoulder, elbow and leg room.

As good as it is in the front, those in the back are even more pampered they enjoy lashings of legroom and semi-reclined backrests, and can truly stretch out; and in spite of the sloping roofline, headroom is generous.

Making it all extremely liveable in row two are well-padded outer and centre armrests, bottle-holding door pockets, dedicated air vents, and a pair of cupholders. Plenty of room for knees and feet guarantees that three in the back is very doable.

The switchgear is all nicely to hand plus the legible trio of dials in the instrument panel keep you well informed with their information easily and quickly taken in at a glance. The 3D-display touchscreen SatNav (it also covers all the infotainment functions) is a doddle to use and is straightforward enough to be used without recourse to the handbook just touch the icon and follow where it takes you. Navigation routing directions and prompts are absolutely clear and given in good time.

Much appreciated features include a warning of fixed speed camera sites and icons on the navigation map showing the posted speed limits especially useful now that its commonplace to find the limit has inexplicably dropped from, say, 50mph to 40mph even when there's no logical or safety reason apart, of course, from squeezing revenue from easy-target cash-cow motorists.

Other welcome equipment highlights include the quick-serving two-zone AirCon, two-setting seat (and door mirrors) memory and three-stage seat heaters as well as tyre pressure monitoring and Mazda's own City Brake System. The drop-down glasses holder, located above the auto-dimming rear-view mirror, is much more useful than it sounds, while plenty of in-cabin storage space makes it easy to organise your personal 'stuff'.

It's also refreshing to find a sliding front centre armrest that doesn't block the handbrake. And while there's good visibility out to the front and sides and a wide rear screen, those holding the wheel will still be glad of the rear camera when reversing.

“Switching to the load-
carrying mode takes
but a few moments:
pull the release levers
in the boot and the rear
seats flip forward
and fold by themselves,
rewarding you with a
long, flat-floored
1,648-litre cargo bay...
The Tourer's 506-litre boot (to the belt line) will easily swallow a family's luggage; switching to its load carrying role takes but a few moments pull the release levers in the boot and the rear seats flip forward and fold by themselves, rewarding you with a long, flat-floored 1,648-litre cargo bay. A low, knee-height sill ensures back-friendly loading.

The easy-operation roller luggage blind rises with the light-to-lift tailgate for quick loading, and can be stored tidily away in a dedicated underfloor locker.

With the luggage cover fitted you can make good use of the underfloor compartment for overspill items. Two side trays and a pair of pop-our 3kg bag hooks one either side are also provided.

Keyless entry, start and locking makes for key-fumbling-free access and getaway. Swing open a front door (it will shut behind you with the solid thunk of a safe being closed) and you'll find a smart-looking and spacious cabin with a neat dash, all clearly intended to be lived in not just until the number plate change but for happily ever after.

All Mazda6 models come very well specced even the entry-level car boasts AirCon, electric windows and mirrors, cruise control, driver's computer, Bluetooth hands-free (operated by touchscreen buttons, steering wheel controls or a central wheel/button combo), USB connectivity, front fogs, and alloy wheels.

The range-topping Sport Nav trim has the lot, with black leather upholstery, six-way power adjustable driver's seat with memory and power lumbar adjustment, powered passenger seat, 3-stage seat heating to both front seats, smart remote keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera with dynamic parking guide lines and front and rear parking sensors, multifunction wheel (cruise, voice, fone, driver's info, and audio), premium Bose surround-sound system with 11 speakers, and integrated SatNav (powered by TomTom) with a 5.8-inch touchscreen.

And that's not all. You also get electric heated and powerfold (on demand) door mirrors, four one-shot auto up/down windows, Aux-In socket, auto lights and wipes, smoked privacy glass from the B-pillar back, LED daytime running lights, Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting, and a set of distinctive 19-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/45 rubber.

“The A1 driving position
engages well with
the Mazda6
s involving
road manners

keen drivers with family
responsibilities will
not be disappointed...
Estate cars don't always ride as well as their saloon counterparts particularly unladen. However, the Mazda6 does. And even on its 19-inchers the ride comfort is more than acceptable on all roads.

Overall, refinement is a strong point; the Mazda6 is a quiet mile-eater and the cabin offers a pleasantly cocooned environment for the driver and passengers alike on both short shopping runs or when undertaking a cross-country family holiday. The acid test is passenger feedback on a long trip with two passengers in the back we heard not a single gripe; only some über-relaxed snoring!

The A1 driving position engages well with the Mazda6's involving road manners. Helped by pleasingly responsive steering with good body control and strong levels of grip, it feels nimble for its size. On the run it's composed and unexpectedly fleet of foot, agreeably so when threaded through a series of bends. Brakes too, are very reassuring.

A good-to-drive family station wagon that's sleek enough to not look like one. Roomy, comfortable and highly-specced, this new Mazda6 Tourer has strong family appeal along with the ability to keep keen drivers smiling.

Mazda Mazda6 2.2D 150PS Tourer Sport Nav | 25,995
Maximum speed: 130mph | 0-62mph: 9.2 seconds | Test Average: 47.7mpg
Power: 147bhp | Torque: 280lb ft | CO2 110g/km