is best known in the UK for its sports cars – the MX-5
and the RX8, the latter not currently being imported into Europe because of difficulties in meeting European emission standards with its Wankel rotary engine.
The other Mazdas have tended to live in their shadow. The Mazda 2, for example, is often thought of as a slightly different Ford Fiesta and, unless you are a Mazda enthusiast, it is all too easy to forget the Mazda 3, Mazda 5, Mazda 6 and CX-7.
Mazda has decided to do something about this, by giving their cars a stronger brand image and greater appeal. It was with that in mind that I accepted the keys to the Mazda 6.
Does it appeal?
The Mazda 6 really does have something of the executive saloon look, despite being a hatchback. It’s a neat design with the Mazda signature of the lines flowing out from the front wheel arches and the corporate grille.
The interior is welcoming and also exudes the executive saloon image with good ergonomics and a welcome lack of OTT styling. I found it comfortable with a good driving position and sensible controls.
Does it go?
My test car was the Mazda 6 Sport 2.2 Diesel. I always feel a little uneasy when I see a “Sport” badge on a diesel, having experienced similar promises in the past that have failed to deliver. I am glad to say that the Mazda does.
Japanese manufacturers were a little later than their European counterparts to embrace diesel power, because their biggest export market – the United States – is not hot on diesel cars. Late they may be, but Mazda are up to the mark.
Mazda produce just the one diesel power unit with a capacity of 2.2-litres. But, it comes in a number of power outputs. For the Mazda 6 Sport it puts out 180 PS (there are also 129 and 163 PS versions).
The 0 to 62 mph figure is a rapid 8.7 seconds. Remarkably, that is just 0.3 seconds slower than the Mazda Sport with the 2.5-litre petrol engine. So, it is no surprise to see that I have written “lively and responsive” in my notes. Top speed is quoted at 135 mph.
It is also quite refined. I always reckon the acid test is whether you forget that you have a diesel engine under the bonnet. With the Mazda 6, I did.
How green is it?
The combined economy figure for the Mazda 6 Sport is 52.3 mpg. As usual, it is difficult to match that figure in everyday driving conditions and the trip computer noted my average over the period of the test as a whisker under 40 mpg, which is still creditable for a car of this size.
Carbon Dioxide emissions are 142 g/km, putting the Mazda 6 Sport Diesel into band F for UK road tax.
What’s it like drive?
In the five days I had with it, the Mazda 6 Sport experienced the usual mixture of city driving, dual carriageway cruising and country roads.
That responsive engine and sharp steering make the Mazda 6 Sport 2.2 Diesel an enjoyable car around town and on dual carriageways. But, my regular routes also include a fair bit of twistier B-roads.
Although I found I could make quite good progress on these, I did feel it was rather harder work than many other test cars. Possibly it is because of the extra weight of the diesel engine?
How easy is it to live with?
The Mazda 6 Sport Diesel ticks the boxes for accommodation. This is a good four, or occasionally, five seater – but taller passengers might have to do some horse-trading of legroom between the front and back seats.
Although there is a little bit of a sill to heave bags over, the boot is particularly accommodating with 510 litres of space with the rear seats up and 1702 with them folded.
The Mazda 6 Sport 2.2 Diesel costs £23,680.
I ended my time with the Mazda 6 Sport 2.2 Diesel satisfied with the car. I never felt negative about selecting the Mazda keys, which is always a good sign. But, equally, I never felt particularl excited either.
The truth is that the Mazda Sport 2.2 Diesel does most things well. But, it doesn’t have that elusive spark that makes a car really appealing.