The Mazda6 Tourer is well designed, inside and out, it’s practical, it has a good performance/efficiency balance, it’s refined and it drives well – but we wish it shared the MX-5’s rear-wheel drive handling…
We like Mazda as a brand; its cars are all good to drive, ranging from the Mazda 3 to the Mazda MX-5. And in our view, Mazda also has the best design in the business at the moment; the CX-3 is surely the best-looking car in its class by far? So what about the latest version of the Mazda6, in Tourer form: if you’re considering German brands, should this be on your short list?
The Mazda6 has a four-cylinder, 2.2-litre diesel engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Unlike many rivals in this class, it has front-wheel drive.
Along with the rest of the Mazda range, we think the Mazda6 Tourer has excellent styling. It looks even better with the Soul Red Crystal Metallic Paint of our test car, which is extremely vivid when in bright sunlight. Unfortunately on the day of our photoshoot there was no sun, just clouds, so the photographs don’t do the colour justice.
The interior is also well designed, as well as being functional. And because this is the Tourer, it’s spacious and practical.
The Mazda6 Tourer interior shares some genes with the MX-5. So there’s a feeling of sportiness, but it also exudes much more of an air of premium class than previous iterations of the Mazda6.
The driving experience feels more direct than some rivals, in a sporty way, helped by the well-weighted steering – but the main impression that you’re left with is of a very refined car – again, more so than older generations. This is especially true on long motorway journeys, when the 6 is very quiet, and it doesn’t feel like a diesel.
The ride is comfortable, yet the handling also feels well balanced. It feels lighter to drive than it should, as it weighs in at 1706 kg. However – our one big wish for this car is that it shared the same rear-wheel drive handling characteristics as the MX-5 rather than being front-wheel drive, and then it would be a potentially brilliant proposition. It would also avoid the wheelspin that the 6 exhibits when accelerating on wet roads, but the fact that the traction control system allows some wheelspin is preferential, in our view, to cutting all the power abruptly, as is the case with some car brands.
You’re left with the feeling that the Mazda engineers aimed to achieve a good performance and efficiency balance with this car, and they succeeded. We’ll come onto economy in a moment, but performance is certainly good, if not sparkling, and the 6-speed manual gearbox is slick, like that in the MX-5. However there is some turbo lag, which means that when setting off, acceleration can die until the turbo kicks in.
The interior is well designed, and a pleasant alternative to German interiors. It’s also functional, especially the infomedia system, but this does feel very closely modelled on BMW’s iDrive system, with a separate rotary control dial and shortcut buttons, so it should work effectively. There’s also a head up display. And as well as not having to rely on touching the touchscreen due to the rotary controller, you can also switch off the lane departure warning system by the touch of a button – and it stays off. Hooray!
The official combined fuel economy for the Mazda6 Tourer 184ps GT Sport Nav+ is 58.6mpg based on the NEDC test, or 51.4mpg according to the new, more realistic WLTP test, with CO2 emissions of 126 g/km. In real-world driving we achieved 57.9mpg at motorway speeds, and after a week of mixed driving we averaged 47.6mpg, which is a respectable result for a large (1706 kg) estate that’s also good to drive. This is also an improvement on the 43mpg that we achieved last time we tested a Mazda6 diesel. The 6 also has a 580 mile range, which is very useful, especially after driving lots of EVs that often have a sub-200 mile range.
The Mazda6 Tourer 184ps GT Sport Nav+ costs £31,785. Our test car had options of Soul Red Crystal Metallic Paint (£800) and Light Stone Nappa interior (£200), taking the price of our test car to £32,785.
The Mazda6 Tourer is available in trims of SE-L Nav+, SE-L LUX Nav+, Sport Nav+ or GT Sport Nav+, with 145PS, 165PS or 194PS petrol engines, or 150PS or 184PS diesel engines, and manual or automatic transmissions.
We like Mazda as a brand, but more than that, we love Mazda’s current design language – in fact we’d go so far as to say that the company has some of the best-looking cars on sale, and this includes the Mazda6 Tourer. It also has an interior environment that combines a sporty feel with an upmarket premium ambience.
Perhaps the thing that impressed us most with this latest 6 was the refinement; it really is a much quieter place to be on motorway journeys than previous models, and when it can also return decent fuel economy.
So all is good, but in our view this could be an even better car if it shared the MX-5’s rear-wheel drive layout, rather than its front-wheel drive chassis. This change would banish the wheelspin, and it could transform the 6 into a genuinely rewarding driver’s car when faced with your favourite A and B roads. However the Mazda6 Tourer 184PS GT Sport Nav+ still gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.
As a final note, we’d really like Mazda to continue to offer cars that are great to drive and well designed, but we do have a concern about the brand being reluctant to bring EVs to market. We believe that the switch from petrol and diesel to EVs will take place more quickly than Mazda believes, so the brand appears to have some catching up to do.