Mazda6 2.2 SkyActiv Sport Nav diesel 12 | 02 | 2015Scotcars rating

    Mazda updates its Mazda6 range and goes head-to-head with Ford Mondeo and VW Passat

    YOU NEED TO LOOK closely to spot the changes to the updated Mazda6. But be assured, the styling tweaks to the facelifted model make an already great looking car, even more of a headturner.

    The best model to illustrate the new look is the range-topping Sport Nav. In addition to the subtly restyled nose, grille and signature chrome wing design on the already sleek-looking car, the latest Mazda6 also gets new LED headlamps and daytime running lights.

    But let's get one thing straight right from the start: the Mazda6 is in a extremely tough market place. Not only is it up against the recently introduced new VW Passat, but there's also the latest version of the market-leading Ford Mondeo.

    The reality is though that anyone brave enough to break with tradition, and opt for something that little bit different, will immediately find themselves loving the Mazda.

    Ok, it may lack the premium feel of the VW's cabin, but there's no denying the latest Japanese cabin is a huge improvement on the outgoing model, and — significantly — running costs remain as low as ever.

    The comfy cabin though steals much of the new Mazda6's limelight. There's much more standard kit now across the range, with the seven-inch infotainment system featuring DAB radio and the swivel wheel controller from the Mazda3 adopted.

    Related: New Mazda2 prices revealed

    There's also a new electronic handbrake, new dials and a head-up display, all of which combine to ensure the new model has a much more modern, sharper edge.

    It also remains one of the sharpest, best-handling and engaging cars in its sector. Under its skin, the Japanese manufacturer has ensured this latest Mazda6 now has a softer and more forgiving setup.

    It'll swallow a good amount of luggage too, though not quite as much as the Passat. While the Mazda6's wide and deep bootspace will accommodate 483 litres, that leaps significantly to 1632-litres when you tug the lever releases to fold the 60:40 split rear seats perfectly flat.

    Not surprisingly, it's diesel-power which dominates this sector, so it should comp as no surprise that the 173bhp 2.2-litre SkyActiv diesel with Mazda’s six-speed manual gearbox is one of the 'go to' models. And if you're a business-user, you'll be smiling all the way to the fleet manager's office: thanks to 62.8mpg and 119g/km of CO2 it has a 19% BIK rating.

    But the news gets even better if you prefer to focus on saving pennies than optimising performance. Opt for the 148bhp version of the same engine — which will instantly save you 400 quid on the purchase price — and you get 68.9mpg and 107g/km. Now that's not only attractive, but it trumps the VW and Ford.

    Related: Mazda reveals new MX-5

    And both Mazda SkyActiv engines are quieter on the road. Not only is the suspension softer, which ensures it's capable of suppressing large lumps in the road, but the set-up just feels immediately lighter and relaxed. The combination keeps the cabin free from irritating vibrations, yet the Mazda6 retains all its nimbleness and sharp responses.

    The new Mazda6 also outperforms the latest Mondeo when it comes to turn-in, with the Japanese car sharp and accurate, while enjoying more than acceptable levels of grip at the front-end.

    As a result of its short-throw six-speed manual gearbox, the Mazda6's sporty feel is further accentuated. Yet it's equally comfortable gobbling up the leisurely motorway miles.

    Without question, the VW and Ford will appear more regularly on the road, but if you relish your independence, and like to stand apart from the crowd, while still enjoying one of the best cars in its class, then give the Mazda6 a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    Related: Roadtest — New VW Passat

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £26,795
    Engine / Power: 2.2-litre 4-cyl diesel, six-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive/ 173bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph sec; / Max mph
    How big/heavy?: Lmm Wmm Hmm / kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 62.8mpg combined / 119g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: VW Passat, Ford Mondeo

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