Don’t dismiss the traditional four-door family sedan as daggy and dated. Sure, family-focused drivers are flocking to SUVs and hatchbacks. But the impressive new Mazda 6 aims to woo car buyers back to mid-sized sedans.
TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
- The Mazda 6 comes in four models - Sport, Touring, GT and top of the range Atenza. While the Sport comes in petrol only, the Touring, GT and Atenza can also be had with diesel powerplants. All models come in either sedan or wagon body styles.
- The Atenza diesel six-speed automatic sedan tested here, costs from $48,240 (plus onroads). It has a 2.2-litre inline four-cylinder turbo diesel engine delivering 129kW and 420Nm.
- My six-year-old daughter best summed up the Atenza’s luxurious interior; observing the (optional) pure white Nappa leather finishes and using the six-way power adjustment to manoeuvre her passenger seat into an almost horizontal position she exclaimed: “This is the life!” In white the interior feels very schmick.
- Black leather is standard on all Atenza models. And for families, black is what I’d recommend. While the white looks luxe, with kids onboard it won’t stay pristine for long.
- Second row passengers are not treated as an afterthought. Ample leg room and rear air-vents ensure it never gets stuffy in the back. Front and rear seats are heated in Atenza models.
- The boot is a capacious 474 litres with the seats up. It’s deep and will accommodate even the trickiest of prams. Curiously, Mazda told me it does not have a figure for boot capacity in the sedan with seats folded down. For families wanting even more space the wagon offers 506L with the rear seats up.
- It’s quiet. Thanks to Mazda’s new sealing and noise absorption improvements there’s not too much diesel chatter felt or heard in the cabin. The Atenza’s interior was surprisingly free from wind noise even when driving on a day buffeted by 120km/h gales.
- Auto-folding wing mirrors tuck away nicely after parking; no excuse for cyclists to swipe them.
- Mazda has endowed the 6 with plenty of active safety gear, including blind spot monitoring, which alerts drivers to unseen obstacles via a beep and light on the driver’s side mirror; front and rear parking sensors; and a reversing camera.
- There’s a head-up display mounted on a small plastic screen on the dash (as opposed to projected onto the windscreen as in some vehicles). This not only tells you what speed you are travelling at, but how fast you should be driving, by reading speed limit signs.
- The infotainment system’s 7-inch full colour touchscreen display is easy to use. It’s a cinch to hook up an iPhone via Bluetooth and digital radio is also available.
- The Atenza’s 19-inch alloys with low profile tyres err on the side of looks and performance. This means road imperfections are transmitted into the cabin more than in lower-spec models with smaller wheels and taller rubber.
- The fuel-saving stop-start function provides the customary lag away from the lights.
- As you'd expect from a diesel, fuel consumption is a reported low 5.4L/100km. The reality over a 100km inner city driving trip was 9.5L/100km. Over 635km of combined city and freeway driving this dropped to 7.0L/100km.
- A power sliding and tilting sunroof is standard, although on the small side compared to optional panoramic types found in some competitors.
- Mazda offers neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto connectivity. This omission, along with the sedan shape, could deter younger buyers. Not that the Mazda6 is aimed at them in the first place.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Melbourne local the Toyota Camry. Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Liberty, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Skoda Superb.