2017 Mazda6 Review

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2015 Mazda6 Touring sedan

Priced From $32,490Information

Overall Rating

0

4.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

5 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

5 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

5 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProHandling; comfort; space; technology; styling; fuel efficiency.

  2. ConNo smart-key entry on less costly versions.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Mazda 6 Touring 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Mazda6 is an attractively styled, spacious and sporty medium-sized sedan or wagon. The turbo-diesel engine is powerful, and both it and the petrol engine work brilliantly with the automatic gearbox. The 6 is sparing with fuel, and packed with technology. Auto braking is standard.

What might bug me?

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Driving past parking spots because your Mazda6 won’t fit. The 6 is big for a medium-sized car – it’s almost five metres long.

Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.

What body styles are there?

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Four-door sedan and five-door wagon.

The Mazda6 drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a medium car, lower priced.

What features does every Mazda6 have?

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Cruise control, and dual-zone air-conditioning (which lets you set different temperatures for each side of the cabin).

A reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and satellite navigation. Windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains.

A 7-inch colour touchscreen, and a control dial on the centre console for the car’s infotainment systems.

Internet radio integration (including the apps Pandora, Stitcher and Aha), Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio connectivity, and steering wheel audio controls.

A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift lever, and front foglights.

Aluminium alloy wheels, which are usually lighter and better looking than steel wheels, and a space-saver steel spare wheel.

Automatic emergency braking that works at speeds up to 80km/h: It alerts you, and if necessary brakes the car, should you be in danger of hitting an object in front.

Blind spot monitoring (which warns when changing lanes that a vehicle is alongside), and rear cross-traffic alert (warning when reversing that something is crossing your path).

Mazda’s efficiency enhancing, i-Stop and i-Eloop systems. The former saves fuel by shutting off the engine when you stop, and restarting it when you press the accelerator to drive away. The latter recovers energy during braking and stores it as electricity, which helps power the heating, lights and other functions.

G-Vectoring Control, a Mazda technology that makes the car respond more consistently to the steering wheel.

Six airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; and curtain airbags on each side that protect front and rear occupants at head level.

Electronic stability control, which helps you control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.

Of nine metallic and mica colours, seven are available standard.

Every Mazda6 carries a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel uses the least fuel, recording a brilliant figure of 5.4 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

One reason why you might choose the other engine, a 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder, is that the diesel engine option adds nearly $3000 to the cost of the car. A second is that the diesel is not available in the least costly model, the Mazda6 Sport.

The 2.5 petrol, at 6.6 litres/100km officially, is also a commendably fuel-efficient engine.

However, the Mazda6 diesel is an excellent engine, providing strong performance across a wide range of driving conditions. It is worth the stretch, if you can manage it.

Both engines drive only through a six-speed automatic gearbox.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Moving up from the least costly Sport to the Mazda6 Touring gets you leather trim (in a choice of black or white), power adjustable front seats, and a driver’s seat that remembers your adjustments.

There are daytime running lights (which improve visibility) and foglights, and these lights and the headlamps rely on very long-lived and bright LEDs. The low-speed auto braking also works when reversing. And the Touring has a Bose brand audio system, and adds front parking sensors.

The more sporty GT brings 19-inch wheels, fitted with lower-profile tyres that sharpen steering response. It has a power-operated glass sunroof, front and rear seat heaters, and an adaptive front lighting system (which swivels the headlamp beams to help you see into corners).

Keyless entry allows you to unlock the doors while the key remains safe in a pocket or bag.

A head-up display projects a speedo and sat-nav instructions onto a transparent tile near your line of sight, which makes it easier to monitor them while driving. The display also shows the speed limit in force, using Mazda’s Traffic Sign Recognition.

The most expensive Mazda6, the Atenza, trims the cabin more richly in Nappa leather, and adds advanced safety systems aimed at helping you avoid a crash.

Perhaps the most significant of these is a second, camera and radar based, automatic emergency braking system that works at speeds up to 160km/h. It alerts you, and if necessary brakes the car, should you be in danger of hitting an object in front. Other systems help you stay in your lane, and prod you if you seem to be falling asleep.

The Atenza also has automatic cruise control, which maintains a safe distance from vehicles ahead, and multi-element, active LED headlamps. These automatically dim only a part of the high beam for other drivers – the part that might dazzle them – leaving you with better illumination to either side.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The 19-inch wheels and tyres on GT and Atenza versions reduce low-speed ride comfort compared with the 17-inch wheels and tyres fitted to Sport and Touring versions.

The white leather option will show dirt and stains that would not be visible on the alternative black leather.

The blind-spot monitoring system, while very useful, is not infallible and can be caught out in some circumstances. An example is when you are indicating to turn a corner on a dual-lane road: the system can perceive this as an attempt to change lanes, and emit a warning beep.

Soul Red and Machine Grey metallic paints come at additional cost.

How comfortable is the Mazda6?

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The Mazda6 is very comfortable, especially on the 17-inch wheels and tyres of Sport and Touring versions, and more so since it was upgraded early in 2015, when suspension settings were softened.

The GT and Atenza versions, which roll on 19-inch wheels and tyres, remain compliant over big bumps, but the lower profile tyres mean that small, sharp road imperfections are felt by occupants.

The Mazda 6 has a tilt- and reach-adjustable steering column, and height and lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat, and yet it can be difficult to get the driving ergonomics just right. The comfort of the seats, however, is good for drives of up to two hours. The powered seats in most versions aid ease of adjustment, and the driver’s seat memory function is handy.

The quality of the plastics, textiles and carpets in the cabin is high, and the presentation of the instruments and controls is neat and logical. The most expensive models add leather trim to the dash and other interior surfaces, and are more appealingly presented inside.

The Mazda6 is largely free of vibration, harshness and wind noise inside, though there is some tyre roar on the coarse chip surfaces often found in the country.

What about safety in a Mazda6?

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All Mazda6 variants rate as Standout on the WhichCar scale. Even the Mazda 6 Sport has six airbags, stability control, low-speed automatic braking, blind-spot monitors, a rear vision camera, rear parking sensors, and a cross-traffic alert for reversing. The Touring and GT also have front parking sensors, and their auto braking works in reverse. The Atenza adds high-speed auto braking, active cruise control, lane-keep assist and selectively auto-dimming headlamps, among other features.

The sheer number of safety systems at work in the Atenza can be bewildering at first, but with familiarity each becomes valuable.

(To see a list of the safety features on any model, open the model from the Cars Covered By This Review dropdown near the top of this page, and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mazda6 sedan and wagon its maximum five stars for safety.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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Yes, you will enjoy driving the Mazda 6 – it is among the best handling mid-size family cars.

Strengths include well-judged suspension settings that offer a great balance of comfort and handling. This makes the Mazda as swift and enjoyable over lumpy roads as it is on freshly laid tarmac.

Cars on sale since September 2016 benefit from Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control, whose operating principle is simpler than the name might suggest. It adjusts the engine when you turn the steering wheel, decelerating slightly so as to transfer load to the front tyres and help them bite (and reversing the process as you return to centre). You don’t notice it working but the car feels more planted, while changing direction more fluidly.

The 19-inch tyres on the GT and Atenza noticeably increase the sharpness of the steering and the crispness of the handling, as well as the overall roadholding limit.

The wagon has an 80mm shorter wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear wheel axles – than the sedan, which makes it noticeably more agile on tight, twisty roads.

The turbo-diesel engine performs surprisingly well for sporty driving. Surprisingly, because turbo-diesels, while typically powerful, are not usually much fun. The Mazda’s oil-burning 2.2-litre is a great engine that offers forceful thrust from low to middle engine speeds – almost 70 per cent more thrust than the petrol – yet happily spins into its upper reaches. It even makes a nice, purposeful sound while accelerating quickly.

The petrol 2.5-litre sounds even better, and spins sweetly. It is a very good, enjoyable engine, but it can’t match the potency or fuel efficiency of the diesel.

The automatic gearbox works well on its own, and the paddle gear shifters behind the steering wheel (on all versions) bring a manual mode and extra enjoyment for spirited driving.

How is life in the rear seats?

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The rear seat area of the Mazda6 is spacious, comfortable and well-presented. The 6 sedan’s longer wheelbase translates directly into extra leg room, and that’s already generous in the wagon. Head, foot and shoulder room are equally plentiful.

The seat cushion comfort and under-thigh support is terrific, and the backrest angle is very close to ideal. Air-conditioning vents in the back are a welcome feature, especially for children prone to car sickness.

The big, broad Mazda6 can fit three adults across its back seat in greater comfort than some other medium cars.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Mazda6 sedan has a 483 litre boot. It is not the biggest in a medium car, but it can swallow a lot of luggage.

The wagon is better still, offering 506 litres of cargo capacity with its rear seatbacks upright, expanding to 1648 litres with the 60/40 seats folded.

Where is the Mazda6 made?

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The Mazda 6 is manufactured in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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In the Mazda6 Sport and Touring, the convenience of smart keyless entry. You have to pay for at least a Mazda6 GT to get this feature, which is often found in cheaper versions of other medium cars.

Side airbags for rear-seat passengers, which cushion upper bodies from side-impacts. (They augment side-curtain airbags, which are placed at head level.) The Volkswagen Passat offers these, for example.

Perhaps a stronger, turbocharged, petrol engine, for quicker overtaking. The Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Ford Mondeo, for example, can be ordered with engines much more powerful than those offered in the Mazda6.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The Mazda 6 Touring diesel wagon is our pick of the line-up. The wagon is roomier, more practical and better handling than the sedan, as well as (arguably) better-looking. The powerful, economical turbo-diesel is absolutely the pick of the two engines, and it is offered only from the Touring upwards.

The Touring is also the sweet spot in terms of equipment versus cost (and ride comfort, thanks to its 17-inch tyres).

Are there plans to update the Mazda6 soon?

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The current GJ series Mazda6 was launched in Australia in December 2012, and a revised series-two version arrived in February 2015. In February 2016, Mazda added as standard to all versions the features previously available only at extra cost in its Safety Pack. These included low-speed auto braking, and blind spot monitoring.

A minor upgrade in September 2016 brought enhanced steering from G-Vectoring Control, extended the effective speed range of both auto braking systems, reduced road noise slightly, and refined the already excellent diesel engine. Interior trims received minor revision.

An all-new Mazda6 is due about 2018.