2018 Mazda 6 Range Review

Mazda 6 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 Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, short service intervals

  3. The Pick: 2018 Mazda 6 Touring 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Mazda 6 is an attractively styled, spacious and sporty medium-sized sedan or wagon. The turbo-diesel and turbo-petrol engines are powerful, and work brilliantly with the automatic gearbox. The 6 is sparing with fuel, and packed with technology. Autonomous emergency braking is standard.

What might bug me?

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

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

The way Mazda is still holding out on introducing convenient Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone pairing for its infotainment system.

Having to take your Mazda 6 in for a service every 10,000km. Most similar vehicles have longer service intervals of at least 15,000km.

What body styles are there?

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Four-door sedan and five-door wagon.

The Mazda 6 drives its front wheels, and it is classed as a medium car, lower priced.

What features does every Mazda 6 have?

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A 8.0-inch colour touchscreen, and a control dial on the centre console for the car’s infotainment systems.

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

A reversing camera, rear parking sensors, and satellite navigation.

Adaptive cruise control, with Stop&Go function for heavy traffic.

Dual-zone air-conditioning (which lets you set different temperatures for each side of the cabin) and rear air vents.

Windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains.

A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift lever.

Paddle-shift gear controls on the steering wheel.

LED headlights with high-beam control, LED tail-lights, and front fog-lights.

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

Autonomous 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 lift a foot off the brake pedal to 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.

Electric parking brake, with auto-hold that prevents the car rolling when you stop at traffic lights. Hill-start assist.

A head-up display (Mazda calls it Active Driving 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.

Lane keeping assist and lane departure warning.

Auto-dimming rearview mirror, and power-folding, heated external mirrors.

Driver’s lumbar support, and seat-back pockets.

Keyless start and remote central locking.

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

All Mazda wagons have, in addition, a rear-window wiper, cargo area cover, cargo net, rear spoiler and roof rails.

Every Mazda 6 carries a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

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

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The gutsier 2.2-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel, which has significantly increased its performance, uses the least fuel, recording a brilliant figure of 5.3 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

The 2.5-litre petrol engine that has long held-up the cheaper end of the Mazda 6 range consumes 7.0 litres/100km, but isn’t as gutsy as the diesel.

A more powerful turbocharged version of the 2.5-litre petrol engine, found in the Mazda CX-9 SUV, was added to Mazda 6 range in May 2018. It offers the best performance of the three engines but is also the thirstiest, consuming 7.6 litres/100km on the combined cycle. It is tuned to run on cheaper 91RON fuel, though.

All three engines are linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

One reason why you might not choose the economical twin-turbocharged 2.2-litre turbo diesel is that it costs about $3000 more than the standard non-turbo 2.5-litre petrol engine, or $1100 more than the new single-turbocharger petrol engine. A second is that the diesel is not available in the least costly model, the Mazda 6 Sport.

You might also want sportier performance, offered by the 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, though this is only available in the more expensive Mazda 6 GT and Atenza versions.

Another reason is that you mostly drive around town for short trips that aren’t suited to diesel engines.

Both diesel- and petrol-turbos are excellent engines, providing strong performance across a wide range of driving conditions. They are worth the budget stretch, if you can manage it.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The least costly Mazda 6 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats and the 2.5-litre petrol engine.

Moving up to the Mazda 6 Touring gets you leather trim, 10-way power adjustable front seats, and a driver’s seat that remembers your adjustments. There are LED daytime running lights, front parking sensors, advanced keyless entry, and a better-sounding Bose brand audio system.

The Touring comes standard with the 2.5-litre petrol engine. The 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel is available for an extra $3000.

The more sporty GT comes with the 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine as standard, with the diesel available for an extra $1100. The GT also brings 19-inch wheels, fitted with lower-profile tyres that sharpen steering response. It has a choice of black or white leather trim, front and rear seat heaters, and an adaptive front lighting system (which swivels the headlamp beams to help you see into corners).

The most expensive Mazda 6, the Atenza, has the same engine choices as the GT. Inside, the cabin is trimmed more richly in Pure White or Walnut Brown Nappa leather and doors and dashboard features have Real Sen wood inserts.

The Atenza also gains LED ambient cabin lighting, ventilated front seats, 360-degree view parking monitor, a frameless interior mirror, 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.

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

How comfortable is the Mazda 6?

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The Mazda 6 is very comfortable, especially on the 17-inch wheels and tyres of Sport and Touring versions.

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 longer drives. 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 Mazda 6?

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All Mazda 6 variants rate as Standout on the WhichCar scale. Even the least-expensive Mazda 6 Sport has six airbags, stability control, active cruise control, high-speed autonomous emergency braking, forward and reverse city-speed auto-braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitors, a rear vision camera, rear parking sensors, and a cross-traffic alert for reversing.

The Touring, GT and Atenza also have front parking sensors.

The Mazda 6 has 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.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mazda 6 sedan and wagon its maximum five stars for safety.

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

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.

All Mazda 6s benefit from the Japanese car maker’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 it helps the car feel more planted, and change direction more fluidly.

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

The wagon actually handles better than the sedan on tight, twisty roads via an 80mm shorter wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear wheel axles.

The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine performs well for sporty driving, a surprise given that turbo-diesels, while typically powerful, are not usually much fun. This is a great engine that offers forceful thrust from low to middle engine speeds – almost 70 per cent more thrust than the non-turbo petrol – yet will happily spin 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 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, however, provides excellent acceleration, and while Mazda has yet to provide an official 0-100km sprint time we reckon it will get there in less than 7.0 seconds.

The automatic gearbox works well on its own, and the paddle-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 Mazda 6 is spacious, comfortable and well presented. The 6 sedan’s longer wheelbase translates directly into extra legroom, 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, Mazda 6 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 474-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.

Mazda 6 Sport and Touring variants with the standard 2.5-litre petrol engine have a 1500kg braked towing capacity, while all turbo diesel and turbo petrol models can tow up to 1600kg.

Where is the Mazda 6 made?

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The Mazda 6 is manufactured in Japan.

Are there any other medium-sized cars I should consider?

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The Mazda 6 holds up very well against its medium sedan and wagon rivals in terms of equipment, engine choices, comfort and practicality.

These include the Toyota Camry, Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Passat, Honda Accord, Subaru Liberty and the Ford Mondeo.

It’s also spacious enough to be considered alongside the bigger, imported Holden Commodore and the Skoda Superb.

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 more powerful, economical turbo-diesel is the pick of the three 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).

That said, the turbocharged petrol engine, borrowed from the 2017 Wheels Car of the Year award-winning Mazda CX-9 people-mover, wrapped in a GT sedan, would also make for a great family tourer.

Are there plans to update the Mazda 6 soon?

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The current GJ series Mazda 6 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.

Another significant update in June 2018 introduced the turbocharged petrol engine, redesigned the interior from the front seats forward (including much better integration of the driver’s head-up display) and much of the front and rear of the exterior, added even more performance and better fuel economy for the diesel engine, and added and a broader range of standard features to the lower-spec versions.