THIS past month the Mazda 6 Atenza has done a fine job of lobbing the kids around and doing the daily grind to and from work. Anyone that’s jumped in for a ride has been complementary of the car’s interior and premium feel. More than enough to bring a proud smile to my face, even if the car isn’t mine.
In the middle of the month the routine was broken by the week-long organised chaos that is COTY. Throughout the year there’s nowhere better to compare the latest and greatest new metal in one location.
Read next: 2018 Mazda 6 Turbo review
While the Camaro, A110 and I-Pace held my interest, there were a choice couple that needed scrutinising – the Camry and Commodore. From this year’s COTY line-up, these two are the closest rivals to the 6.
This year the first round of action took place at the Ford Proving Ground in Sandy Creek. Taking country roads to the event presented the perfect opportunity to stretch the Atenza’s legs.
Surrounded by green farmlands, the Japanese wagon ate up the scenery, demolishing long straights broken by occasional sweeping curves. Taking the punishment from dips, potholes and dirt roads, the 6 never felt unsettled. Mazda has done a brilliant job there. Its suspension almost feels tailored for local conditions.
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In between ferrying cars to wash-bays and photoshoots, I nabbed the keys to the Camry SL V6 and took it for a quick spin. The exterior styling has come a long way, making the 2018 model a visually attractive option. There’s a generously sized interior with great forward vision, although you feel as though you are sitting on the car, not in it. This model had the grandpa-spec beige interior and while quite good, it doesn’t match the 6’s polish and design sophistication.
The engine – a bigger 3.5-litre V6 – really lacks the low-end punch of the Mazda’s 2.5 litre turbo – peak power feels like a lifetime away. If excitement is what you lust for maybe look into the hybrid powertrain with the higher torque figure.
Next was the ZB Commodore. While the RS packs more power and arguably drives better, it’s let down by its interior quality and design. As for space, it’s generous and makes for a great option as a family vehicle at a lower price point.
For me, the 6 presents a better balance of the previous two – reasonable grunt when needed and attractive packaging. The list of standard features leaves out little, and puts pricier vehicles in our current Wheels garage to shame.
The keys are due back soon. Dread is beginning to sink in.