BLAME THE Griswolds in National Lampoon’s Vacation. Their horrid 1979 Ford LTD is one of the most hideous examples of a wagon I’ve ever laid eyes on. Not only did it sear my retinas, it also put me off the body shape for over a decade. It wasn’t until Audi came through with the RS4 in 1999 that I paid any attention to cars of that shape. The clean design and brutal performance (mostly) had something to do with it.
Since then I have developed a soft spot for wagons and the possibility of actually owning one has become very real.
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Enter the Mazda 6 Atenza I’m currently the custodian of. For a car that’s been around for almost eight years, its design is doing well to stand the test of time. The boffins at Mazda’s design studio have done an exceptional job of crafting a body that’s good to look at from all angles – in my opinion the wagon looks superior to the sedan.
Things get even better on the inside. The clean and simple design is easy on the eye and even nicer to the touch – the range of materials used are all of exceptional quality with a matching finish. There’s a sense of German influence that other Japanese manufacturers haven’t come close to yet.
One aspect that jarred with me was the central infotainment screen. At times in the past I’ve wondered why Mazda has persisted with a relatively small unit while competitors have gone to cinema-sized displays. Living with it, I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t need to be bigger – all the information needed is presented in a clever format, without redundant info that would only be a distraction. It’s a good execution of KISS – keep it simple, stupid.
The seats are the real treat in the 2018 update. Rolling on 19-inch wheels and tyres, the ride is a bit on the firm side but the seats do a great job of suppressing any spine-jarring jolts that our rubbish roads can dish out.
With Melbourne’s bipolar weather tendencies, the heating and ventilation feature in the front pews is a welcome inclusion on the Atenza’s feature list. Cold morning + toasty seat = nice fuzzy feeling.
Thus far the 6 has been a pleasure to drive day-to-day, my only gripe being with the thick A-pillars that can obscure your vision in some situations.
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If you’re thinking of upgrading, Chevy Chase, please take note.