The Mazda6 was first released back in 2002, replacing the 626. The current third-generation car has been around since 2012 and has recently been facelifted and improved. One of our family cars is a 2002 last-model 626, and it’s still going strong, with 275,000km on the clock and everything still functional. This is a real testament to Mazda’s build quality and reliability. The 6 tested here is at least 20 years newer in design, safety, technology and efficiency but the form factor is similar to our old workhorse.

The Range

The Mazda6 can be ordered in either sedan or wagon forms, entry level being the $43,793 2.0l petrol GLX wagon, or the $46,745 2.5l GSX Sedan. A 2.2l diesel GSX will cost you just over $2k more. The top of the range is Limited spec, tested here, at $55,995 for the petrol sedan, or $58,245 for the diesel Limited in sedan or wagon form. There’s no petrol Limited wagon listed as available in New Zealand.

Standard features include front, side and curtain airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, ABS, DSC, EBD, Emergency Brake Assist, Traction Control, whiplash minimising front seats, one-touch windows all round, reversing camera, secondary collision reduction, i-Stop, Skyactiv 6-speed auto transmission, automatic air conditioning (manual in the GLX), 4 speakers (6 in the GSX, 11 in the Limited), 7” central touch screen, push button start.

Higher specs get various extras including i-Eloop regenerative braking which can save up to 10% on fuel, dual-zone climate control, LED adaptive headlights, power front seats, bigger wheels – the list goes on

Apart from Mazda’s gorgeous Soul Red Metallic, the colour choices are pretty muted – silver, black, grey, titanium (which looks brown on the press photos), two blues and a white.

First Impressions

Our test car came in white, or as Mazda would prefer, Snowflake White Pearl Mica. It’s one of those whites which looks pretty flat until the sun hits it, bringing out the depth and flake in the paint. The Mazda6 is a car that I think looks great in any colour, but I do like the way the white acts to tone down the silver trims, which can be a bit too bling for my taste against darker colours.

I really like the current Mazda design language, and the 6 is no exception to that. It’s a handsome car, with lots of nice details.

Inside this Limited spec model there’s black and dark brown leather everywhere and it’s really pleasant. The sunroof and light fabric on the headliner and pillars stop it from feeling too dark.  Where a lot of cars in this segment have plastic on the centre console and doors, Mazda have gone a little further and added padded leather. It works well and gives a luxurious feel. One thing that looks a little like an afterthought is the 7” central screen which sits on top of the dash rather than being integrated. This is similar to other Mazdas and has obviously been designed that way, but I’m not keen on the look.

The Inside

As I mentioned above, the Mazda6 is very nicely trimmed, with contrasting stitching, and padded bits and pieces on the doors, console and dash. The front seats are electrically adjustable and heated, with memory on the driver’s side. The steering wheel adjusts manually for reach and height. The seats are comfortable too, with good side support and just the right amount of padding. The rear seats are just as comfortable, with lots of legroom. Flip down the centre arm rest/cup holder and you’ll find controls for three-stage rear seat heaters.

The rear seatbacks fold completely flat to fit in larger items to the already generous 474-litre boot, and are split 60/40.

The gear shifter and steering wheel are leather-trimmed, with nice shaping on the wheel. In the centre are easily accessible buttons to control the phone, stereo and cruise control. Mazda have opted for a three-dial dash with a central speedo, rev counter, and a circular fully digital multi-function gauge which can show various information including trip computer, fuel economy, satnav directions, music track, even a compass.

In addition to this is a colour heads-up display projected onto a pop-up plastic screen behind the instrument binnacle. Its height and angle can be adjusted for the perfect position for different drivers. This HUD is well integrated into the various systems such as satnav and lane departure warning.

There’s a good-sized glovebox, which is lined with fuzzy stuff to stop rattles, as well as a storage cubby in the centre armrest, and two cup holders under a roller cover. The central cubby has the USB, aux and SD card slots for the stereo. Bluetooth can also be used and various apps are available. There’s even a CD player included, something that’s becoming rare these days. The stereo and various car systems are controlled using a central jog-wheel control which is easy to use and soon becomes second-nature to operate.

The Limited spec includes the Bose premium audio system with 11 speakers and a 231-watt amplifier, and it’s very good indeed. If you have your phone connected, the media system will read texts and emails, and it’s good at it too, with quite a natural-sounding voice.

The satnav is clear with good directions, and shows 3D buildings in the city. The heads-up display shows the next turn so you don’t need to look away from the road. The HUD also shows the current road speed, which it gets by reading speed limit signs. I found this to be very fast and accurate, and a really good system, having the speed limit shown at all times. It even read the digital signs on overhead gantries on the new Wellington smart motorway.

The Drive

My first impressions were that the 6 has a feel of weight and solidity to it, and that it seemed pretty wide. It’s no wider than average for its class, so maybe it’s just those curved front wings. I felt the same in car parks a couple of times but never had any issues putting the car where I wanted it. As is often the case, when I collected the Mazda6 my first drive was in stop/start traffic out of Wellington. I thought this would be a great opportunity to test the MRCC radar cruise control, but was disappointed to find that it only worked at speeds of above 25kph. At those speeds it works brilliantly, and active steering assist can also be turned on to do some of the cornering for you.

There’s blind spot monitoring, which turns on an LED in the side mirror if your blind spot is occupied, and also adds a subtle swoosh at the appropriate side of the HUD. If you indicate in that direction the swoosh turns red and the LED flashes. There’s also DRSS – Distance Recognition Support System – which tells you if you’re driving too close to the car in front, and can automatically brake if you’re likely to hit something, preventing or reducing the severity of a crash.

Out of traffic it became apparent that the Mazda6 is smooth, quiet and refined to drive. It would be an excellent long-distance cruiser. Road and wind noise are well damped, enabling you to hear that excellent stereo even more clearly.

Once you get the Mazda6 on a winding back road, engaging Sport mode allows you to shift manually with the paddles or the gear shifter. And unlike most cars it doesn’t shift up for you if you hit the red line. There is a fraction of a second delay when shifting  manually, which can be a little irritating. When pushed, the 2.5l four cylinder makes quite a nice growl.

Mazda use a system called G-vectoring control. This is what they say about it: “GVC precisely adjusts engine torque, in response to steering inputs, to manage G-forces in a unified and smooth manner, which optimises the vertical loading of each tyre. The result is natural, precise handling in line with the driver’s intentions. There is less need for steering corrections and more comfort for every occupant. Mazda continuously strives to improve the connection between vehicle and driver, so that the vehicle responds faithfully to driver inputs as if it were an extension of the driver’s own body. We refer to this special connection as “Jinba Ittai”, which means “horse and rider as one”.”

The 6 certainly corners well, going exactly where it’s pointed, but it feels like it’s protesting a little about being made to do it. After a bit of spirited driving it’s clear that it’s much more of a comfortable cruiser than a sports car. And of course that’s no bad thing.


The Competition

Brand / Model Engine Power Fuel L/100km 0-100km/h Price Highest to Lowest
Honda Accord Sedan 3.5l 6 cylinder 206kW/339Nm 9.2 $60,000
Subaru Levorg 2.0l 4 cylinder turbo 197kW/350Nm 8.7 $56,990
Mazda 6 Sedan Limited 2.5l 4 cylinder 138kW/250Nm 6.6 $55,995
Hyundai Sonata 2.0l 4 cylinder turbo 180kW/350Nm 9.2 $55,990
Holden Commodore SV6 3.6l 6 cylinder 210kW/350Nm 9.0 $55,990
VW Passat R-Line Sedan 1.8l 4 cylinder turbo 132kW/250Nm 5.8 $55,490
Toyota Aurion Sportivo 3.5l 6 cylinder 200kW/336Nm 9.3 $54,190
Ford Mondeo Titanium 2.0l 4 cylinder turbo 177kW/345Nm 8.5 $53,990
Nissan Altima Ti 2.5l 4 cylinder 127kW/230Nm 7.5 $53,290
Kia Optima LTD 2.4l 4 cylinder 138kW/241Nm 8.3 $48,990

The pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Quiet and smooth
  • Solid and well put together
  • Excellent stereo
  • Comfortable
  • Good warranty
  • Looks great
  • Radar cruise could be better

What we think

The Mazda6 is in a segment that’s shrinking in favour of SUVs, but I think there’s still plenty of room for a car like this. It’s roomy, comfortable, smooth, refined, has a solid, quality feel to it. The safety and equipment levels are high, and it’s good value compared to its peers. Plus with a 5 year unlimited km warranty and 3 year servicing included it’s definitely one to check out.

Rating – Chevron rating 4.5 out of 5

Vehicle Type Family Sedan
Starting Price $55,995 + on-road costs
Tested Price $55,995 + on-road costs
Engine SKYACTIV-G 2.5 litre in-line, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC S-VT petrol engine with i-stop and i-ELOOP
Transmission SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed Automatic with Manual Mode and Paddle Shifters
0 – 100 kph Not quoted
Kerb Weight 1507 kg
Length x Width x Height 4865 x 1840 x 1450mm
Cargo Capacity 474 Litres
Fuel Tank 62 litres
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  6.6L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  8.6L / 100km

ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 stars
Warranty 3 years/100,000km servicing

5 year unlimited kilometre Mazda On Call Roadside Assistance

5 year unlimited kilometre Mazda Genuine Factory Warranty
5 year unlimited kilometre Corrosion and Anti-perforation Warranty

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Rob Clubley
I love everything about cars! Driving, looking at them, modifying. It's great to see what people do with cars, the different car cultures. If I was rich, my garage would be bigger than my house!


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