What's the used Mazda 6 estate like?
Understudies in musicals tend to get overlooked in the face of the show’s billed stars. The Ford Mondeo estate has enjoyed the limelight for many generations now because it offered used buyers a hugely practical car for not a lot of money. Others like the Mazda 6 Tourer have been equally inexpensive, but have somehow fallen shy of the spotlight. However, this third incarnation 6 sports sharper looks, a plusher interior and more efficient engines, so perhaps this time it can supplant the Mondeo to become the best used estate you can buy.
There’s a choice of a 2.0 petrol in 143bhp or 163bhp guise or a 2.2 diesel with 148bhp or 173bhp. Combined with Mazda’s concerted effort to reduce the car’s weight, these engines make the 6 very efficient – especially the less powerful diesel offering. It pulls strongly once you get it up to around 2000rpm, giving you plenty of oomph in the mid-range to make good progress. The diesel in the 6 is rather quiet and relatively free of the usual clatter you associate with diesel engines. The more powerful 173bhp version of this engine produces more boom in the process and also has higher CO2 emissions. The 2.0-litre petrol engine also comes in two states of tune but, with less shove than the diesels, it needs to be worked harder to make similar progress.
Ultimately, the 6 is a pleasant car to drive, with light but predictable steering. Push it hard and the front wheels start to run wide before rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb do, particularly in tight bends. The ride can get a bit choppy over scraggy town roads, especially with the larger wheel options but it settles down enough at motorway speeds to be tolerable. Sticking with smaller wheels helps to make the 6 a decent cruiser with less road noise to disturb you, although there is a flutter of wind noise from the door mirrors at speed.
Improvements were made to the interior in 2015 and helped to make the Mazda 6 feel more upmarket like rivals such as the Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. While there are still some cheap and flimsy plastics around the centre console, most of the dashboard is finished in squidgy materials and all the major buttons and controls have a nicely damped action to them.
Families will appreciate all the various storage spaces dotted around the interior. The Tourer is more spacious for taller passengers in the back because the higher roofline means there’s much more head room than you get in the saloon version. It won’t beat the likes of the Skoda Superb estate for overall volume (few cars can), but you do get a generous amount of luggage space that’ll cope with a couple of large suitcases or a child’s pushchair without issue. Standard 60/40 split rear seats fold down flat with a quick pull of two leavers in the boot, so you won’t need Ikea to deliver your flat pack furniture for you.