What's the used Mazda 6 saloon like?
The Mazda 6 had always lived in the shadow of the Ford Mondeo; it did, after all, use the same underpinnings for two generations. However, this third incarnation was a new development of Mazda’s own work and the brand managed to create a very good all-rounder that makes an equally good used purchase.
To start with, the Mazda 6 received new engines: a 2.0 petrol in 143bhp or 163bhp guises 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.
The most widely available trim level is SE-L, which comes with some useful options such as front and rear parking sensors. SE Nav and SE-L Nav have sat-nav and Sport Nav gets a heated steering wheel, heads-up display, electric memory seats and traffic sign recognition.
Whichever trim level you find on the forecourt, you will get a DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, 17in alloy wheels, a leather gearlever and steering wheel, USB connection and, on 2015 cars onwards, that 7.0in touchscreen. This was improved further in October 2016. The infotainment system is backed by an easy-to-use rotary controller and additional shortcut buttons placed just behind the gearlever.
On the road the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel pulls strongly once you get it up to around 2000rpm, giving you plenty of oomph in the mid-range to make good progress in a relaxed fashion. It’s happy to rev freely and it’s smooth, too, without the usual clatter you associate with diesel engines.
The more powerful version of this engine has 173bhp, but produces more boom in the process and this is combined with 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 progress.
Ultimately, the 6 is a pleasant and fun car to drive, with light but predictable steering, but push it hard and the front wheels start to run wide before rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb in tight bends.
The ride can get a bit choppy over scraggy town roads, especially with the larger wheel options – something we’d recommend avoiding – but it settles down at motorway speeds. This helps to make the 6 a decent cruiser with little road noise to disturb your peace, but you do have to put up with a flutter of wind noise from the door mirrors.
There were improvements made to the interior over the years, too, which feels more upmarket than that of 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 high-quality materials and all the major buttons and controls have a nicely damped action to them.
The interior has lots of storage space, including a large glovebox, big door bins – which can cope with one-litre water bottles – and a boot that can handle two large suitcases. What’s more, the 6 comes with a 60/40 folding rear seat as standard to help increase usable boot space. It is hindered by the saloon body shape, as you only get a narrow aperture to load through – a problem that does not affect the 6’s hatchback rivals. What’s more, head room in the rear is a bit limited if your passengers are tall. If this is likely to be a regular issue for you, you might want to look at the Skoda Superb instead.