This is the 2013 Mazda 6 saloon, tested here for the first time with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox, which transfers the 2.2-litre diesel engine's 172bhp to the road.
What's the 2013 Mazda 6 2.2D Skyactiv-D 175 automatic like to drive?
This higher-powered version of Mazda's 2.2-litre diesel engine is a long way from smooth, which is odd given that the 148bhp model is so silky. It's a pretty gruff thing when you start it up, and it remains a vocal companion when you're on the move.
The six-speed automatic gearbox is fairly old-school, too. While it changes between ratios smoothly enough, it's always a little slow to respond, and it sends the revs soaring when you press the accelerator pedal. You can take control of changes yourself (by using either the steering wheel-mounted paddles or the gearlever itself), but this rather defeats the purpose of an driving an auto, doesn't it?
The rest of the car is the same as any other Mazda 6. That means you get a pretty sporty driving experience, with tight body control and impressive performance. Unfortunately, it also means you get a ride that's too firm, and steering that's too vague and nervous on the motorway.
What's the 2013 Mazda 6 2.2D Skyactiv-D 175 automatic like inside?
The dashboard is pretty clear and easy to use, but the materials it's made from are a little disappointing in a car costing more than 25,000. The optional sat-nav system looks like an aftermarket addition, too.
That said, there's plenty of space for three of the cabin's occupants, although the outer two rear-seat occupants may find their heads brushing the ceiling because of the way it slopes inwards at the edges.
There's a decent boot behind, although the fact that the 6 isn't available as a hatchback will limit its popularity. If you need more space, there's always the Tourer (estate) version.
The 2.2D Skyactiv-D 175 auto is available only in range-topping Sport trim, which means you get lots of equipment, including 19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, a reversing camera, leather trim and keyless entry.
Should I buy one?
This is the most expensive Mazda 6 saloon you can buy, and it's further hampered by an engine that's noisy and a gearbox that's too slow-witted.
It doesn't stack up as a company car, either, because it sits in the 20% band for company car tax. That means you'll have to sacrifice more of your monthly salary than if you'd gone for a BMW 320d ED auto, which also happens to be a much more accomplished car.
If you need an automatic Mazda 6, you'd be far better off going for a mid-spec model with the 148bhp engine, which is quieter, smoother, more economical and much more affordable.
What Car? says...
Engine size 2.2-litre diesel
Price from 25,495
Torque 309lb ft
0-62mph 7.9 seconds
Top speed 139mph
Fuel economy 58.9mpg
By Euan Doig