First Drive

2017 Mazda 6 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150 review

After being facelifted just last year, the Mazda 6 has received another makeover in 2016 in a bid to improve its dynamic ability, interior quality and equipment levels

Words ByRory White

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It wasn't long ago that the Mazda 6 was given a refresh, but Mazda is at it again in 2016. It has left the 6's exterior look and dimensions as they were but added new driving technology, engine refinement improvements, an uprated interior and more standard equipment on its higher trim levels to help the 6 stay relevant next to rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb.

The most notable change is the addition of G-Vectoring Control or GVC. It's designed to make cornering easier and more stable by easing off the engine very slightly upon turning in to a bend. This moves the weight of the car forward over the front tyres, which in turn grip harder and are more effective. It also makes the car more stable at speed and therefore more comfortable for the driver and passengers. Clever stuff.

Mazda has also worked on its 2.2-litre diesel engine to make it smoother. Meanwhile, improvements to the door seals and sound-deadening materials throughout should result in a quieter driving experience.

Finally, the 6's automatic city brake safety technology now recognises pedestrians and there's more standard equipment for mid-range SE-L Nav and range-topping Sport Nav trims. Some interior plastics have been upgraded, too.

Unusually, but thankfully, Mazda isn't charging a penny more for these enhancements to the old car.

What's the 2017 Mazda 6 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150 like to drive?

Although Mazda has worked to improve its diesel engine's power delivery, it doesn't feel much different. That's no bad thing because this 148bhp version still pulls hard from 1800rpm and doesn't run out of puff too quickly as the revs rise. It's certainly more civilised, though. It feels smoother when pushed and sounds more hushed from the driver's seat.

Mazda wants its G-Vectoring technology to be imperceptible, and that's fortunate, because we weren't able to detect much change at all. Essentially, the 6 remains a decent car to drive, with tight body control, light but precise steering and an eagerness to change direction that falls only just short of a Mondeo's. Its high-speed stability is good, too.

Our test car was fitted with 17in alloy wheels, which allowed for a largely comfortable ride. Our Spanish test route's sharper bumps were felt inside, but as the speed increased, the 6 managed to feel more compliant yet also controlled over motorway undulations.

In fact, motorway journeys are a pleasant experience all round, because Mazda's efforts to improve the 6's door seals and sound-deadening materials have worked. Road and wind noise are kept at bay, while the engine settles to a distant hum.

What's the 2017 Mazda 6 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150 like inside?

The 6 offers a good amount of room for adults in the front and a wide range of seat and wheel adjustment for the driver. Another two adults can sit behind with plenty of head and shoulder room, although their legs will be against the front seatbacks if they're approaching six-foot.

Indeed, a Mondeo or Superb accommodates rear passengers in more comfort, and their boots are both bigger and have the larger hatchback openings for much easier access to their space.

The interior material improvements are minor, focusing on the doors and air vent trims, but they do lift the 6's already solid-feeling environment. A new steering wheel across the range also looks and feels the part. Meanwhile, Mazda's rotary dial and colour touchscreen infotainment system continues to do a brilliant immitation of BMW's iDrive and is every bit as easy to use.

Should I buy one?

The 6 is a commendable choice. It doesn't quite ride or handle as well as a Mondeo, but it has a better-quality interior, provides superior infotainment and is comparably quiet after its enhancements. That Mazda isn't charging any more for its improvements will be attractive to many, too.

That's particularly good news for Sport Nav trim buyers, who now get a head-up display with traffic sign recognition, a heated steering wheel and new electric memory seats thrown in. SEL-Nav trim gets electric-folding mirrors included, too.

The 6 is better, yes, but it's still no class leader. A Superb manages to handle as well and be similarly hushed yet feels even classier inside. That and the fact that it offers vastly superior space, similar equipment and comparable CO2 emissions for less money seal the deal.

What Car? says...

Rated 4 out of 5

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Ford Mondeo

Skoda Superb

Mazda 6 2.2 Skyactiv-D 150

Engine size 2.2-litre diesel

Price from £22,295

Power 148bhp

Torque 280lb ft

0-62mph 9.1sec

Top speed 130mph

Fuel economy (official combined) 68.9mpg

CO2/BIK band 107g/km/21%