Mazda has recently introduced its Skyactiv engine technology on cars such as the CX-5 and all-new Mazda 6. It means that family cars can now offer supermini-like fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
However, Mazdas previous-generation 6 was on sale for five years, so there are plenty of used examples on the forecourts. While the engines werent quite as clean as the Skyactiv units, some bargain prices and the fact that diesel versions average more than 50mpg could make it a similarly attractive proposition.
The original Mazda 6 ('02-'07) set a high standard on the used car market for value, but this newer model ('07-'12) might just beat it.
This later version of the 6 is larger but also lighter than the car it replaced. The weight loss helps it feel nimble and grippy. The ride is on the firm side, but it shouldn't cause any discomfort, and while the Mazda isn't quite as refined as class leaders such as the Ford Mondeo, it's still relaxed.
The hatchback opening gives excellent access to the large boot (there's also a rarer saloon version), while the rear seats fold down flat in case you need extra space. Go for the estate version and youre treated to 512 litres of load space.
Mazda's interior design gives it a sporty feel, but some of the materials are a little cheap. There's good legroom for five adults, but headroom could be better in the back.
Petrol power comes in the form of a 118bhp 1.8-litre, or a 145bhp 2.0-litre that's almost as efficient, offering average economy of around 40mpg. There is a 2.5-litre petrol engine, but it's rare and expensive to run.
This version of the 6 was originally available with a 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, which was punchy but a little raucous. That said, it could still manage average economy of 50mpg.
However, we'd recommend the 2.2-litre diesel introduced in early '09 available with 123bhp, 161bhp or 182bhp. We'd opt for the 161bhp version because it delivers useful performance and averages 51.4mpg, while emitting a reasonable 147g/km of CO2.
Entry-level S trim comes with air-con, alloys and electric windows. The TS adds cruise control and dual-zone climate control. Our choice, the TS2, has automatic headlights, Bluetooth and a CD changer, while the Sport gets bigger wheels and a distinctive bodykit.
Sport Luxury brings leather seats and parking sensors. All models come with stability control and six airbags.
Mazda enjoys an excellent reliability record, but there are still things to be on the look out for. The older 2.0-litre diesel engine can suffer with lubrication problems, where fuel finds its way into the oil system.
The gearbox on diesel models can become stiff and reluctant to change gear, but dealers should be able to resolve this.
Other issues include the air-con system leaking coolant, plus creaks and squeaks from the dashboard and centre consol.
There arent many recalls to report on this second-generation 6; the only two were both to cure engine failure on the 2.5 petrol model. Its possible that its piston pins could work loose, wearing the cylinder bores and eventually cutting the engine.
We found these on the forecourt:
Mazda 6 2.2D TS2 163 4dr
'09/09, 26,000 miles, 8995
Mazda 6 Estate 2.2D 163 TS2
09/59, 46,000 miles, 9400
Nigel Bishop Motoring