The Mazda6 is something of a hero model for its brand at the moment and it’s the flagship Limited turbo diesel version that gets most of the kudos
Base price: $49,795. Powertrain and performance: 2.5-litre petrol four, 138kW/250Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 6.6 litres per 100km. Vital statistics: 4800mm long, 1480mm high, kerb weight 1484kg, luggage capacity 451 litres, fuel tank 62 litres, 17-inch wheels on 225/55 Toyo Proxes tyres. We like: Style, good to drive, sense of engineering integrity. We don’t like: Relatively expensive, not as spacious as sedan. How it rates: 8/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? The Mazda6 is something of a hero model for its brand at the moment and it’s the flagship Limited turbo diesel version that gets most of the kudos: the SkyActiv oil-burning engine is every bit as impressive as premium European product and the high equipment levels of the Limited really do take the car upmarket in a convincing way. But are the mainstream family/fleet models as impressive? Enter the mid-range Mazda6 GSX wagon, with a 2.5-litre petrol engine.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? While the petrol powerplant does not quite serve up the headline figures and sheer driver-appeal of Mazda’s diesel, it’s still from the SkyActiv family and it does still sit near the top of the class for sophistication and sheer efficiency. There’s a solid base of engineering underneath the Mazda6 and you could even argue that you get more of the benefit in a mainstream model, since you’re enjoying the same technological advances as the upmarket versions but not paying for the extra window dressing. The latest Mazda6 is not as overtly sporting as the previous generation: the steering is not as communicative and the chassis is not as sharp. There’s a sense that it’s grown up a lot, which is why being less lively does not necessarily means there’s less driver enjoyment. The difference is in sophistication and a broader range of abilities.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Mazda no longer makes a hatchback version of this car, so it’s up to the wagon to be the sleek-looking one. Indeed it is, the sporty look helped by the fact that the five-door is smaller than the sedan: 80mm shorter in the wheelbase and 65mm less overall length. Why? Long story short, the sedan is aimed at Asia and America, whereas the wagon is directed more towards a European design and packaging ethos. So don’t be too hard on the fact that the wagon only has about the same bootspace as the four-door version (there’s a mere 13 litres difference). It’s still generous at 451 litres and you get the extra practicality of one-touch folding seats and a tonneau cover that’s actually attached to the tailgate, so it lifts out of the way as soon as you open the door. The Mazda6 cabin dresses up quite well in the top Limited versions. Go more mainstream, as with our GSX, and what strikes you is the combination of decent quality materials with pleasing simplicity in the layout. The GSX still has a few luxuries on board, though: satellite navigation (with a TomTom unit integrated into the dashboard) and parking camera, for example.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? The biggest problem for the GSX wagon is the New Zealand love of crossover vehicles. Mazda itself has a direct rival in the form of the excellent CX-5, which is available with the same powertrains. It will come down to personal preference of course, but the Mazda6 wagon does provide plenty of reasons to stick with a more tradition wagon format: it boasts confident and sporty styling, a good deal of engineering integrity and – dare we say – just a little more dignity than a compact-crossover.
EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST Air conditioning: Dual climate with rear vents Audio: CD, iPod compatible Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes Blind spot warning: No Bluetooth: Yes Cruise control: Yes Driver footrest: Yes Gas discharge headlights: No Gearchange paddles: No Head-up display: No Heated/ventilated seats: No/No Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes Lane guidance: No Leather upholstery: No Parking radar: Yes with camera Power boot or tailgate: No Power seat adjustment/memory: No Remote audio controls: Yes Satellite navigation: Yes, integrated TomTom Seat height adjustment: Yes Self-parking technology: No Split/folding rear seats: 60/40, one-touch folding Steering reach adjustment: Yes Stop-start: Yes Trip computer: Yes
Find a Madza6 GSX HERE