This discreet estate car might be the best car to slip under the radar. That certainly sums up my feelings after a month behind the wheel of the facelifted Mazda6 Tourer. Not only do first impressions suggest it drives as well as just about anything in the executive class, its refreshed interior is a real delight that sets new quality standards for the Japanese manufacturer. Then thereís its 2.2-litre SkyActiv-D engine, thatís proving itself to be one of the smoothest four-cylinder diesels Iíve tried; praise indeed.
The latest design evolution of the Mazda6 might be subtle, but I think it looks great, especially when viewed from the front and when itís painted in Soul Red Crystal Metallic at £800, Mazdaís flagship colour. Its nose boasts a smart new grille pattern and a deeper frame, and the front bumper gains a sharp lower lip and air intakes next to the fog lights. Thereís a hint of Jaguar in this new look that helps mark the Mazda6 out as something a bit different to your average rep-mobile. This upmarket vibe is helped by new LED headlights that blend into the chrome ëwing tipsí emanating from the grille.
When it isnít covered in grime, the Soul Red Crystal certainly does shine brightly. But after our Soul Red CX-5 long-termer became badly stone chipped, weíre also hoping itís more resilient than that car.
Every version of the Mazda6 is well equipped from the off, boasting features like adaptive cruise control and an enlarged eight-inch touchscreen navigation system with three yearsí worth of free European map updates. A full-colour head-up display is also standard, thatís now projected directly onto the windscreen, rather than popping up above the instrument binnacle. Upgrade to the GT Sport Nav+ trim of ëourí car and the instrument panel gains a seven-inch digital central element, while luxury is boosted with Nappa leather seats in a sumptuous shade of dark brown. It can be upgraded to a pale Light Stone colour for £200, which is attractive, but seems impractical for families. The leather seats are heated in the front and back and Japanese Sen Wood trim also adds to the warmth of the interior, while metallic trim dotted around the cabin and even on the seats reminds me of a luxury jetliner.
Mazda engines have regularly impressed us and garnered a loyal following amongst readers, and the latest 2.2-litre SkyActiv-D unit looks set to follow the trend. Now tuned to deliver 181bhp instead of 173bhp, it has been re-developed with variable turbine turbocharger geometry and rapid fuel injection. The result is incredible response at low revs, with the 6 able to gather speed from just above tickover, even when faced with a small incline. The advanced new fuel injection is said to reduce noise and provide a linear sound as you accelerate, and the 2.2-litre powerplant does indeed sound refined, and even quite sporty if you hang on to a gear. Now the running in period is over and Iíve pushed the long-travel accelerator a bit closer to the bulkhead, it has an impressive turn of speed too. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 8.6 seconds and a 140mph top speed means a motorway cruise feels effortless.
As seems to be the Mazda way, there are no Sport modes to worry about or Individual settings to fiddle with, you simply get in and drive. This is made all the more pleasurable by a six-speed manual gearbox thatís precise, and a low-slung driving position. Mazdaís fastidious engineers have lavished attention on the suspension too, improving damping and even stiffening mounting points to improve ride comfort and handling. Itís already proving both rewarding on a back road and pleasingly stable and comfortable on the motorway, so I canít wait to take the long-legged Mazda further afield
Date arrived 6th September 2018
Fuel economy 51.4/65.7/58.6 (combined) 45.15mpg (on test)
Mazda’s 2.2-litre diesel engine is a class act, pulling smoothly from low revs to the red line.
The roller-style parcel shelf is tricky to remove and put back,