I hate to say it, but the Mazda6 Tourer hasnít been on a great deal of long motorway trips under my tenure. Blame moving house, the Christmas break and atrocious weather, but the Tourer has been subjected to mainly local trips. Happily, I was able to correct the situation on a recent jaunt to the Lake District, and celebrate getting another year older.
As motorway trips go, itís one of my favourites, with spectacular views as the M6 climbs north of Holme, clinging to steep hillsides as it passes the excellent Killington and Tebay services. And because we usually find ourselves heading along it early in the morning or after a day of walking, spectacular sunsets often accompany the drive home, bursting through the clouds at high altitude.
Itís also a stretch with the sort of climbs that see lorries slow to a crawl, vans smoke under the strain and superminis drop into a lower gear. Thereís none of that in the Mazda6 though, because the exhaust note from its 2.2-litre diesel barely even changes. Neither does its speed, which is steadfast in the cruise control, as witnessed via the head-up display. In fact, the only time the speed readout hovering over the road ahead does change, is when a stray vehicle pulls into your path. As with every car fitted with adaptive cruise control Iíve sampled, the Mazda6 is a little too quick to scrub off speed when this does happen ñ a nannying safety feature no doubt. Possibly for the sake of fuel economy, the system also seems to hesitate slightly when the road clears again. In fairness, itís probably just a few seconds, but it can feel uncomfortable when you see the BMW in your rear-view mirror lunge towards your back bumper. A gentle squeeze of the accelerator helps things along, goading the speed to get back to its target more quickly, and no doubt burning more fuel at the same time.
Should you need to pass slower traffic, the Mazda is certainly happy to oblige. In fact, its ability to accelerate even at motorway speeds is very impressive indeed. Getting out of a truckís spray, or moving ahead of a gaggle of traffic into clear air, is a real strength of this engine. Itís high geared too, giving the Tourer the satisfying and effortless feel of a car thatís just getting into its stride on a long distance trip.
In fact, so far as motorway driving goes, itís hard to think of anywhere the big Mazda puts a foot wrong. Its large Bridgestone tyres were a little noisy over coarser surfaces, at times emitting a noticeable amount of roar for such a large, refined car, but this ebbed away almost entirely on smooth bitumen. Itís hardly a complaint, but the Mazda6 is also one of those cars thatís so unflustered at the motorway speed limit, it would be very easy to wander over it without the cruise control engaged.
Date arrived 6th September 2018
Fuel economy 58.6mpg (NDEC combined) 43.3mpg (on test)
I can now attest the Mazda6 fulfils its motorway brief superbly.
The only negative was some tyre noise from its sizeable Bridgestones.