No epic road trips or digging the Mazda out of snow drifts this month, but it has carried on plugging away at my affections all the same. Its boot is never out of use, with one of the rear seats almost permanently folded down to accommodate ski bags for trips to the local snow dome. Then there are hiking boots for evening walks, umbrellas and even a small car cleaning kit for spruce ups out in the field.
As a motoring journo – and I’m sure this is also the case for enthusiasts – it’s often easy to get lost in the figures, measurements and statistics for every car. For instance, at 506 litres, the 6 Tourer’s boot is quite far off the class best, with the Skoda Superb Estate boasting 660 litres. Folding the seats down extends the Mazda’s cargo capacity to 1,648 and the Skoda to 1,950 litres. Yet, in everyday life, I can’t really imagine the need for much more space, and easily plonked two mountain bikes in the back over the Bank Holiday weekend. However, I reckon one reason for the size disadvantage must be the Mazda’s lower roof, and when transporting an outdoor table recently, it was such a tight squeeze that popping out the boot floor just allowed its legs to clear the top lip.
Still, a bit like comparing the svelte SEAT Leon ST to the boxy Skoda Octavia Estate in the class below, what you lose in outright practicality, is paid back in sleek styling. And in a nation head over heels for metallic grey SUVs, I sometimes can’t help but feel grateful that I’m in a low-slung estate, finished in deep red paint, like one of those films where everything is black and white apart from one detail. I just wish I was a clean freak that could do the multi-coat Soul Red Crystal finish justice, because I’ve never run a car that looks so much better after a wash. Its incredible reflectivity is sadly lost when a layer of dust covers it, lessening the impressive effect. In fact, I should probably invest some time in applying a ceramic coating to help it look great for longer.
So the exterior still gets a big thumbs up, and the interior is holding up well too. I’ve always been impressed by the classy materials covering the dashboard, and they appear to be as resilient as they are attractive. The dark tinted rear windows came into their own during the Easter heatwave, saving a boot full of chocolate from liquifying, and I haven’t heard a single squeak, hum or rattle from its interior trim over the time that I’ve run it. It’s just a shame the infotainment system is showing its age, feeling at least a generation behind the latest Audi and BMW, or even Ford systems. For a start, there’s no smartphone app support, and I really miss features like being able to sit on my sofa and check fuel level, trip information and even if the car is locked, all available in the Kodiaq I ran last. The Mazda6 is such a compelling product, but infotainment is one area where the Japanese manufacturer needs to act fast to avoid getting left behind.
Date arrived 6th September 2018
Fuel economy 58.6mpg (NDEC combined) 43.9mpg (on test)
There’s plenty of room for skis, hiking boots and umbrellas.
Mazda’s infotainment works well, but lacks the latest features.