I mentioned in an early update that the Mazda6 Tourer is almost refreshingly devoid of settings you can fiddle with. Hop in the car, press the engine start button and that’s it – the car is ready to be driven exactly how its engineers intended. This is in stark contrast to most new models, including the Skoda Kodiaq I ran before the Mazda, which offered Eco, Normal, Sport, Snow and Individual driving modes, which you control from its infotainment system.
While our Kodiaq did without adjustable suspension, switching between these had a noticeable effect on the weight of the steering and the response of the engine, altering its personality to suit your mood. Its Individual setting was my favourite, because it allowed each parameter to be changed to your taste. So, as an example, you could have the engine in Eco mode to save fuel, but the steering in Sport if you prefer more heft to the wheel.
I’ve never had an issue with the Mazda’s steering; it’s one of the best electric systems I’ve tried for weighting and consistency, even if it’s not buzzing with feel. But, having never coerced the Mazda’s fuel economy higher than the mid-40s, an Eco mode for the engine could perhaps be useful. Once you get used to its long-travel accelerator, the 2.2-litre SkyActiv-D engine always feels lusty and the Mazda6 feels like it wants to ‘go’ – for want of a better expression. A softer setting could help save fuel, restricting engine power unless you really boot the accelerator to get up to speed, or pass slow-moving traffic.
This could go hand-in-hand with a more user-friendly ‘Eco Trainer’ display for the infotainment system. The Mazda6 has a nice and clear gearshift indicator below its digital speedometer to suggest the best ratio to be driving in, but the economy graph on the dashboard-mounted display isn’t much help while driving. For a start, it’s a bit fiddly to access, requiring you to find it in the menu each time you drive, and when you do, its bar chart for fuel-efficiency is likely to be a bit baffling for the average driver. Something a bit more fun, colourful and pleasing to the eye could help encourage more eco-friendly driving, possibly even with tips and milestones flagged up – a bit like a fitness watch that sends encouraging messages like ‘Well done, most economical trip achieved’.
Speaking of which, I managed my most frugal journey yet this month, at 68.9mpg, according to the trip computer. The relaxed drive from Crewe to Manchester took in A-roads and cruising on the M6 at around 60mph in warm weather, so served to show what’s possible in ideal conditions. Sadly, our regular commute is more stop and start, with lots of bursts of acceleration, bringing the Mazda’s overall tally for this month down to 43.9mpg.
Date arrived 6th September 2018
Fuel economy 58.6mpg (NDEC combined) 43.9mpg (on test)
Drive really carefully and the Mazda6 can return over 60mpg.
But, an Eco driving mode could be helpful to eke out the miles.