Mazda 6: Don't believe the hype (but this Mazda's all right)
Price: From £19,595 (£22,595 as tested)
Engine capacity: 2.2-litre diesel Power output (PS @ rpm): 150 @ 4,500
Top speed (mph): 131
0-60 mph (seconds): 9
Fuel economy (mpg): 67.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 109
Inoffensive isn't a word that car manufacturers like to hear about their wares. They retain the services of expensive creative agencies and social-marketing firms to come up with buzzwords, campaigns and slogans to convince us how much character and personality they have.
But these slogans are meaningless. Seat, for example, leads the way in this nonsense with the term "enjoyneering", while Peugeot has the almost equally nonsensical "motion & emotion" tagline for its range of small French cars. I'm sure I'm not alone in having no bloody clue what these mean. And let's not forget Vauxhall "don't blend in" for the ever-so-bland Mokka SUV or Suzuki's menacing take on "the never-ending test drive" for its city cars. It's all marketing claptrap but sometimes it gives away something telling.
The tagline of choice for the new Mazda 6 saloon does that. It is "defy convention" and presumably the convention is that if you need a family car or are picking a company car, you'll nearly always opt for something with a Ford, Vauxhall or VW badge on the front.
Mazda's marketing chaps obviously think you're wrong and should buy one of theirs. And don't get me wrong, the all-new Mazda 6 isn't a bad saloon but it's just as bland an inoffensive as its big-boy rivals. Yes, it's well-priced, loaded with more kit than you'd expect, economical and comfortable enough for plenty of motorway miles, but it does little for the heart. It's more like a generic version of a saloon car – the sort of thing you'd see in a computer game that hasn't paid for licensing rights – than a ground-breaking design.
I understand most reviewers seem to like its sleek lines and Mazda's new "Kodo – Soul of Motion" design language (there they go again). It's just that I find it a terribly hard car to get excited about. It's the same with most of its rivals and one reason saloon sales figures have been flat lining for years. Today's drivers want funky crossovers like the Skoda Yetti or Nissan Juke and aspirational brands like Mini and Audi, not run-of-the-mill saloons with dull design language.
It's a shame for the Mazda 6 though, as inside and on the road things are much better. The model I tested, the smaller diesel engine of the range, is a very pleasant place to spend time thanks to its quiet cabin, refined ride and smooth engine. It gets Mazda's latest SkyActiv technology too, so returns an mpg figure in the 60s with ease and emits just 109g/km. These are impressive figures that 20 years ago would have been unthinkable for a family saloon or company car. What's more impressive, though, is that Mazda hasn't got there with expensive hybrid technology but by refining and continuing to develop combustion engine efficiency in its SkyActiv technology.
This savvy approach is one of the reasons I still have a soft spot for Mazda (the other two are the excellent CX-5 crossover and the MX-5 sports car), it's just that its new saloon doesn't really defy convention. It's a likeable and efficient tool and just like a Mondeo, Passat or Insignia I'd be happy to take one as a company car. But I'm sure I'd get to the end of my 100,000 or so miles with it and walk away without looking back and feel absolutely nothing for it at all.
Life & Style blogs
McDonald’s launches clothing line using Big Mac prints
Facebook to test 747-sized drones that will beam broadband to the entire world
The distress of some Zayn Malik fans is real, and they need support, say experts
Chair-bound workers 'should move around every hour to reduce physical and mental health risks'
The truth about student sex workers: it's far from Belle Du Jour
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...