Mazda 6 Tourer, motoring review: 50mpg and cutting-edge technology prove early plaudits well deserved

 

PRICE from £19,595 to £28,296 OTR (£26,695 as tested)
ENGINE CAPACITY 2.2l Diesel
POWER OUTPUT (BHP @ RPM) 150 @ 4500
TOP SPEED (mph) 130
FUEL ECONOMY (mpg) 64.2
CO2 EMISSIONS (g/km) 116

Having put 65,000 miles into my trusty 2004 Mazda 3 1.6d over the last four years I was rather looking forward to stepping up and into its much bigger brother, the Mazda 6 2.2d Tourer. The most obvious difference was of how much lower down you feel in this new third generation model, first revealed to great acclaim last year.

And then there’s the engine start/stop system - a key component of Mazda’s fuel-saving Skyactive technology for reducing emissions and improving fuel economy along with the regenerative braking technology they call i-ELOOP, or Intelligent Energy Loop to give it its full name. This is a capacitor-based regenerative braking system that converts kinetic energy into electricity as the car slows down, a similar system which is found on hybrids.

Instead of going to a battery pack that drives an electric motor the way a hybrid would, the Mazda’s electricity is stored and then used to power its electrical components, like the headlamps and stereo.

And once I was pulling up at traffic lights and pushing the 6-speed gearbox into neutral, the i-stop kicked in, cutting the engine off. Once I was ready to pull away, the engine effortlessly came back to life as soon as I had pushed into first gear. Cars clearly have come a long way in a decade.

Numerous gadgets were at my disposal: from the Bose surround sound system with 11 speakers to the £700 TomTom navigation on a 5.8 inch touchscreen which is well integrated into the dashboard. Also tucked away are two ups ports and a Bluetooth handsfree phone that can be operated by touchscreen buttons, steering wheel controls or a central wheel/button combo.

Also contained in my Tourer Sport Nav 6 pack was a reversing camera, heated front seats and full leather trim - all adding to the feeling of comfort and control. The extra power from the 2.2l came in very handy when driving along the rollercoaster A456 from Birmingham to Ludlow and back with its 10-14 per cent gradients overcome with ease. The handling felt assured as well with strong grip and little body roll. When I had three passengers there was not a single gripe in the back over legroom either thanks to the longer roofline.

The 6 gobbled up hundreds of miles on the motorway so assuredly quite frankly I wanted to carry on driving for a while by the time I reached my destination. Rarely did I have to drop down a gear for a power boost as the 150ps pulled strongly enough and you can do 0-60 in nine seconds.

Any gripes I had were minor: for example when you’re doing less than 1,500 rpms the car computer for some reason advises you to go up two gears, and it did feel a little unsettled at times as the 19” wheels went over what was not a particularly bumpy stretch of the M6. However, it is surprisingly quiet and with emissions of less than 120g/kg, the 6 drops into road tax Band C at just £30 a year. At the end of my week I’d managed just under 50mpg.

It all adds up to a car that feels it is at the cutting edge of technology and with the Japanese company’s reliability a standard feature for years, there seems little reason for me to look elsewhere to upgrade.

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