Monday, February 4, 2013

Mazda 6 Tourer

The Mazda 6 Estate has always been one of the best family wagons, and this latest version promises to be the most practical yet, despite its sleek looks and a change of name to the Mazda 6 Tourer.

True, the rival Ford Mondeo and VW Passat estates offer slightly more luggage space, but the Mazda is still huge and its boot features several thoughtful touches designed to make life easier.

As a bonus, the 6 is the latest Mazda to get the company’s Skyactiv technology, which improves fuel consumption and cuts CO2 emissions through a combination of lightweight construction and efficient engines and transmissions.

The boot is well shaped, with no awkward lip for you to lift luggage over. What’s more, the 6 Tourer retains its predecessor’s clever Karakuri rear seats, which not only fold forward at the tug of a boot-mounted lever, but also cantilever down to create a lower load floor.

Cabin space is just as impressive; there’s enough legroom to keep six-footers happy, plus those in the back don’t have to slouch like they do in the saloon model thanks to the Tourer’s flatter roofline.
Meanwhile, the driver gets a supportive seat with lots of adjustment, and a smart, well-ordered dashboard.
Only the new touch-screen infotainment system lets the side down a bit – it looks like an aftermarket fitment.
Mazda offers 143bhp and 162bhp petrol engines and a 173bhp diesel, but the 148bhp diesel is the pick of the range; this pulls strongly from just above tickover and is happy to rev, yet it emits just 116g/km of CO2.
You do hear the engine when you put your foot down, and wind- and road noise aren’t as well supressed as they are in a Ford Mondeo, but the 6 is still a pretty quiet cruiser.

Instead, it’s comfort that most disappoints. Even on the smallest, 17-inch wheels there’s a decidedly firm edge to the ride around town, and things don’t improve a lot at speed, where you feel too much patter.

The firm suspension does at least keep the 6 composed on twisty roads, although the steering is a little vague around the straight-ahead.

The new Mazda 6 Tourer is a practical estate that combines class-leading fuel economy and emissions with strong performance.

It’s also expected to hold its value better than most rivals, meaning it makes sense as a private buy, not just as a company car.

Most estates are used as family cars, though, so the 6’ overly firm ride stops us recommending it over the Mondeo.