Where there’s a will there’s a way and Mazda’s engineers have weighed in with one of the most willing diesel engines this side of a German badge.
The “SkyActiv” mill in the Mazda6 uses sips like a society matron at a charity do yet manages to be the most entertaining-to-drive oilburner in this class. Package that with a slick six-speed auto and jam the lot into the best looking wagon in the mid-sized class and you have a winner.
The price spread is from $41,650 to $50,960. That buys the diesel engine matched to a six-speed automatic and the best looks in the class. The wagon actually has a smaller wheelbase than the sedan and is a better-driving car for it.
The trade-off is marginally less rear legroom and a small-ish cargo area that, at 451 litres, is less than Ford Mondeo’s capacity.
The Mazda6 sits on the same platform as the CX-5 SUV and that’s not a bad thing. The suspension tune is biased for comfort rather than outright sportiness, so it’s a better drive 95 per cent of the time.
And the diesel donk is a ripper, accelerating hard right across the rev range, but happy to settle down to a low-rpm lope on the freeway. All 6s come with a kinetic energy recovery system dubbed i-eloop that drives the ancillaries and, with stop/start software, helps the diesel achieve 5.4L/100km.
The new car is a dramatic improvement on the old in terms of looks. The wagon’s sophisticated style is bound to turn heads and rear vision is less obscured than is often the case with load-luggers. Inside there are soft-touch plastics on the dash and doors, easy to read instruments and quality switchgear.
The body shell has been improved, the bonnet and front bumper are less likely to injure pedestrians and In-house testing shows the mid-sized Mazda has top marks for whiplash protection. That should ensure the new 6 beats the previous model’s five-star safety rating.
The wagon rides firmer than the sedan. That helps it ride flatter and faster through the corners but comes at the expense of outright comfort around town, where it tends to hit speed humps slightly harder. Either car is still very composed and capable of being punted at a serious pace.
The gearbox is as good as the engine, with enough smarts to upshift early under light accelerator loads or hang on to a gear if the right foot is buried. Used as family transport, I’d go for the sedan - the minor trade-off in load space is more than compensated by the extra 30mm of rear legroom.
The wagon will turn tighter though, at 11m compared to the sedan’s 11.2 and it makes an appreciable difference when negotiating carparks.
The Mazda6 hits the sweet spot. It is a premium wannabe with the aesthetics and athleticism to back up that aspiration. Go for the top-spec model and the Euro-esque comparison firms with adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning software. The only thing missing is a manual gearbox and that is our fault for refusing to buy cars with clutches in this class.
Mazda6 Touring diesel wagon
Price: from $41,650
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: 54 per cent (3 years, Glass's Guide)
Service interval: 6 months/10,000km
Crash rating: Not yet tested
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, TC, ESC, EBD
Engine: 2.2L four-cylinder turbodiesel, 129kW/420Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, FWD
Dimensions: 4.8m (L), 1.84m (W), 1.48m (H)
Thirst:5.4L/100km, 141g/km CO2