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Mazda 6 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
It’s a case of evolution over revolution for the updated Mazda6 range. Lucky, then, that’s all Mazda’s flagship model required.

The Mazda6 used to be just about everywhere. A classic go-to kind of car, it has been a constant presence in Mazda's stable of passenger cars. Mazda's well-timed shift to SUVs a decade ago could have seen the eventual decline and demise of the classic mid-size sedan, but here we are in 2018 and it's still going strong.

The new Mazda6 isn't a ground-up redesign, it isn't a revolution that brings with it electric powertrains or funky hybrid additions or some wacky weight-saving technology. Instead, this new 6 echoes the approach the Japanese company took with its big-selling CX-5; detail changes, and lots of them.

Mazda 6 2018: Sport
Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.6L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$26,983

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

With four trim levels and three engine options, there are fourteen different versions of the 6. Our range review features a full model comparison and price list so you know how much you'll pay and what you'll get. Prices are RRP and therefore a starting guide - your final drive-away price will be down to you and your dealer.

2018 Mazda 6 sedan and wagon. (Atenza variant shown) 2018 Mazda 6 sedan and wagon. (Atenza variant shown)

The range starts with the Sport in sedan and wagon forms, with just one engine choice, a 2.5-litre 140kW/252Nm naturally aspirated petrol. Mazda claims the refreshed 6 Sport has $3000 of added value for no price increase. The Sport is priced at $32,940 for the sedan and $33,790 for the wagon.

Standard features include 17-inch alloys, head-up display, LED headlights, power mirrors, a power window in each door, auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, six speakers, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear shifter, sat nav, push-button start, remote central locking, active cruise control, rear parking sensors, GPS sat nav, DAB radio, trip computer, a safety package including lane assist and a space-saver spare tyre. The wagon version adds roof rails, an intermittent rear wiper, cargo cover and cargo net as standard.

Next in the range is the Touring. Also in sedan and wagon form, you can also specify the twin-turbo diesel motor with 140kW and 450Nm. Prices start at $36,690 and stretch up to $40,990.

17-inch alloys come as standard, but 19-inch alloy wheels are added to the GT. (Atenza variant shown) 17-inch alloys come as standard, but 19-inch alloy wheels are added to the GT. (Atenza variant shown)

Added to the Sport edition specs are leather seats, power heated and folding mirrors, electric front seats, 11 Bose-branded speakers (including subwoofer) for the infotainment system, leather steering wheel and gear shifter, smart key (keyless go and keyless entry), front and rear parking sensors and LED daytime running lights.

Next up, The GT drops the naturally-aspirated petrol and replaces it with the 2.5-litre turbo with 170kW and 420Nm. The diesel stays and prices start at $43,990 and end at $46,390. 

Added to the GT are 19-inch alloys, black or white leather seats, heated front and rear seats and an adaptive front lighting system.

The top of the range Atenza features adaptive front LED headlights, white or walnut Nappa leather seats with suede inserts and wood trim. Available from $46,390 up to $50,090, the diesel versions are slightly more expensive than before.

Mazda's MZD Connect multimedia system is accessible through the dash-mounted touchscreen and a console-mounted rotary dial. (Atenza variant shown) Mazda's MZD Connect multimedia system is accessible through the dash-mounted touchscreen and a console-mounted rotary dial. (Atenza variant shown)

Compared to the 2017 model year 6, Mazda says the 2018 model features extra value of between $1000 for a slight rise (Atenza) or drop (GT). The Sport and Touring pick up $3000 worth of gear, with prices either unchanged (Sport) or dropped (Touring).

There are eight colours, with Titanium Flash (grey), Deep Crystal Blue, Blue Reflex, Snowflake White, Sonic Silver and Jet Black all free, as well as Mazda's stunningly pretty Soul Red and the understated Machine Grey, both for a small extra cost. Sadly for fans of more out-there colours like yellow, purple or green, they're all off the menu.

Mazda's MZD Connect multimedia system is accessible through the dash-mounted touchscreen and a console-mounted rotary dial. None of the range feature Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (yet, but stay tuned, the Yanks have it already), but you can plug in your iPhone or Android device via USB or hook them, or another MP3 type player, up with Bluetooth

The multimedia system is reasonably easy to use, the navigation system is a bit blocky but otherwise accurate, and the car's various gadgets are simple enough, so a trip through the owner's manual should be rare.

Various accessories such as a roof rack, towbar, cargo barrier and boot liner are available from a dealer. Your dealer will most likely offer you tinted windows and despite not appearing on the spec sheet, it seems floor mats are standard. As is right and proper.

Mazda expects the Touring grade to take just over a third of sales with the other three grades taking around 20 per cent each of sales. (Touring variant shown) Mazda expects the Touring grade to take just over a third of sales with the other three grades taking around 20 per cent each of sales. (Touring variant shown)

Missing from the options list are a seat belt extender, homelink, panoramic sunroof, a premium package over and above the standard inclusions, 18 inch rims, 16 inch alloys, red brake calipers, performance brakes, park assist, radio-CD player combination, CD changer, xenon, projector, halogen or HID headlights, heated steering wheel, nudge bar, wifi hotspot or elegance pack.

The space-saver spare is no match for a full size tyre, but it sure beats a tyre repair kit 

If you like your model statistics, then read on; Mazda expects the Touring grade to take just over a third of sales with the other three grades taking around 20 per cent each of sales. Two-thirds of all 6s will probably be sedans, and just five percent (fewer than 200 units!) will be diesel.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Mazda's Kodo exterior design is hugely successful, so a top-and-tail is enough to bring the car up to date without ruining a look that has made it famously pretty.

The new bumper features a different front spoiler and the fog lights have moved into the LED headlight assembly. (Atenza variant shown) The new bumper features a different front spoiler and the fog lights have moved into the LED headlight assembly. (Atenza variant shown)

All the front panels forward of the doors are new, with a new bumper, headlights and a 3D grille. New 19-inch alloys on the GT and Atenza also help. The new bumper features a different front spoiler, the fog lights have moved into the LED headlight assembly and the indicators are now eyebrow-style LEDs along the top edge of the lights. The chrome (okay, plastic) grille outline is slimmer and wider, making the car look wider, but also sportier. Much of what you see came from Mazda's Vision Concept car from the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

The rear has come in for similar treatment, with a new bootlid, bumper and bolder twin-exhaust treatment - the pipes have a bigger diameter and a more "sculpted" look.

Mazda tends to skip adding side skirts, a rear diffuser or rear wing, leaving the body kit work to the aftermarket brigade. The wagon does have a small rear spoiler over the rear window, though.

2018 Mazda 6 wagon. (Atenza variant shown) 2018 Mazda 6 wagon. (Atenza variant shown)

Interior photos photos show a new and lighter cabin, and you might be surprised to find that all that remains unchanged from the previous model are the steering wheel, some switches and the top of the gear selector. There wasn't a great deal wrong with the old one, but this new one seems even more coherent. The centre console is less cluttered, housing just the air-conditioning controls. Seat belt or airbag lights, for instance, are now in an overhead console which also features a sunglass holder.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The interior dimensions of the 6 are unchanged, but it has always been a roomy sort of place. Rear legroom is expansive but if you're 185cm, your head might brush the (new) headlining. 

Boot space for the sedan starts at 474 litres (VDA) and the wagon offers 506 litres. For more luggage capacity or cargo of a larger size, the space can expand to 1648 litres, which isn't bad given the wagon's smaller dimensions. A tonneau cover is standard in the wagon.

The centre console is less cluttered, housing just the air-conditioning controls. (Atenza variant shown) The centre console is less cluttered, housing just the air-conditioning controls. (Atenza variant shown)

Storage is handy rather than extraordinary. Front seat passengers score a pair of cupholders with a neat cover for when they're not in use. The centre console is on the smaller side, but a decent phone cubby under the climate controls makes up for that. The fold-down rear centre armrest features a pair of cupholders, a slot to hold a phone or small tablet upright and a small lidded tray with a pair of USB ports.

Towing capacity for the 2.5-litre is 550kg unbraked/1550kg braked, and the turbo petrol and turbo diesel manage 750kg braked/1600 kg braked.

The turning radius differs between the sedan and wagon. The longer sedan (yes, really) has a turning circle of 11.2 metres, with the wagon completing the same trip in 11 metres. With ground clearance of 125mm, the 6 is not an off-road proposition.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The 6 now has three engine options; two petrol and one turbodiesel. Both petrols are the 2.5-litre SkyActiv. The naturally-aspirated petrol is found in the Sport and Touring and generates 140kW and 252Nm (up from 138kW and 252Nm). From the same engine size but with a turbo fitted, GT and Atenza buyers score 170kW and 420Nm of torque.

The two petrols' specs include Mazda's i-eloop regenerative braking technology to help charge the battery while saving fuel. All engines feature stop-start to cut fuel consumption around town. The non-turbo also features cylinder deactivation. Mazda says that at a steady 80km/h, cutting two cylinders (one and four) reduces fuel consumption by five percent.

Both of these engines drink 91RON, so no need to worry about paying for premium unleaded. (Atenza variant shown) Both of these engines drink 91RON, so no need to worry about paying for premium unleaded. (Atenza variant shown)

Other improvements to the 2.5-litre include revision of various components and a new continuous displacement oil pump.

Both of these engines drink 91RON, so no need to worry about paying for premium unleaded. Given the huge price difference between 91 and 95, that's an easy saving of around $1.60 for every 100km travelled, based on the quoted combined fuel mileage figure of the turbo.

If you were to put the thumbscrews on a Mazda engine expert, you might extract a dirty secret - run it on 98RON and you'll see somewhere in the region of 184kW from the turbo. But you didn't read that here.

The 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel's ratings come in at 140kW and 450Nm. Both power and torque are up (from 129kW and 420Nm respectively), courtesy of the diesel's variable geometry turbos and updated injector sequence.

With the same engine size as the Sport and Touring but with a turbo fitted, GT and Atenza buyers score 170kW and 420Nm of torque. (Atenza variant shown) With the same engine size as the Sport and Touring but with a turbo fitted, GT and Atenza buyers score 170kW and 420Nm of torque. (Atenza variant shown)

All 6s are front-wheel drive through Mazda's six-speed automatic transmission. There is no AWD, 4x4 or rear-wheel-drive version. A manual transmission option has long since disappeared, so the manual vs automatic argument is settled for you. No manual gearbox means no clutch to worry about, so manual transmission issues are a moot point. Also unavailable is an LPG version.

Oil type and capacity are dependent on the engine type. If you're interested in whether the engines feature a timing belt or chain, it's the latter.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Mazda claims that the 2.5-litre petrol will drink at the rate of 7.0L/100km and the turbo petrol at 7.6L/100km, both sipping 91RON fuel and on the combined cycle. Diesel fuel economy is quoted at 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle.

Fuel tank capacity is 62 litres across all three engine options.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The 6 has never been a bad car to drive - far from it - but earlier models and the early iterations of this current 6 (before the facelift, obviously) suffered from reasonably high road-noise levels. This new 6 finally puts all that to bed.

Mazda has focussed a lot of attention on what they call conversational clarity. Luckily they don't mean what is actually being said - my blathering would instantly ruin their KPIs - but the ability to hold and hear a conversation. There must have been hundreds of individual changes just to address noise.

The extra horsepower calms the driving experience, particularly when out on the freeway. (Atenza variant shown) The extra horsepower calms the driving experience, particularly when out on the freeway. (Atenza variant shown)

The front and rear suspension components have been revised, too, just one example is the increase in the size of the dampers, from 32mm to 35mm in diameter.

A huge number of components have been changed, right down to the undercarpet floor lining, to reduce the racket from the outside getting in. Now only a poor, coarse surface lets in tyre noise. Wind noise is down due to a variety of measures, and at speed the conversational clarity goal is well and truly achieved. The sound system doesn't struggle to cover what's left.

The updated petrol and diesel appear quieter and the 2.5-litre turbo (which we already know from the CX-9) is indeed very refined. You can barely hear a peep.

Performance figures for the two updated engines are unlikely to be substantially different, if at all. The new turbo petrol, while plenty powerful and seriously torquey, is no fireball. What it does is make those who aren't content with the standard 2.5-litre engine much happier with the way the car drives. It's far more relaxed; you don't need to work the engine at all hard and the in-gear performance is probably better than the diesel when you consider the weight difference. The extra horsepower calms the driving experience, particularly when out on the freeway.

2018 Mazda 6. (Atenza variant shown) 2018 Mazda 6. (Atenza variant shown)

The electric power steering won't set keen drivers on fire, but it's well-weighted and accurate.

Competent, secure and relaxed - those are the best three words to define the 6 experience, and even more so with the turbo petrol engine.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

Mazda has certainly carved itself a niche when it comes to offering advanced safety features up and down all the cars in each model range, and the 6 is no exception. From the entry-level Sport up, the 6 has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction control systems (aka DSC), high beam control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, radar cruise control, forward and reverse AEB, reverse cross-traffic alert, reverse camera and traffic sign recognition.

For all your child seating needs, you have three top-tether restraints and two ISOFIX points.

The Mazda6 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in November 2013. It seems unlikely a retest would see any issues scoring another five-star result. There's just one curious omission; a tyre-pressure monitoring system.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Mazda is confidently persisting with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and with roadside assist for an extra charge. A dealer will no doubt sell you an extended warranty if you're keen.

Service intervals are the same for each engine type, arriving at 12 months or 20,000km. Mazda offers capped-price servicing for the ongoing maintenance of the vehicle and service costs are listed on the Mazda website, along with any extras.

Diesel engine problems appear to be a thing of the past, with few recent complaints of merit in the usual internet forums. Common problems tend to set these sort of places on fire with reports of faults and defects, but over the last few years, the 6's reliability ratings and general durability seem strong.

Where is the Mazda6 built? All Australian cars arrive from Japan.

Verdict

The new 6 does exactly what's required, and that is to deliver a beautiful and refined car at a good price. The Mazda flagship is loaded with enough gear to give the Camry a run for its money, and it's hard to see why the 6 wouldn't be on your list.

Choosing a sweet spot of the range is tricky. The 2.5-litre Touring is well balanced when you consider value for money, but you can't help looking one step up to the turbo GT. That new engine really completes the transformation. So either hold out until Mazda relents and offers a turbo Touring, or live with the non-turbo 2.5.

I have always had a soft spot for the 6, but it required turning a blind eye to a range of deficiencies. Now they're pretty much gone, and I don't have to say, "But..." when asked about it. There must be thousands of changes in this new car and every single one of them has been an improvement.

What do you think? Can the 6 tempt you back out of an SUV or out of your current mid-size sedan?

Pricing Guides

$38,950
Based on 240 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$26,983
Highest Price
$54,667

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Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Atenza 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $32,495 – 52,990 2018 MAZDA 6 2018 Atenza Pricing and Specs
MAZDA6 ATENZA (5YR) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $38,888 – 54,667 2018 MAZDA 6 2018 MAZDA6 ATENZA (5YR) Pricing and Specs
GT 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $32,999 – 43,777 2018 MAZDA 6 2018 GT Pricing and Specs
MAZDA6 GT (5YR) 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $35,490 – 48,961 2018 MAZDA 6 2018 MAZDA6 GT (5YR) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving7
Safety9
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$25,990

Lowest price, based on 43 car listings in the last 6 months

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