Volkswagen Passat 2018 review: 132TSI Comfortline
Thinking of buying an SUV? Stop, because the Volkswagen Passat 132TSI Comfortline wagon probably has more space, may be easier to drive, and your kids won't keep falling out.
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"Here comes my Mum. Oh, sorry, Richard." Hilarious. I was waiting in a line of cars to pay my entrance fee to a hot-rod festival and a mate working on the gate was having a go at the Mazda6 wagon I was driving.
He was wrong on a few levels. First, his Mum drives an SUV like all the other Mums, and second, his insinuation that the mighty Mazda6 wagon in the Atenza grade was perhaps a bit dull was entirely inaccurate.
Also, he didn't realise I was sneaking into the campground with a mattress in the back and was going to sleep in it that night after the show. Who's laughing now, eh?
Apart from doubling as a caravan, the Mazda6 wagon spent the week as our family car, with preschool drop offs, trips to the grandparents and daily commutes. So, could this be the ultimate Mum or Dad car? Why would you SUV when you can wagon instead?
|Mazda 6 2020: Atenza|
|Engine Type||2.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The Atenza is the king of the Mazda6 range and of course commands the biggest list price of $51,190. The only options our Atenza had fitted were floor mats ($203.97) and Machine Grey premium paint for $495, for a total of $51,888 before on-road costs.
It's a lot of money for a Mazda but as far as standard features go you are getting e-v-e-r-y-thing.
Inside, there's an eight-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an 11-speaker Bose stereo, 360-degree camera, Nappa leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel, plus a colour head-up display.
Outside you get adaptive LED headlights, LED running lights, proximity key, sunroof and 19-inch alloy wheels.
In this era, where the SUV is king, we don't see a huge number of station wagons on the road, but there are rivals to the Mazda6 Atenza wagon. Also consider the Holden Commodore RS-V Sportwagon, which lists for $49,190; the Volkswagen Passat 132 TSI Comfortline wagon for $45,790 or the all-wheel-drive version; the Alltrack 140 TDI for $51,290; and there's also the Skoda Superb 162TSI wagon for $45,690.
Despite being heckled for driving a Mazda6 wagon to an old-school rod festival, more than a few punters inside wanted to take a look at it. One mate who's an auto spray painter even called it a "Mazdaratti" for its high-end looks and was impressed with the Machine Grey paint it wore.
I'm a fan of the hue, too and also the car's styling, with that glittering grille, the broad bonnet and the low-slung stance. The interior is also outstanding in its design and the materials used. From the Nappa leather seats to the layered dash with its suede-like trim, it's a premium-feeling cabin.
If there are any criticisms it's that the cabin is feeling dated compared to the cockpit of the new-generation Mazda3, with its beautiful and modern insides boasting an integrated display and a more minimal design to buttons and switchgear.
How big is the Mazda6 wagon? The Mazda6's dimensions show it to be 4865mm long, 1840mm wide and 1450mm tall. That's big, and only about 210mm shorter in length than a CX-9. How does its size affect the driving? You'll have to read on to find out.
Any car you can put a double-bed camp mattress into and sleep in has to be practical, right? As you can see from my images, that's just what I did when I took the Mazda6 Atenza wagon to a hot-rod festival that went over a weekend. The temperature dropped to -2C but I was cozy in my Mazda6 camper.
I don't suggest anyone else should do the same, but even for me, at 191cm tall, there was enough room to stretch out with the tailgate shut – those second-row seats fold flat and open up to give you a cargo capacity of 1648L (VDA).
Put those seats back into the upright position and the boot space is still good at 506 litres. You'll find hooks for hanging bags and a 12V outlet in the boot, too.
Cabin storage is also good, with two cup holders in the second row and another two up front. There's a big centre-console bin with two USB ports and a 12V outlet and pretty decent-sized door pockets, too.
People space is good, but not fantastic. I can sit behind my driving position but only have enough room between my knees and the seat back to squeeze in one of my fingers.
Headroom back there is getting tight, too, and that's because of that swoopy roof line. The low roof and small door openings also make it hard to lift babies in and out. Parents will have to bend over further than in an SUV. This is one of the advantages of an SUV's ride height. That said, for kids who can climb in on their own, the wagon's height is ideal.
While we're talking ride height, SUVs tend to have high boot-load lips that you're forced to heave your bags and shopping over - not so with the Mazda6 wagon.
The Mazda6 Atenza has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 170kW and 420Nm. Only the GT and the Atenza have this engine, while the bottom two grades get a 2.5-litre without the turbo. What's the difference? A lot. The turbo engine makes 30kW and 169Nm more in power and torque. Two words to describe it: velvety smooth and powerful. OK that was three words, possibly four.
Shifting gears is a six-speed automatic transmission. Sure, other car makers are moving to more and more gears, but there's no fishing around for the right cog in this Mazda transmission, as you occasionally find in some eight- or 10-speed autos.
We've written news stories about how Mazda refuses to bring hybrids or electric vehicles to Australia. Mazda's thinking is that its petrol engines are already super-efficient, and it says the 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine with the six-speed automatic in the Atenza wagon should use 7.0L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads.
I put more than 450km on the clock of the wagon but began fuel testing towards the end of our time with it to ensure a good combination of driving. My testing measured at the fuel pump found that after 144.3km our test car's mileage was 11.6L/100km. That was fully loaded up with a weekend away's worth of luggage for two adults and a five-year-old child on board.
You'll only need to feed it 91 RON, too.
The Mazda6 was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2018, scoring outstanding results for adult and child protection, and also achieving a great result for safety tech.
Standard advanced safety equipment includes AEB, which works forwards and backwards, rear cross traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control. There are also front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera.
For child seats there are three top-tether mounts and two ISOFIX points.
A space-saver spare wheel is under the boot floor.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Mazda6 Atenza wagon is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 10,000km or 12 months and you can expect to pay $324 for each of the first five services.
You now know from what I've written above that the turbo-petrol engine and six-speed auto are excellent, but what's the Mazda6 Atenza wagon like to pilot? The answer is: outstanding, for the segment and price. Steering is excellent with good feedback, the ride is comfortable and composed and because this isn't an SUV, handling is impressive, with a low centre of mass.
That engine provides plenty of oomph for great acceleration and I know I've mentioned it already, but the transmission is also superb at holding gears for sporty driving or shifting almost seamlessly in the traffic and when cruising leisurely.
Mazda6 wagon, with its impressive dynamics, great practicality and value. The Atenza grade adds another level of luxury but also look at the GT, which has the same engine and an almost identical features list. Oh, and you don't have to put a bed in the back like I did, but it's good to know you can.
|Atenza||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$49,890||2020 Mazda 6 2020 Atenza Pricing and Specs|
|GT||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$45,990||2020 Mazda 6 2020 GT Pricing and Specs|
|Sport||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$34,490||2020 Mazda 6 2020 Sport Pricing and Specs|
|Touring||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$38,690||2020 Mazda 6 2020 Touring Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|