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Mazda 6 Sport sedan 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2016 Mazda6 Sport sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2016 Mazda6 Sport sedan with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

In a car market as shallow and yet wide as Australia's - there are probably some dealers in China who sell more than our entire country shifts in a year - it bears repeating that we have more brands available to us than almost any country on the planet.

Inevitably this means that some cars, some good cars, get lost in the mix. Australia's mid-size sedan market is shrinking as SUVs take the cash and run, and yet still holding on at the top is the solid, dependable and unexciting Toyota Camry.

Not far behind, however, is Mazda's 6. Sleek, stylish, eminently more exciting and better to drive, the 6 recently benefited from a mild update to freshen things up a bit.

Price and features

The Sport opens the three-model 6 range at $32,490 in 2.5-litre petrol automatic form.

For that you'll receive 17-inch alloys, a six-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, cruise control, front fog lamps, sat nav, auto headlights and wipers, leather steering wheel and gear selector, folding and heated door mirrors and power everything.

Mazda's excellent MZD Connect handles smartphone integration and combines a rotary dial with a touchscreen to run the show. It's also got DAB+ digital radio and some limited app integration for your phone. It's easily the most usable entertainment system in almost any Japanese car.

Practicality

The 6's sleek looks could easily translate into a compromised boot, but the 4.8m-long sedan acquits itself well with 474 litres (71 more than a CX-5, which is quite an argument against SUV ownership). It's a good shape, too, although the size is partly due to a space-saver spare.

The Mazda looks longer than its 4.8 metres suggests, with a low-slung stance that is helped by larger alloys on higher-spec cars.

Cupholders are liberally applied through the cabin, with two up front and two in the rear armrest to bring the total to four. There are also four bottle holders, one in each door, to swallow 500ml to 1.25-litre sizes.

Design

The 6 is a very pretty car, although the Snowflake White pearl paint of our test vehicle didn't do it any favours. The Mazda looks longer than its 4.8 metres suggests, with a low-slung stance that is helped by larger alloys on higher-spec cars.

Mazda's Kodo design language is a proven winner with Australian eyes, and for just $250 you could choose Soul Red metallic to accentuate those looks. Indeed, you should. It's the only option available on the Sport.

The dash design is Mazda's best.

Inside, the look and feel are highly impressive, with a clean, sophisticated design. You won't miss leather, either, as the cloth trim is nicely textured and looks good as well as being kind on bare legs for the summer months.

The dash design is Mazda's best - the 2 and 3 have dud instrument packs. The speedo and tacho are separate analogue dials and the third dial's digital information screen has finally been updated to look like it's from this century. The fake leather on the dash looks quite smart with its stitching and the alloy-look bits and pieces lift what could otherwise be a dark cabin.

Engine and transmission

Mazda is stubbornly staying away from turbos for most of its range (only the CX-9 has a turbo version of this engine) so the 6's 2.5-litre four cylinder produces 138kW and a modest 250Nm. Power reaches the road via a six-speed automatic.

The update has killed one of the bigger complaints I've had against 6s past - the racket from the front suspension.

What this engine does have is energy recovery and an ever-improving stop-start system to cut fuel use and emissions.

Fuel consumption

Mazda claims a combined cycle average of 6.6L/100km. In largely city and suburban running, we achieved a less than stellar 10.2L/100km. That's quite some distance from the claim.

Driving

The update has killed one of the bigger complaints I've had against 6s past - the racket from the front suspension. Past cars would go over a speed bump and produce a din that made it sound like there was a barrel of metal parts placed under the bonnet. Mazda has made efforts over time to reduce this noise and we're finally at a point where I can stop making jokes about it.

The 6 still isn't exactly the quietest cabin on the road - Holden's largely unloved Malibu, for instance, is much quieter - but the Mazda is mighty close to being on a par with the class-leading Camry.

Where it actually beats the Camry (and therefore almost everything in the segment) is in dynamic ability, roadholding and ride. The Camry is as middle of the road - and inoffensive - as cars come, while the 6 heads out for pastures more interesting.

It feels like a much more expensive car, with ride and handling approaching the best front-drive Europeans.

The 17-inch wheels are shod with 55 profile tyres, meaning a fairly plush ride and even with just 225mm worth of rubber on the road, the 6 is quite a bit of fun to hustle. You'll never be going particularly quickly because, despite a reasonably low kerb weight for its size (1463kg), the torque isn't there for big speeds. On the upside, it's a very relaxed machine; the slick-shifting six-speed keeping up with you no matter what you're doing.

The update also includes Mazda's new G-Vectoring technology, which has gone some way to improving the way the car drives. When you're giving it a bit of welly, the hedge-avoiding technology works in the background to stop you exiting the road. It's also very handy in an emergency, helping keep the 6's four wheels on the deck and pointing in the same direction.

The overall feeling, now that the suspension noise is gone, is that of refined quality. It feels like a much more expensive car, with ride and handling approaching the best front-drive Europeans.

Safety

The 6's five star ANCAP rating comes courtesy of six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, front and rear collision mitigation, brake force distribution, driver attention detection and rear cross traffic alert. It's an impressive list for an entry-level model.

Ownership

All Mazda passenger cars enjoy a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty but roadside assist is extra, for between $68.10 and $83.50 per year.

Mazda also offers fixed-price servicing, running up to 16 services/160,000km. Intervals on the 6 are set at every 10,000km or 12 months. Service pricing alternates between $302 and $330 for all 16 services while additional scheduled maintenance items are also declared on the website. Examples are brake-fluid replacements every two years ($68), and oil change for just $16. Chances are you will rarely pay for just the basic service, so bank on about $700 or $800 per year if you cover 20,000km.

Verdict

The 6's update might have been slight - you can't tell it's happened at all from the outside - but it has cleverly concentrated on the feel of the car. Considering there was nothing wrong with the way it looked, it has been effort well spent, with a much better feeling car underneath you, and improved refinement into the bargain.

Apart from anything else, it's well-equipped for the money with an excellent standard safety package. This segment might be fading, but Mazda certainly hasn't given up on it.

Would you pick a Mazda 6 over a Camry? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Mazda 6 Sport sedan pricing and spec info.

Pricing Guides

$25,990
Based on 61 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$18,977
Highest Price
$34,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Atenza 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $24,990 – 34,888 2016 Mazda 6 2016 Atenza Pricing and Specs
GT 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $22,934 – 31,850 2016 Mazda 6 2016 GT Pricing and Specs
GT Safety 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $26,510 – 32,780 2016 Mazda 6 2016 GT Safety Pricing and Specs
Sport 2.5L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,977 – 26,990 2016 Mazda 6 2016 Sport Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$22,995

Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months

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