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Mazda 6 Atenza vs Mercedes-Benz C200

Mazda 6 Atenza and Mercedes-Benz C200

There's a big price difference yet the Mazda and Mercedes are vying for No.2 spot behind Camry in the medium sedan segment.

value

Mazda 6 Atenza

from $47,210

The Mazda6 has been the perennial private buyers' favourite and it's easy to see why. It drives very well, uses little fuel and is a good looking addition to the family. The warranty is for three years/unlimited km and the capped- price service schedule averages out at $312.50 a year.

Mercedes-Benz C200

from 60,900

The base Benz is almost $14,000 dearer but the C-Class range but will probably outsell the Mazda6 in annual sales. Put that down to build quality and a perceived impression of more refined finishes. It sits smaller on the road than the Mazda6 but still manages a comparable boot and rear space. The Benz wins on both performance and fuel use too.

design

Mazda 6 Atenza

A new Mazda6 arrives early next year with a tighter, more coherent front end but there's not a lot wrong with the existing model. The 6 genuinely stands out in carparks, given the distinguishing curvature applied to every panel. The interior set benchmarks when the car was launched and is still the best of the mainstream models.

Mercedes-Benz C200

The C200 is a more dramatic, dynamic look. From the front spoiler with mesh panels designed as the final resting home for slow possums to the elongated, two-nostril grille, the C-Class is an aggressively styled car. Slide inside and the layout has a more open, engaging feel and the contact-point surfaces are plushly finished.

technology

Mazda 6 Atenza

Mazda has introduced much of the drive-assist software to the mid-sized mainstream segment. Much of it was originally developed by Benz. Standard gear includes radar cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam damping, forward obstruction warning and blind-spot monitoring.

Mercedes-Benz C200

The base Benz has similar software to the top-end Mazda but also picks up a five-mode Agility Select button to adjust the ride and performance, DAB radio and "premium" features such as ambient interior lighting with three colours and five intensities. Benz also has the high ground in terms of transmission-engine interaction.

safety

Mazda 6 Atenza

The Atenza is one of the safest cars on the road. A five-star ANCAP rating (overall score 35.44) is reinforced with high-tensile steels, smart software and a responsive chassis to make an impressively reassuring package.

Mercedes-Benz C200

It'd be a surprise if Benz didn't win this contest. The company is a pioneer for much of the steel and software used to support cars. In this case, nine airbags and an overall ANCAP score of 36.46 gives the C-Class an edge.

driving

Mazda 6 Atenza

If I had to pick a mid-sized mainstream sedan, the Mazda6 would be it. The turn-in to bends is sharp, the feedback from the steering wheel is intelligent, if a little lightly weighted and the SkyActiv engine is partial to a decent rev. It can comfortably carry four adults and, against the rest of the regular field, is more relaxed and refined office.

Mercedes-Benz C200

Every man and his hashtag is commenting on the C-Class rolling away with awards. Drive it to find out why. The suspension is firmer but composes itself faster than the Mazda, the steering is sharper again and the rear-drive layout, while costing legroom in the back seat, makes the C-Class a scandalously fun car to drive dynamically.

Verdict

Mazda 6 Atenza

Mercedes-Benz C200

As good as the Mazda6 is, the Benz is better to the point where if I could afford the $14,000 price difference, I'd certainly be able to justify it — to myself if not to the better half.