Mazda6 looks great but engine choice lets it down
Like a pretty face or a stunning destination, certain cars stick in your mind.
I remember attending the international launch of the Mercedes Benz CLA in France a couple of years ago and thinking to myself: this is a game- changer for the German company.
Another car that sticks in my mind is the Mazda6. I remember both myself and my colleague, Paul, attending the Irish launch of this particular model in beautiful Wicklow surroundings and both of us being in awe at its sheer looks alone.
Its stunning curves and gorgeous body would catch anyone’s eye cruising the roads, or even parked in a supermarket car park. It’s so good-looking even my mother noticed — and that’s saying something! I will even stick my neck on the line and say it is better looking than two of its closest rivals — the Volkswagen Passat and the Ford Mondeo.
And now, for 2015, Mazda has updated the model with a few tweaks to make it even more appealing.
The most noticeable differences come at the front end, where designers have subtly restyled the nose, grille and signature chrome wing design. Added to that, the 6 now gets new LED headlamps and daytime running lights.
Inside, too, there are many subtle changes and, even though it was already a very nice place to be, it feels even more luxurious with the addition of a few up-to-date toys.
There is more kit as standard, and the seven-inch infotainment system now features DAB radio, and my model had the head-up display and updated dials.
However, what still lets the Mazda down against its rivals is the engine range available. There is a 2.0-litre petrol, of which only a handful will be sold. On the diesel front, there are two 2.2-litre diesels — one with 150bhp and one with 175bhp.
What’s not on the list is a 1.6-litre diesel version which this Mazda6 is crying out for. There are rumours that the company is working hard on one, but I feel it should have been ready in time for the updated 6.
Despite all the company’s fuel claims and excellent CO2 emissions, I always found the Mazda6 slightly harder on juice than other models in this segment.
The weirdly-named SkyActiv technology doesn’t cut the mustard like its rivals do, and the Passat, and even the new Mondeo, are still well ahead in this department.
In saying all that, the Mazda6 is still a very capable car on the road and, although it has made some subtle changes to the driving set-up, I really don’t think there was any need.
It has always been a great car to drive on the road, with precise handling and steering. The automatic gearbox, which was fitted to my test car, is still the one for me ahead of the six-speed manual gearbox.
If Mazda could just offer a greater choice of engines it would have one of the best family saloons on the market – it’s certainly the best looking one.
Road envy: The Mazda6 has been tweaked by designers but it retains its classic look