Mazda 6 Saloon Review
The Mazda 6 is a smart saloon car that comes packed with standard equipment and safety kit, but there are roomier alternatives and engine choice is a little limited.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Plush interior
- Excellent safety kit as standard
- Good fun to drive
What's not so good
- Alternatives have bigger boots
- High-powered petrol auto only
- Hybrid car buyers look elsewhere
Mazda 6 Saloon: what would you like to read next?
The Mazda 6 is a stylish four-door saloon that combines a plush, well equipped interior with a sporty drive. It’s a bit of a left-field alternative to the likes of Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat but certainly deserves to be on your short list.
The Mazda 6 has been around since the early 2000s but this model was first introduced in 2012. Since then it has been given a couple of mild upgrades but a bigger range of updates came in 2018, which included a redesigned grille, an improved interior and changes to the engine range and suspension. A new 2.5-litre petrol engine, matched to a six-speed automatic gearbox, was also added to the Mazda 6 range.
A suite of updates to the exterior design in 2018 gave the Mazda 6 a much-needed refresh. The mesh grille looks sporty and is connected to the redesigned headlights by a strip of smart-looking chrome trim.
The rear lights have been redesigned too, and there are new designs for the alloy wheels – SE-L Nav+ and SE-L Lux Nav+ get 17-inch wheels while the top two trims get 19-inch alloys.
Slip into the driver’s seat and you’re faced with a dashboard covered in lovely soft-touch plastics, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an 8.0-inch touchscreen that allows you to change and set up the car’s infotainment system. You can also switch through the various menus with a rotary controller between the driver and passenger seats.
Speaking of seats, the driver’s seat should be a comfortable place to spend time in. Every Mazda 6 comes with lumbar support – which helps reduce stress on your back during long journeys – and the steering wheel moves for height and reach. Step up to SE-L Lux Nav+ cars and above and the driver’s seat adjusts electronically and has a memory function too.
Passengers in the back don’t get such a great deal. Knee room is OK, but if you’re over six foot, headroom is a little tight and there isn’t a great deal of space for three adults to sit side-by-side. Generally, a Skoda Superb is roomier.
It’s a similar story for Mazda 6 boot space. The saloon has a 480-litre boot, but a VW Passat has 100 litres more. The narrow boot opening hinders practicality further but at least there’s a button in the boot to fold down the rear seats (60:40).
There are just four trim levels to choose from – each with an impressive list of standard features. As such there are few extra options to pay for, and only one option pack so deciding which suits you best is easy. SE-L Lux Nav has probably the best balance between price and kit.
It’s lovely inside the Mazda 6 - that interior could give the BMW 3 Series a run for its money, never mind a Mondeo
The Mazda 6 is a fun car to drive. It manages to be comfortable and quiet yet still feels agile, sporty almost. There are three petrol engines and two diesels to choose from – the 2.0-litre 165bhp petrol is the best to go for if you don’t drive too many miles. The lower powered of the 2.2-litre diesels is the best bet if you are a high miler. All engines can come with either a manual or automatic gearbox, except the top-of-the-range 2.5-litre petrol, which is auto only.
The Mazda 6 scored five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests when it was last tested in 2013. The tests have since got tougher since but the Mazda 6 still has an impressive list of safety kit and driver aids. Every car gets Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist. Every Mazda 6 also gets a heads-up display so you don’t need to look away from the road ahead for sat-nav instructions or speed limits.
A 2018 update has really brought the Mazda 6 interior bang up to date. Every surface feels lovely and there’s neat tech too
Four (not-too-tall) people can travel in comfort, but the boot is smaller than alternatives, and its saloon body style makes it less versatile than a hatchback
Back seat passengers in top-spec cars will love you for the heated rear seats
Most passengers will find the Mazda 6 roomy enough. The front seats come with plenty of adjustment (electrical in all but the entry-level car) and the steering wheel adjusts for height and reach so you can find a comfortable driving position easily. You also get adjustable lumbar support as standard to help prevent backache on long drives.
The rear seats are also comfortable – provided you aren’t too tall. There’s enough legroom and there’s space for passengers to slide their feet under the front seats but the sloping rear roofline limits headroom a bit.
Three adults will find the Mazda 6s back seats a rather tight squeeze – especially for whoever sits in the middle – but there’s space for everyone’s feet and there isn’t a particularly tall lump in the rear floor.
The Mazda 6 has dual-zone climate control but those in the back make do with vents rather than being able to control the temperature themselves. At least they get heated seats in top-spec models.
It’s pretty easy to fit a large rear-facing child seat. The Mazda 6’s rear doors open wide and the Isofix anchor points are clearly marked but you have to remove a set of covers first. You’ll have to stoop down quite low to strap in a child – especially if you’re very tall.
You get a decent number of cubby spaces in the Mazda 6’s cabin to store an assortment of family bits and bobs. The front door bins are large enough to store a small bottle and a flask each and you get a pair of cupholders in the centre console under a folding cover.
The glovebox isn’t particularly big but you get a storage tray on the driver’s side for your keys and space beside the armrest for your phone – next to which you’ll find some USB ports and a 12V socket.
Passengers in the back get two iPad-sized seatback pockets and a folding armrest with a pair of cupholders and a hidden storage trays with some built-in USB ports.
Mazda 6’s 480-litre boot is quite a bit smaller than the load bays you get in the Peugeot 508 and the Vauxhall Insignia. Unlike these cars, it doesn’t come with a hatchback-style opening so it isn’t quite as easy to load large luggage.
Still, there’s enough space for one large and one small suitcase with room left over for two soft bags and a set of golf clubs. You can also carry a baby buggy but a large cardboard box won’t fit through the Mazda’s narrow boot opening.
At least there are some levers in the boot to flip the rear seats down in a two-way (60:40) split. With all the back seats folded away the Mazda’s boot is roomier than the Vauxhall’s and the Peugeot’s and there’s enough space to carry a bike with both wheels attached. It’s not particularly easy to lift in a bike though, and you don’t get any handy shopping hooks or luggage nets to stop things rolling around.
The Mazda 6 is great fun to drive but the high-powered petrol car only comes with an automatic gearbox which takes some of the fun out of nipping down twisty backroads
Drive down an empty twisting road and you’ll think the Mazda 6 is a sportscar just itching to burst out of its saloon body style
The Mazda 6 comes with a range of economical and high-tech petrol and diesel engines, with either a manual or automatic six-speed gearbox.
The diesels are 2.2-litre engines with either 150 or 183bhp. The lower powered version has an official fuel economy of 64mpg and CO2 emissions of 117g/km. The higher powered version is noticeably quicker, averages 60mpg, but sits in a higher tax bracket. If you do a lot of miles opt for the diesel that suits you best – higher power or lower running costs.
If you do fewer miles, then one of the 2.0-litre petrols should suit. The higher powered version only comes in Sport Nav+ trim, whereas the lower powered petrol comes with the bottom two trims. So the decision comes down to how much kit you want. Official economy figures are 45.6 and 44.1mpg – and expect to get close to 40mpg in the real world.
The 194bhp 2.5 litre petrol is only available in top-spec GT Sport Nav+. It has clever technology that switches off two of the engine’s four cylinders when the car is cruising, so its official fuel economy of 42.2mpg is impressive considering its extra power.
It is a pity though that this engine is only available with the automatic gearbox, which seems to almost hold the engine back. You can shift the car into Sport setting and change ‘gear’ with the paddleshifts mounted on the steering wheel to liven things up.
The Mazda 6 was fun to drive even before a host of improvements to the car’s suspension came in 2018, but thanks to those changes the car is one that feels both comfortable and sporty to drive.
Comfort is ensured thanks in part to a quiet cabin. You don’t hear much noise from the engine or tyres – indeed the only surprising noise on the motorway is from the wind over the door mirrors. And the updated suspension also makes a pretty good job of flattening out bumps and potholes in the road.
And the sportiness comes from the car’s agility in corners. You get great confidence when you turn the steering wheel and the car goes exactly where you expect it to. Passengers shouldn’t be squashed up against the windows as you go round corners either as the car doesn’t lean too much.
Parking is a cinch – parking sensors are standard and on the top-spec GT Sport Nav+ (and an option on Sport Nav+ cars) you get a 360-degree view monitor, that gives you a bird’s eye view of the car in the infotainment screen to make parking even more straightforward.