Road Test: Mazda 6 Estate 2.0 Sport Nav

  • Sport spec not the cheapest, but loaded with kit
  • Petrol engine uses SkyActiv tech for efficiency
  • Most stylish load-lugger in sector

Choosing a Mazda 6 always marked you out as a bit of free-thinker; the firm’s family-car was never considered a mainstream option, and to be fair things haven’t changed with the latest model. However, that hasn’t stopped the new car selling like the proverbial hotcake.

One reason for this has to be the styling, the new ‘Shinari’ design language inspired by the flow of water over hard surfaces. It certainly works on the 6, each panel of sheet metal seemingly stretched sinuously over the hard points to form the sexiest car in the sector – even in estate form.

What really sets the latest 6 apart, though, is its value for money. The range starts with the SE model, and even this is generously equipped with cruise control, air-conditioning, daytime running lamps, Bluetooth, 5.8-inch colour touchscreen, USB connection, stop/start and eight airbags as standard – though it is only available with the 2.0-litre 143BHP petrol or 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel engines.

Move up to the SE-L cars and engine choices remain the same but add automatic gearbox options. The standard equipment list grows too and includes dual zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, tinted windows, an extra pair of speakers and a sliding centre armrest.

So while the Sport models - starting at £24,865 for the estate driven here - are not the cheapest of the trio, they do come with enough kit to more than justify the extra purchase price. Certainly the cost of adding sat-nav, full leather, 19-inch alloy wheels, upgraded stereo system, reversing camera, Bi-Xenon lights and electric heated seats would far outweigh the jump up from the models below.

Mazda operates with a very limited options program, and as such the only extras that can be added to your Sport spec 6 are metallic or pearlescent paint, a light colour for the leather interior, sat-nav and a safety pack. All of them are reasonably priced too.

If you want the 2.0-litre 163bhp petrol engine then the Sport designation is your only choice for less than £25,000 - the diesel adds a further £1,480 on top.

But fear not, as the 6 uses SkyActiv technology on its transmission, body, chassis and engine to help reduce both emissions and fuel consumption. The firm’s i-Stop cuts the engine at a standstill, while the i-Eloop uses regenerative braking to increase economy by up to 10%.

So while the 1.8-litre petrol wouldn’t be the natural choice for low running costs, least of all a workhorse-like estate, it’s not the madness you might be expecting. Officially this 163BHP car can return up to 47.9mpg on the combined cycle and emits 136g/km.

In real life we saw just over 40mpg without really trying, and combined with the low road tax that means running costs should be refreshingly low. It’ll also cost less to service your 6, and insurance is a handy four groups lower than the similarly powered 173bhp 2.2-litre diesel – not to mention being £1,980 cheaper to buy.

Despite the value on offer, there are other reasons to buy the new Mazda 6 Tourer. For a start, it’s great to drive. The firm has transferred some of its know-how from the excellent MX-5 sportscar into the practical estate.

There’s plenty of grip on offer, and while the steering is on the light side it has plenty of feedback and combines perfectly with the short-throw gearshift. Bodyroll is kept well in check and when there’s no children or other precious cargo on board the 6 can be driven with enthusiastic abandon. 

If you do need to move any bulky objects the 506-litre boot (with the seats in place) expands to a useful 1,648 litres. That’s only measured to the window line too – going higher liberates even more space.

So it’s relatively cheap to buy, costs little to run, is loaded with kit, proves incredibly practical, looks great and is even good fun to drive – all of which makes the Mazda 6 2.0-litre 163BHP Sport rather good value indeed.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Read our full Mazda 6 Estate review here

Also Consider

Ford Mondeo

Due for replacement imminently, a recent upgrade to the Mondeo's trim levels keeps its competitive. It's also just as good to drive as the Mazda 6 and equally as spacious for occupants and cargo.

Skoda Superb Estate

Not nearly as stylish but Skoda has built its reuptation on providing value for money. The 1.8-litre TSI petrol engine is a cracker too, while Elegance spec models come loaded with kit.

BMW 3-Series Touring

In terms of car park appeal the BMW beats the Mazda hands down, but the payoff for those pretty looks are, in comparison to the Mazda, poor practicality and a much more expensive purchase price.