This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Mazda 6 Estate review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Like other mainstream car manufacturers, Mazda makes its ambitions to challenge the premium brands with distinctive exterior styling and has come up with a handsome-looking model with well-balanced lines and the best aerodynamics in its class. The theme continues inside with an attractive and well-planned layout that uses high-grade materials with discreet, dark cloth upholstery on the lead-in version and neat, concise instrumentation.

Unfortunately some of the materials used on the dashboard don't feel quite as upmarket as on mid to high-spec Ford Mondeos, while certain controls such as the air conditioning dials, lack that solid feel of quality.

There's plenty of room for luggage in the most practical version of the Mazda6 and the 30mm of extra length in the bodywork plus additional height creates a more spacious environment for passengers as well. Significantly, headroom in the rear is improved and the compartment also has extra knee room. Visibility is good all round, and a big windscreen gives the driver a wide view of the road ahead.

With centre armrests fitted front and rear plus air conditioning, the Mazda6 offers a relaxing environment for comfortable long-distance family travel. Compared with the previous model noise from the petrol engines is now far less intrusive than on the original car, while other outside noise is also impressively muted. The 2.2-litre diesel available from early 2009 is much quieter than the original 2.0-litre diesel at the lower and higher ends of the rev range.