There’s two engines in the line-up: a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre diesel. The petrol will be offered in two power outputs – 143bhp and 163bhp – while the diesel will come in either a 148bhp variant or the higher powered 173bhp Sport version.
We drove the 163bhp petrol with a six-speed manual and although performance is adequate – 0-62mph takes 9.1 seconds with a top speed of 133mph – we think the diesels are most suitable for this car. You can go for the lower-powered petrol that takes half a second more to get to 62mph with a top speed of 128mph. There’s no auto option for the petrol models but it is available on the diesels. We also drove the two turbocharged diesels, which are much more suited to this car. The stats for the lower powered diesel make reasonable reading - 0-62mph takes 9.1 seconds with a top speed of 130mph - while the higher-powered diesel has an impressive benchmark time of 7.9 seconds, topping out at 137mph. You can expect a 0.8s drop-off in acceleration if you go for the six-speed auto.
So, the acceleration figures paint a pretty rosy picture whatever you choose (unless it’s an auto), but for best Mazda6 Estate performance you need to go for the higher-powered diesel. Unlike many diesels that offer a big chunk of power low down in the rev range, this offers a smooth power delivery that’s great for pulling away and overtaking. On the motorway it trundles along in a relaxed way, and if you do feel like a bit of a jaunt on a B-road, it’ll not disappoint. It’s impressive in all manner of situations.
The lower-powered diesel is still a decent option and its low emissions are attractive but it just doesn’t have the fun-factor of the 173bhp version.
The Mazda6 wagon is extremely competent. Corners are dealt with easily: the car stays planted in tight bends and the pleasing absence of body lean and decent grip levels make it a pleasure to drive.
The steering does feel more accurate and precise on turn-in than outgoing model but it’s a little dull in the straight-ahead position. It’s well-weighted though and that, with strong brakes and a smooth gearchange amounts to impressive overall handling.
It’s better on the road than a Vauxhall Insignia and Kia Optima and easily on par with a Ford Mondeo or even a VW Passat. Of course, it’s not anywhere near as composed as a BMW 3 Series Touring or Audi A4 Avant in the bends but for a mid-range estate, it’s up there among the best.
The Mazda6 is a nice place in which to sit. All models include steering wheel-mounted controls, which are all sensibly placed and logical. The sat nav can be controlled via a rotating knob in the central console and, thankfully, the sat nav has full postcode recognition. It’s all very functional and there’s a pleasant form to all that function.
If you opt for the off-white/black leather upholstery combination you will get that premium feel that one might enjoy in more expensive models with prestige badges. The handbrake will be on the left-hand side of the central tunnel but that’s not particularly taxing.
The pedals are well placed for the driver and although Mazda was at pains to point out that its engineers had moved the front pillar further back to increase forward visibility that does mean that there’s less visibility at a wider angle. The rear window is a little shallow so rear visibility isn’t particularly great when compared with other estates in this class.
Most impressive is the way Mazda has managed to contain wind, road and engine noise. At motorway speeds Mazda6 Estate comfort levels are extremely good. Having a conversation with your rear-seat passengers doesn’t require you to raise your voice at all.
The seats are comfortable with plenty of lateral support but we did need to adjust the driver’s seat a few times to get really comfy. It needs a little bit of patience and trial and error to get exactly the right driving position
We tested the car on very smooth European roads and as far as we could tell ride quality is also excellent, particularly on the 17-inch wheels.
We do reserve judgement on the 19-inchers though. The car felt a little on the firm side on the bigger wheels which, on UK roads, might present some problems for those who like a softer, more wallowy driving experience that you get on say, a Peugeot 508 SW. Still, it’s not a deal breaker particularly for those who prefer firmer handling on the corners.
Rear legroom and headroom is more than ample and you can carry five adults in comfort for journeys under an hour. Any longer though, and the middle-seat passenger might start to feel a little hemmed in.