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Mazda 6 Saloon engines, drive and performance

2013 - 2022 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by Murray Scullion Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 31 August 2022

  • Only petrol on offer
  • 2.5 is the one for performance fans
  • No diesel, hybrid or electric offerings

Power comes in the form of 145hp and 165hp 2.0-litre units, the first of which is also available with an automatic gearbox. The 2.5-litre unit, meanwhile, produces 194hp and comes solely with a six-speed automatic.

Slowest of the petrols is the 145hp version, which takes 9.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph, rising to 10.9 seconds in automatic form. Its top speed stands at 129mph, or 128mph with the automatic.

Next in line is the manual-only 165hp petrol, which requires 9.4 seconds for the benchmark sprint. Meanwhile, the 194hp automatic-only 2.5-litre petrol is the fastest 6, taking 8.1 seconds to hit 62mph and reaching 138mph.

We’ve driven the 165hp manual petrol and the 194hp automatic petrol. The former pulls smoothly from low engine speeds, though you have to work it reasonably hard for brisk acceleration.

Mazda 6 cornering
Mazda 6 cornering

This is no hardship as the gearbox is slick and satisfying to use, but if you’re used to diesel models or turbocharged petrols that offer a glut of power at low engine speeds it can initially feel underpowered until you adjust your driving style.

Drivers who like an engaging car, however, are likely to value the sharp response to the throttle and the fact that, unlike many large petrols, you can actually hear this motor when worked hard. Performance should be adequate for most owners.

The 194hp 2.5-litre feels notably faster, however this sensation is dulled by the standard-fit automatic gearbox. Unlike most modern petrol cars of this size – which use turbochargers for extra low-engine-speed punch – you have to work the engine quite hard to extract its power. Be firmer with the throttle, however, to encourage it to change down a gear or two and performance is more than brisk enough for most drivers.

Mazda 6 instrument panel
Mazda 6 instrument panel

What’s it like to drive?

  • Feels sharp for this class of car
  • Comfort levels remain high
  • 2.5 petrol has heavier steering

Typically the sharper a car is around corners the less comfortable it is, but Mazda has successfully created a comfy but fun-to-drive saloon in the 6.

The suspension is relatively firm but impressively smooth, even with the larger 19-inch wheels of high-specification models. Bigger bumps are dealt with without fuss and while it’s not the softest riding car in the world, the 6 offers a very good balance between remaining planted around corners and absorbing poor road surfaces.

Precise steering gives a good idea of how much grip the front tyres have, while the suspension is well judged for absorbing most bumps quickly and without fuss, as it keeps the body in check around corners. The 2.5-litre model offers weightier steering, which provides an extra degree of confidence when taking corners at speed.

Mazda 6 driving front
Mazda 6 driving front

The Mazda 6 is extremely competent and nearly just as much fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series. It has plenty of grip and you have to be pushing extremely hard for the car to get out of shape or lean notably.

Throw in dependable brakes and a very slick and satisfying manual gearchange and the 6 saloon is a pleasure to drive, with no handling vices to report. Mazda markets its cars with the phrase ‘car and driver in perfect harmony’ and this sense sums up how the 6 drives well.

All of the controls feel consistently weighted and responsive, with the whole car feeling as one around corners. There’s a balanced feel to the steering, gearchange, suspension and brakes too. The real positive to this, is that it helps the 6 to appeal equally to keen drivers and those who find driving a chore alike.