What is the Mazda 6?
Low key but popular with high-mileage company-car drivers, the Mazda 6 has been one of the less trumpeted large family cars currently slogging up and down the nation’s motorways. A smart-looking saloon, practical hatchback or businesslike estate, it shares components with the Ford Mondeo but is a very different proposition, not least because it has its own range of engines and specific suspension tuning. It’s also quite distinctly Japanese, not only in its angular, sharp-edged styling but also in its cabin layout and the way it drives. One of the sportier options in its class, it is a more entertaining companion than either the Toyota Avensis or the Honda Accord.
The second-generation Mazda 6 arrived in the UK in early 2008 and was facelifted not long afterwards, in 2010. A new generation was released in 2013, and secondhand prices of this generation should now ease. The Mazda 6 holds its value well and has never been the cheapest choice, especially in diesel estate form, although the earliest examples now change hands for banger money – and so are great value in view of their good build quality and track record for reliability.
Of the Mk 2 range (larger and significantly more comfortable to ride in than the original), you can choose between 1.8, 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrol engines, plus a refined 2.2-litre diesel that replaced the 2-litre in early 2009 without increasing fuel consumption. The diesel has been offered in 127bhp, 161bhp and 178bhp guises, all of them perfectly competent and capable of towing up to 1,600kg. Of the petrol motors the 2-litre is the best all-rounder. The 1.8 is adequate for most everyday family duties, but it struggles at high speeds when fully laden.
The hatchback has one of the larger boots in this class, at 510 litres or more than 1,700 litres when the rear seats are folded flat (an easy one-touch operation); the boot of the saloon, which was discontinued in 2009 — the saloon, not the boot — is also commendably deep. The estate version looks smart and purposeful and has 50 extra litres of load-carrying capacity over the hatchback, with a wide-opening tailgate and the easy-folding seats for hassle-free loading.
The ride is firm even in the smaller-wheeled versions, but the 6 is comfortable enough and well composed. In all body styles the cabin is well laid out, provides good all-round visibility and a relaxed driving position and has supportive seats with plenty of headroom and legroom. Despite a few cheap-looking cabin-trim details, this is a car that looks and feels solid and safe.
Equipment is sufficient even in entry-level versions — there’s air-conditioning and an MP3-compatible stereo in all — and Mazda has sold a fair few special-edition versions with a host of extra features.
On the safety front, standard equipment includes full-length curtain airbags, electronic stability control and daytime running lights, and the Mazda6 earns the full five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash testing.
What to look out for when buying a used Mazda 6
Problems have been noted with the diesel engines. The exhaust particulate filter of the 2.2-litre diesel is prone to clogging; some owners have also reported turbocharger failure and exhaust oxygen sensor problems with this engine. Other troubles suffered by some owners include air-conditioning and central locking faults, keyless entry/ignition glitches and problems with the adaptive front headlights, tyre-pressure monitoring system and throttle pedal (which sometimes sticks). There are also complaints about the real-life fuel economy of the diesels. To put this list of woes into context, though, many Mazda6 owners have happily run their cars to very high mileages without difficulties. One niggle from owners is that Mazda does not supply a spare wheel, instead providing a can of tyre-repair spray.
Of the Mk 2 range, a small number of the early 2.5-litre petrol models were recalled to have their piston-pin retaining clips changed, failure of the original ones potentially resulting in serious engine damage.
Service from Mazda dealers has been patchy, and the Mazda6 was voted 11th (of 15) in its class and 86th overall in the 2012 JD Power/What Car? survey of reliability and customer satisfaction, beating only the Vauxhall Insignia, Renault Laguna, Peugeot 407 and Vauxhall Vectra. It was 25th in the Auto Express Driver Power survey, in which Mazda as a whole was voted a rather mediocre 17th out of 30.
The One to Buy
Mazda 6 2.0 TS hatchback
- 1999cc, 4 cylinders
- 153bhp @ 6200rpm
- 142 lb ft @ 4500rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 10.3sec
- Top Speed:
- 40.9mpg (combined)
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4755mm, W 1795mm, H 1440mm