Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 82%

The Mazda 6 was the car to inject some real style into the increasingly-stagnant mid-sized saloon market.

Continuing the Zoom-Zoom offensive, Mazda is targeting sales through the way it drives and looks, rather than the more practical elements which usually sell this type of car.

1. Looks 8/10

Compared to the Honda Accord, Vauxhall Vectra and Renault Laguna, the Mazda 6 is a handsome beast. Its angular nose gives it a direct connection with the RX-8 coupe, while the clear rear lights incorporate the funky coloured units favoured by modifiers across the country. All models come with alloy wheels, ranging from 16-inches in diameter to 18-inches for the sporty MPS model.

2. Looks inside 7/10

The interior features heavily with a combination of dark grey and black plastics with red glowing instrumentation. It’s all pretty uninspiring, especially when compared to the latest class leaders. The controls are where you’d expect them and the intense red bits are easy to read, even in bright sunlight. The seats are very supportive and comfortable, and the overall driving position is excellent.

3. Practicality 8/10

The Mazda 6 has an impressively spacious cabin, with plenty of room for all occupants, although six-footers may struggle with reduced headroom in the rear. The Mazda 6’s boot is excellent, with its 492-litres of space rising to more than 1,660 litres with the seats folded. There’s plenty of storage around the cabin too.

4. Ride and Handling 9/10

This is where Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom ethos shines brightest. Its steering is direct and well weighted, meaning the Mazda 6 can corner quickly and without fuss. There’s minimal body roll and the car feels composed at any speed. The ride is firm, but never uncomfortable, and can easily compete with its very best rivals from Germany.

5. Performance 8/10

Five engines are available: a pair of two litre diesels, offering 119bhp or 141bhp and three petrols in 1.8, 2.0 and 2.3-litre guises as well as the 2.3 turbo found in the hot four-wheel drive MPS. The petrols produce 120, 147, 166 and 260bhp respectively. We’ve driven the low power diesel and found its 11 second 0-62mph time and top speed of 121mph less than we’d hoped – the joint slowest, with the 1.8-litre petrol. Performance junkies may want to seek out the Mazda 6 MPS performance model, which offers very impressive performance and grip.

6. Running Costs 8/10

The Mazda 6 is cheaper than many of its rivals, and offers good fuel economy. The 119bhp diesel we drove returns 43.5mpg, while the more powerful 141bhp covers an average of 47.1mpg. The petrol models cover between 36.2 and 31mpg, or 27.7 for the hot MPS model. Emissions of 165g/km for the diesel models place them in £165 tax band D, while the petrols emit between 184 and 207g/km, meaning they fall into bands E, F and G. Again, the MPS model’s 245g/km CO2 emissions means it belongs in the top tax band G. Insurance is average across the range.

7. Reliability 10/10

Mazda is known for its reliability, and it puts in an exemplary showing in the Reliability Index for the cost and frequency of breakdowns. The Mazda 6 feels well constructed and built from quality materials, and although it has been on sale since 2002, there are very few common faults.

8. Safety 8/10

A four star EuroNCAP crash test score seems disappointing by today’s standards, but was considered excellent when it was tested in 2003. Even so, it still scores three stars for child occupant protection, which is still regarded as a good rating. All models come equipped with driver, passenger, front side and curtain airbags, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and whiplash-reducing headrests. The TS model adds a deactivation switch for the passenger airbag, while the TS2 comes with stability and traction control systems and brake assist.

9. Equipment 8/10

All models in the Mazda 6 range come with alloy wheels, a CD player, front and rear electric windows and air-con. The TS model adds cruise control, while the TS2 receives a trip computer, twin exhaust pipes, metallic interior trim and climate control. The Sport model adds a 7-speaker Bose audio system with a 6-CD autochanger, xenon headlamps and larger 17-inch wheels. The range-topping 6 MPS also comes with a bodykit, 18-inch alloys and leather upholstery. Mazda has also produced a number of special editions, each with extra equipment.

10. X-Factor 8/10

The Mazda 6 was the car to put the fun back into the mid-sized saloon market. And long after its launch, it still manages to lure drivers away from the Mondeo/Vectra/Avensis market by combining style, value and reliability.

Key facts

Model tested: Mazda 6 TS 2.0 diesel 5dr
On the road price: £15,650
Price range: £14,150 – £23,520
Date tested: May 2007
Road tester: Stuart Milne