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Mazda6 Estate (2008 – 2013) expert review

By Richard Dredge, 22nd November 2010

The verdict

The Mazda6 Estate is the family car that has it all. Good looks, practicality, masses of equipment and it’s great to drive too.

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Expert rating:

4.3

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Well-equipped
  • Great to drive

Cons

  • Sport model has firm ride
  • Refinement could be better
  • Very fussy interior design

Full Review

1. Exterior

You can’t accuse the Mazda6 of looking boring, If anything, the design is perhaps a little bit over-fussy, with scoops, vents, lines and spoilers. However, while Mazda have gone a little over the top with the details, you can’t argue with the proportions – especially the sharply sloping tailgate that doesn’t reduce carrying capacity. The steeply rising waistline and pronounced haunches over the wheels simply add to the visual drama.

Our rating: 5

2. Interior

Mazda’s designers clearly worked overtime when sketching the interior too, as once again there are details all over the place. That’s not to say the 6’s cabin is a mess, but it takes some familiarity before you get the best out of it. Part of the issue is that the 6 comes with so much equipment, that Mazda has had to find homes for a lot of controls. Once occupants have worked out where everything is though, using the 6 is a breeze, as the ergonomics are spot on, with everything within easy reach.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

The Mazda6 Estate is one of the most practical cars around, with a load bay that’ll swallow 519 litres with the rear seats in place and a massive 1,751 litres with them folded down. Accessing that space is simplicity itself – simply pull a lever and the seat backs tip forward to create a flat load bay floor, free from intrusions. The cabin is equally accomplished, with plenty of space for four, or five as long as the one in the middle of the rear seats doesn’t have long legs.

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

This is another high spot, as the 6 Estate handles superbly. The steering is perfectly weighted and the 6 is genuinely fun to drive. The brakes offer bite and feel while the smooth action of the gearchange gives an impression of solidity that’s very reassuring. If there’s a downside to the Mazda’s dynamics, it’s that the suspension is on the firm side. That’s no problem generally, but on Sport models with 18-inch wheels, the ride is quite hard. It’s not uncomfortable, there’s just room for some softening up.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

Mazda offers a 153bhp 2-litre petrol engine along with a 168bhp 2.5-litre unit and a 2.2-litre turbodiesel. The latter unit is offered in 163bhp or 177bhp forms, both of which offer smooth and power delivery, with brilliant flexibility thrown in for good measure. The entry-level petrol unit gives a 131mph top speed and provides a 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds, while the 2.5-litre unit ups this to 137mph and cuts the 0-62mph time to 8.4 seconds. It’s hard to see why you’d opt for petrol power though, when even the 2.2D 163bhp estate can manage 131mph and 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds – the petrol edition isn’t any cheaper. Even better is the super-muscular 2.2D 177bhp, which does 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and tops out at 135mph.

Our rating: 4

6. Running costs

Despite its all-round excellence, the Mazda6 Estate doesn’t retain its value well, so its depreciation is the biggest running cost of all. Predictably it’s the petrol-powered cars that lose their value the quickest, while they also have the highest CO2 emissions and are the least economical. The 2-litre petrol edition manages 40.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 161g/km while the 2.5-litre variant achieves just 34.9mpg with emissions of 188g/km. Opt for diesel power. It makes no difference whether you go for the 163bhp edition or the one with 177bhp, both return and average of 52.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 143g/km.

Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

As with most Japanese car makers, Mazda has an enviable and well-deserved reputation for superb reliability. Despite the generous equipment levels on even the most basic Mazda6 Estates, there don’t seem to be any dependability issues yet.

Our rating: 5

8. Safety

With a five-star EuroNCAP crash test rating, the Mazda6 Estate has proved it’ll look after its occupants in the event of a collision. It’s not just a strong structure that makes the 6 so safe though, as it also comes with traction control, electronic stability programme, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and on the TS2 plus the Sport, a blind spot information system. Naturally there are airbags galore as well. Those in the first row get front, curtain and side airbags while those in the rear get curtain bags. As you’d expect, there are three-point seatbelts for everyone plus Isofix mountings too.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Mazda is renowned for its generous standard equipment levels and it’s no different here. There are three trim levels on offer: TS, TS2 and Sport. TS comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, cruise control plus a trip computer. Move up to TS2 and Mazda throws in 17-inch alloys, front fog lights, parking sensors all round and automatic wipers. Opt for the top-spec Sport and also included are 18-inch alloy wheels, half-leather trim, Bose eight-speaker hi-fi, tyre pressure monitoring and xenon headlights. The result of such generosity leaves few available options. Metallic paint and leather trim are all you can choose from, although there are a few dealer-fit options on offer.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

Sleek, superbly built, well-equipped and great to drive as well as practical, there really is no good reason not to buy a Mazda6 Estate. Visit the Mazda website now for more information on the Mazda6.

Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.3stars

  • Exterior5
  • Interior4
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability5
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?5

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

6 Estate 2.2d 163 TS

Excellent engine and well-equipped

Best-seller:

6 Estate 2.2d 163 TS

Entry-level diesel is powerful and reasonably cheap to run

Blow the budget:

6 Estate 2.2d 180 Sport

Muscular diesel engine, great looks and lots of toys

There really is no good reason not to buy a Mazda6 Estate.