Something of a rarity these days are 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engines. So, what was it like in the Mazda6 194PS GT Sport Nav?
As you start off, you get a sort of whirring sound; then this dissipates and cruising speeds are nice and quiet. If you bang your foot down and let the engine rip, there’s a very satisfying growl as the revs head up over 6000 rpm.
Not that it’s hugely fast, with zero-to-sixty-two mph in 8.1 seconds…but that’s undoubtedly quick enough for everyday performance for most drivers.
The automatic six-speed gearbox gave smooth changes. The car is also equipped with a ‘sport’ mode operated by a little push/pull switch in the central console. I have to say that I tried it just for the sake of trying it, but, as usual, with these features (found in many other cars of course), I admit I felt that there was no real point to it.
The brakes worked beautifully, powerfully and smoothly in simulated emergencies.
The steering was nicely-weighted and the car handled quick direction changes with aplomb.
The all-important ride was excellent, helping to ensure, first of all, that poor road-surfaces were no big deal and that longer journeys were in no way tiring.
The test car was the Tourer estate version and extending the luggage area 60/40 could not have been easier; it was also easy to shut the tailgate one-handed.
Four adults can travel comfortably and getting in and out of the back did not require any particular agility…the same can be said for Mazda’s competitors, of course, but not with every single four-door car.
Once settled aboard, the Mazda6 proved very comfortable; it was also a pleasant place to be with its smart interior design featuring plenty of soft-touch, even to the woolly material on the sun-visors. The seats in this top-of-the-range version are in Nappa leather. Mazda has a good history in trying to support eco-friendliness, and it may be that using leather may put some people off. Conversely, the Japanese Sen wood trim is from sustainable forests.
The GT Sport Nav is absolutely festooned with techno features. Some, but definitely not all, work, or no doubt, would work if the situation was desperate as in the driver alert system.
So there is Mazda’s clever MRCC (Mazda Range Cruise Control): this works in automatic versions even when the car is at a standstill; Smart City Brake Support can detect even a pedestrian at speeds from 6-50 mph; a host of such safety systems would help mitigate potential accidents or reduce their severity.
But, Mazda (and this is not just me saying this), please re-think your infotainment and central display system. To make sure it wasn’t just me that struggled with its cumbersomeness, I got a 37-year-old and a 25-year-old to have a go while passengering. One operation required a total of seven different stages involving Mazda’s ‘Commander’ Control knob and touch-screen to change the brightness of the picture.
And the satnav…now manufacturers don’t make their own, they buy them in. So, it’s true, but frustrating, that this Mazda was just another car that could not/would not recognise my home address, even though this address has existed for twenty-eight years. In the case of this particular satnav, what was even stranger was that the postcode was recognised, but then it wanted my house number…why? When I put the number in, I was directed to a completely different street with a different postcode.
Bring back maps…and an old-fashioned rheostat controls that, actually, one of which the Mazda does have in order to control the brightness of the main instrument display.
All of this did tarnish my impression of an otherwise really nice car.
If you like features such as a heated steering wheel, heated seats for winter and ventilated seats for the summer, along with other creature comforts, then buy this car, but use its Apple or Android connectivity to help get you where you want to be!
I like road-sign recognition features, especially when you can get them into a heads-up display as in this Mazda and the speedo has little red dots on the outer ring at each speed limit that extend dot-by-dot following the needle should you exceed the limit — very neat.
For the first half of our test week, the trips were all between three and eighteen miles; petrol consumption was indicated after 140 miles at 34.3 mpg. I then took the car on the motorway to double that distance, at the end of which the figure had risen to 37.6 mpg. This is pretty much exactly as the official combined fuel consumption figure.
Mazda’s Skyactiv-G engine has a de-activation system that, they say, ‘seamlessly switches’ from four to two cylinders to save fuel and emissions. Before I took this fact on board, I do claim that I could just detect the return from two to four cylinders: I really thought that there might be some minor hesitancy problem in the engine. Now I know better.
Upfront was a bit different: I really had to bend double to get in. However, at least this exercises your suppleness!
This Mazda6, as tested, was £34,505. Worth it? It had its technology flaws, but its many undoubted attractions may outweigh them.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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