2013 MAZDA6 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium wagon
Price: $38,800 (plus on-roads)
Engine/transmission: 2.5 litre SkyActiv petrol/six-speed automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.6 l/100km | tested: 7.5 l/100km
What’s not to like about Mazda’s new 6? Gorgeous style, impressive SkyActiv efficiency, more power than ever, and loaded with features?
The 2013 third-generation model has grown externally, and dropped both the hatch bodystyle and manual transmission. It’s bigger, but loses cargo space in both sedan and wagon variants despite using a spacesaver spare for the first time.
And, interestingly, the wagon version rides on a wheelbase that’s 80mm shorter than the sedan, and is 65mm shorter overall.
With the 2.5 litre SkyActiv petrol engine under the bonnet ($2850 cheaper than the diesel), the wagon manages a combined consumption of 6.6 l/100km - that’s the kind of efficiency a small car would be proud of; and without a CVT in sight.
Given the second-rung Touring model sneaks in under $40,000, putting it right in the slot for families, that’s the one we’ve chosen to put under the TMR addled eye.
Quality: Stepping into the Touring, you wouldn’t think it is the second-from-bottom trim grade. Ours was particularly inviting, resplendent in the off-white perforated-leather trim option (that stayed cool in the worst of Sydney’s recent heat).
A choice of off-white or black leather trim is available on Reflex Blue (like ours), Soul Red, and Meteor Grey paint colours for the 6 Touring, GT, and Atenza models, while other colour choices are limited to just the black leather.
While not particularly practical for family use, the off-white leather looks a treat against the black leatherette contrasting trim with red stitching, along with metallic highlights throughout.
The dash design forgoes tacky faux wood, carbon fibre or silver paint for a unique maroon metallic dash-wide inlay - a welcome splash of honest colour in an otherwise staid layout.
Overall fit and finish is typically slick and tight, and with soft-touch textures throughout. Switchgear is well-placed and all buttons feature a quality damped feel.
Comfort: The front seats are well-shaped, and the eight-way adjustment and dual memory function of the driver’s seat is a surprise for this price bracket (the front passenger gets four-way electric adjustment).
The small diameter/thick rimmed steering wheel sits comfortably under the hand and adjusts for rake and reach. Rear seat legroom and shoulder room is also fine.
Equipment: For under $40,000, the 6 Touring does not disappoint. Besides leather trim, it comes with a 5.8-inch screen, standard satnav, parking sensors front and rear, 11-speaker Bose audio, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate and cruise control, and bluetooth telephony and audio among its key features.
Storage: Passenger storage includes bottle holders in each door and dual cupholders front and rear, along with map pockets behind each front seat. There’s a two-way cargo blind that can be extended to the roof when carrying cargo above seat height.
The rear seat folds 60/40, but the seat bases need to be compressed to create a flat load floor.
Cargo storage has been reduced over the previous wagon model, despite a spacesaver spare. The 2013 wagon provides 451 litres with the seats-up, and 1593 litres, seats-down (69 litres and 158 litres less respectively on the previous model).
By comparison, the 6 wagon offers marginally more cargo space than the 403/1560 litres of the CX-5 SUV.
All petrol 6s are rated at a maximum 1500kg braked tow capacity (100kg less than diesels).
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The petrol 6’s 138kw/250Nm 2.5 litre four provides comfortable performance. While maximum torque may arrive at 3250rpm, there’s plenty of tractability earlier in the rev range, and it will happily spin to kiss its 6000rpm redline.
Like most modern autos, the 6’s six-speed tends to hold taller gears under light throttle in the name of fuel efficiency, but responds well to an instructive prod of the right foot.
For a sportier feel (and performance), slide the selector across to the manual gate. Left here, the 6 will downshift more intuitively and rev higher before upshifting.
For those wanting control of gearchanges, the correctly configured (pull for upshift, push away to downshift) manual gate and paddle shifters are available.
Whether left in drive, or shifted manually, the 6 has ample ‘go’ for easy highway overtaking, had no trouble in our hands holding to highway speeds along the undulating Pacific Highway, and is untroubled by hills.
Fuel consumption? The worst we managed on test was 8.1 l/100km after heavy urban driving (like all new 6’s, ours was also fitted with Mazda’s switchable i-stop stop/start system).
Our best figure was an astounding 6.3 l/100km, which was set at a steady 110km/h, two-up and stacked with luggage, in 48-degree heat with the air-con working overtime.
Averaged out over several fills, our 7.5 l/100km result is an excellent real-world figure for a 1494kg wagon with a 2.5 litre engine and automatic transmission.
Refinement: Mazda has successfully eradicated the excessive road noise of its predecessors, bringing the new model into very impressive territory.
The 2013 Mazda6 would challenge more expensive German equivalents for on-road cabin refinement.
Engine noise is a tad gruff down low though, but gives way to a nice throaty growl above 3500rpm under heavy throttle.
Suspension: The new 6 employs lighter MacPherson struts up front, with previous models using a dynamically superior, yet heavier, double wishbone design.
However, you’d be hard pressed to pick the difference from a handling perspective. The new model’s 35mm wider front track minimises bodyroll and assists turn-in.
Rear suspension remains a multilink setup. Dirt roads on our testing highlighted the good chassis balance, a result of a well matched spring and damper combination. Overall, on tarmac and gravel, the 6’s ride has an upmarket feel.
The new model’s well-weighted electric steering assistance trounces its predecessor for feel and accuracy. When hurried through bends, the new 6 is certainly more capable and composed.
Braking: The new 6’s 297mm ventilated front and 287mm solid rear discs caused no concern on test in terms of performance or feel, at least matching the wagon’s 1494kg kerb weight.
We also experienced a commendable lack of brake dust on the wheels, despite several hundred kilometres of hard driving.
ANCAP rating: Not tested.
Safety features: Standard features include six airbags (front, front side and full-length curtain), stability and traction control, hill-start assist, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, front seatbelt pretensioners and anti-whiplash front seats.
Additional safety features include blind-spot monitoring, forward obstruction, lane departure, rear and cross-traffic monitoring and auto high-beam.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Mazda specifies six month/10,000km intervals. Service costs can vary, so consult your Mazda dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium wagon ($41,490) - Older design lacks freshness of 6; similar 127kW/235Nm outputs and weight, but AWD helps push Liberty’s consumption to 8.0 l/100km despite CVT auto. Slightly larger load space and 1500kg braked towing capacity.
Costs $2,690 more, brings ‘Eyesight’ (driver alert functions exclusive to $9k dearer 6 Atenza), and sunroof, but lacks the 6 Touring’s satnav or stop/start. (see Liberty reviews)
Hyundai i40 Tourer Elite petrol ($38,990) - Smaller 2.0 litre engine is a bit ‘buzzy’ and works harder for its 130kW/213Nm, pushing fuel consumption to 7.7 l/100km.
Offers a larger cargo area, matches the 1500kg braked towing capacity, but lacks stop/start and overall refinement. (see i40 reviews)
Opel Insignia Sports Tourer petrol ($40,490) - Potent 162kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo pushes consumption up to 9.0 l/100km (95RON), but also beats 6 for cargo space and braked tow rating (1800kg).
Close to 6 Touring on price and spec but lacks sat-nav or stop/start. (see Insignia reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Our experience of the 2013 Mazda6 Touring wagon backs up the capabilities suggested by its spec sheet.
Its more refined, lighter, quicker, and more efficient than before, and, despite reduced cargo space, remains close to its segment rivals.
In wagon guise, the new 6 is a compelling non-SUV option for buyers looking for extra space but preferring the better dynamics a sedan or wagon can offer .
The lack of manual option will deter few, most drivers will appreciate the quality pairing of the six-speed auto with a superior 2.5 litre petrol.
Go have a steer for yourself, we reckon you’ll be impressed.