2015 is set to be an exciting year for Mazda as every model is getting a significant upgrade with enhancements in standard equipment as well as refreshed external and internal styling. With this in mind, I was excited to be invited to Harrogate for a play in the new Mazda 6, but less so to hear that the 4×4 version isn’t yet on our shores.
Along with the improved standard equipment throughout the range, the new Mazda 6 comes with some impressive bits of technology in the optional Safety Pack, or as I prefer to call them, witchcraft. There’s adaptive LED headlamps, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Rear Smart City Brake Support, amongst others. The latter, I feel I should explain, is a system that, when reversing between 1 and 5mph automatically applies the brakes if it detects something behind you, which is quite handy.
The new Mazda 6 model line up has a whopping 28 variations to choose from. You have the saloon and Tourer and 5 levels of trim, from SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav. With the Saloon you have a choice of 9 diesel and 7 petrol variants, and 9 diesel and 3 petrol choices for the Tourer.
I don’t like making decisions at the best of times, so confronted with a plethora of press cars, I chose the red Tourer (or estate to you and me), purely because it was red, and red cars are better to photograph on a cold, dank and grey February afternoon in Yorkshire. Turned out, the ‘red one’ was a 2ltr (165ps) Sport Nav Tourer with an on the road price of £25,395, and very nice it was too.
As promised during our briefing, although there are changes on the outside of the vehicle like the grill and lighting, the majority are on the inside which are very nice indeed. There’s a new centre console with leather trim integrating on the dash. The Multimedia Commander knob is a bit chunkier and heavier too, feeling more purposeful and worthy. There’s also a new 7”, full colour central touch screen that incorporates many things, including a DAB radio – a first for Mazda.
The addition of an electric ‘handbrake’ over the traditional type does make the dash less cluttered, but I continue to be saddened at its demise in most new vehicles. Saying that, it worked well.
Anyway, what’s it like to drive, you may ask. It’s rather nice, thanks! Apart from the new dash layout that I’ve already mentioned, the drivers leather, 8-way power adjustable seats on the Sport Nav was snug and supportive, I can imagine spending a whole day driving and not raiding the medicine drawer for my back ache pills when arriving home.
It was the first time I’d driven a car with a Head-up display and I found myself using the new more than I thought I would, more clever witchcraft type technology.
Meandering along the B roads around Harrogate, nothing came as a surprise, the Mazda 6 Tourer was doing what it was made for, cruising. I found the ride good, and both the steering and engine were responsive, so I thought I’d take it out of its comfort zone by navigating as many mud encrusted farm tracks as I could (I couldn’t help myself). I sought to find out what the Tourer was like when faced with patches of manure, pot holes, blind corners, mud, water and mad tractor drivers. It was boringly well behaved, yet still fun to drive.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the 4×4 version of the Tourer isn’t yet on our shores, if Mazda do decide to introduce it in the UK, personally I think it would be a great hit for those who aren’t interested in buying a ‘proper’ 4×4.
Before sheepishly returning the now filthy car to the PR team, I quickly parked up and played with the rear seats. My theory is, if you buy an estate car you generally need the space, and the easier it is to get the rear seats folded down flat, the better. I’ve driven other, more expensive cars were you wouldn’t believe the struggle that’s involved, but with the Mazda 6 you simply press a bottom on the top corner of the seat and it springs forward like a startled gazelle spooked by a hungry Cheetah, but a bit less dramatic!
Driving back to Lancashire I reflected on what was actually a very nice car to drive, and if I had only one complaint, it would be the reflection of the dashboard in the windscreen, but I’m sure you’d get used to it, besides, it was nowhere near as bad as the Nissan Juke I drove last year.
So, it appears that Mazda have indeed done their homework, collating past critisisms and addressing each one, and I’m happy to conclude that the new Mazda 6 Tourer didn’t disappoint.