Thursday, September 1, 2011

Devon test drives a Mazda family car




When the Mazda 6 was first introduced, it was seen as the sports sedan among family cars. It was stylish, sporty and still had the ability of carrying a small family and their luggage. The new Mazda 6 is bigger, roomier and more practical than the previous generation. Does this mean the Mazda 6 has finally grown up?

Likes: More fun to drive than rivals, roomy interior with a massive boot, large equipment level and sporty exterior looks.

Dislikes: Not as sporty as previous form, some interior trim bits feel cheap, no more wagon option.

Performance: There are two engines available for the Mazda 6. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 170hp, and a 3.7-liter six-cylinder with 272hp. Pick of the bunch is the base four-cylinder engine. It's fuel efficient and is very flexible. The six-cylinder is smooth, but commands a premium price.

Ride & Handling: The Mazda 6 has grown a few inches in length, but the sporty nature is still there. The 6 grips really well, and the steering is light yet precise. The ride isn't as comfortable as you might expect, but it's far from uncomfortable.

Refinement: The 6 is a relaxed quiet cruiser. Refinement isn't class-leading, but it's far from cheap. You'll notice a bit of wind noise around the door mirrors, and there's some road noise over rough surfaces. The engines are both very smooth.

Behind the wheel: The 6's cabin feels sporty thanks to the circular air vents and splashes of metallic trim. The dash is user-friendly, although the heater controls are separated from the panel that display their settings. Forward visibility is good, and both the driver seat and steering wheel adjust for reach and height.

Space & Practicality: Front passengers will find the 6 is quite massive. Rear passengers will also feel the same way. There's plenty of head and leg room to go round. The boot also offers tons of space, and the rear seat folds down flat to offer even more space.

Equipment: The base trim comes well equipped. You'll get central locking, air-con, cruise control and traction control. Top of the range trims offer xenon headlamps, back-up camera, dual-zone climate control and blind spot monitoring system.

Buying & Owning: The 6 is priced well among its rivals. You get plenty of kit for the money, and your fuel bill will be low if you stick with the four-cylinder engine. Resale value is strong, and discounts is offered but not anything fantastic.

Quality & reliability: The interior feels like a mixed bag, some plastics look stylish and hardwearing. In some areas though, the plastics feel cheap to the touch. Reliability shouldn't be a worry, as Mazda's reliability record is spotless and the 6 has been rated high in its class.

Safety & Security: Six-airbags, traction control, and anti-lock brakes are all standard across the range. Deadlocks, engine immobiliser and a top-notch alarm make life difficult for thieves.

The Mazda 6 feels like a family car. The sporty dynamics are still there, but the appeal is more grown up. This isn't a bad thing however, the 6 has to compete with the likings of Honda and Toyota. Both offer cars that are popular in the the mid-sized family sedan segment. However, if you want a splash of sportiness, refinement and a more engaging drive. The Mazda 6 is the perfect car for you. It's low base price, large kit level and roomy interior volume makes it a car well worth every cent.