Test Mazda 6 Wagon – 2.5 Skyactiv-G Revolution Top

When you drive a Mazda, you are never alone. Car and driver in perfect harmony. Like a horse rider – something we call “Jinba Ittai.” We believe that when unity is achieved, driving becomes fun. We do this in our own way, because our cars are so much more than just getting from point A to point B. Beauty by subtraction. A pure, intuitive relationship creates a bond that can’t be put into words. Together, we are stronger. We never drive alone. We ride together.”

This quote is taken from Mazda’s official website. Let’s test whether these statements are at least partly based on truth. Today we take the Mazda 6 in Revolution Top trim and with a 2.5 litre petrol engine for a test drive.Currently, this is the most powerful powertrain available in the Mazda 6. With the next facelift in the summer of 2018, Mazda will also begin offering a turbocharged version of this engine, which is based on the engine that comes standard in the CX-9 overseas. Its exact specifications are not known at this time.

The question remains whether the Mazda 6 will be available with this engine in Europe. The facelift will also include changes to the front and rear of the car, a redesigned dashboard, instrument cluster, new trim elements, a new 2.5 atmospheric petrol engine with two-cylinder low-load cut-off from the CX-5, etc.

But let’s get back to the test car. The Revolution Top is the top trim, which can be upgraded to white leather only (black is standard), sunroof, navigation and metallic paint. We got the estate model with navigation, white leather and “premium” grey Machine Grey metallic paint. The price for this model, including extras, is an affordable €34,775 according to the official price list.

The Mazda 6 of this model range has been on the market since 2012 and has undergone two facelifts so far. The first, in 2015, was a radical change to the interior, the second, in 2017, was more of a technical change and fine-tuning of details.

Exterior

Despite the relatively long sales period of this model, it has still lost none of its appeal and I dare say it is one of the most beautiful station wagons in current production. It requires inhereas well as the fitment of 19″ wheels, which is the current trend with many car brands.. By the way, the supplied darkgrey matt19″ wheels look gorgeous. However, we have the Mazda shod on 17″ wheels with Continental winter tyres, which takes a bit of the beauty out of the car.

The latest facelift hasn’t changed anything on the exterior, the six still has a long front bonnet, narrow headlights, a distinctive grille, small fog lamps, a few chrome additions on the front grille, around the windows and at the rear. The grey colour suits the car extremely well and gives it a subtly luxurious touch. At the same time, it is impractical as it can get dirty quite quickly and requires frequent washing.

Design is always a subjective matter and a car is either liked or not. The shapes of Mazda’s new models are overwhelmingly met with positive reactions, and this is of course reflected in the globally rising sales trend of each model.

Interior

The Mazda 6 wagon represents the spatial average of the middle class. The car is wide enough and provides very comfortable conditions for four passengers. Paradoxically, due to its longer wheelbase, the sedan offers more knee room in the rear seats, but naturally less headroom for rear passengers.

The test piece, with its white optional leather, evokes a sense of luxury, and the colour contrast with the black plastics looks interesting. On the other hand, white leather is impractical and requires extra care. The seats are firmer, with average seat cushion length and decent lateral support. Overall, they are comfortable and provide good back support even on longer journeys. The passenger seat lacks an adjustable lumbar support and has fewer power seat adjustment options. I would have liked the ability to adjust the seats to a lower position. With a driver over 190 cm tall, the head will already be touching the roof upholstery.

The instrument cluster is subtly changed after the latest facelift and includes a colour display showing on-board computer data such as average and instantaneous consumption, range, compass, coolant temperature, safety assistant data and alerts, etc. Switching between the different data is done via a button on the steering wheel. Someone might find it annoying to set a list of data and not be able to change it. For example, it is not possible to achieve simultaneous display of coolant temperature and instantaneous consumption.

The center console is fairly wide but offers a padded right driver’s footrest. The dashboard consists of controls for climate control, front seat heating and steering wheel with the now slowly “obsolete” conventional buttons and circular dials, which in my opinion is still a more acceptable solution than controlling these functions with a touchscreen, at least from a safety perspective.

Infotainment hasn’t changed since the last Mazda 3 was launched in 2013. It already has rather outdated graphics, isn’t the fastest and doesn’t quite have the widespread Android Auto and Apple Car support anymore. Mazda is promising it for 2018. The controls are intuitive and offer the option of a rotary controller between the seats as well as a touchscreen when the car is stopped. I didn’t have a major issue with the navigation, but I would have liked the ability to adjust the volume specifically for voice guidance and alerts (e.g., for the presence of speed cameras and traffic changes). Mazda also offers the ability to get detailed traffic information from the Here maps source using a mobile phone hotspot. This service is not yet available in Slovakia. Updates to the maps are free for 3 years from the purchase of the vehicle and take place twice a year.

The space between the seats is filled with an infotainment rotary controller with speed dial buttons, an electronic handbrake with the missing Auto Hold function and an automatic transmission mode selector. The armrest is positioned quite far back and will not be used by shorter people.

The load compartments are a decent average, the box in front of the passenger is padded but not air-conditioned. The space under the armrest is roomy enough, and the space for glasses or bottles can be covered by a tasteful sliding shutter. The space in front of the automatic gear selector also serves a larger mobile phone. 2 USB inputs, 2 power sockets are now standard.

Another power outlet is in the boot, which averages 522 litres (1648 litres with the rear seats folded down) but has a regular shape, a double bottom and an interestingly designed grille that’s anchored to the fifth door. The levers used to fold down the rear seats are located on the sides of the boot. Two plastic hooks and four metal eyelets are the only options for securing luggage. Other manufacturers provide more options.

Riding, consumption

Let’s ride. After starting up, the idle speed stays quite high for a while, which is characteristic of Skyactiv engines. Once in D, the revs drop to normal levels immediately. The first three gears are short and give the car a distinctive dynamic character, which must be taken into account especially when starting off sharply in town. The next gears are already longer, which helps to achieve low consumption at higher speeds. At 130 highway, the crankshaft turns 2,500 times per minute.

The engine has a displacement of 2488cc, power of 141kW at 5700rpm, torque of 256Nm at 3250rpm and a high compression ratio of 13:1. For an atmospheric engine, it is flexible from low revs, but from 4,000 onwards it can fully reveal its volume and power. The very pleasing linear power gradation up to red field revs, coupled with a coarser and, more importantly, natural sounding engine can be addictive. The engine is exemplarily quiet and vibration-free at low revs. The 6-speed automatic keeps the revs quite low in normal mode, around 1200 rpm depending on the speed. Despite this, it doesn’t protest, it doesn’t rumble or vibrate, so basically it doesn’t matter. What can be a hindrance is that in the event of a sudden need for power, it takes a while for the gearbox to engage, the revs to pick up and the car to accelerate. This problem is eliminated by activating the sport mode, which keeps the revs at a higher level and the response of the engine and gearbox is lightning fast. For this reason, I would like to see the ability to activate sport mode in a more accessible location (e.g. on the steering wheel).

The steering wheel is the right size, but I would have appreciated a slightly thicker rim. The power steering is set compromisingly to a bit too tight, you can feel hints of feedback from the front wheels when driving, which is almost the exception nowadays.

The in-house automatic transmission shifts almost imperceptibly and with feeling. Under gentle acceleration when shifting into second gear, it sometimes waits unnecessarily to upshift, but that’s about the only criticism I’d have of it. It responds reasonably quickly when the throttle is added more sharply, using the revs to their maximum near red field. The gearbox can sense what you want from it by the pressure on the accelerator pedal, adapts the logic of the gear shifting accordingly, and doesn’t try to keep consumption low at all costs. When shifting with the paddles under the steering wheel, the transmission holds the gear for a moment before returning to automatic mode.

When shifting into manual mode, it serves to the transmission’s credit that even if the engine is sparingly revved into the red, it doesn’t immediately shift itself, but instead hits the limiter as standard, as with a manual gearbox.

The Mazda 6’s driving characteristics have been discussed in numerous tests and overwhelmingly rated highly positive. When the steering wheel is turned sharply, the Mazda leans noticeably on the outside front wheel and turns in the desired direction. If you overdo it with speed, the incoming understeer will make itself known very early and the driver has plenty of time to react. Gently easing off the throttle can return the car to the desired direction without the aid of the stabilisation system. This generally does not intervene too early and gives the driver the opportunity to have fun with the car safely. As in one of the few mid-range cars, it can be switched off completely.

When changing direction more abruptly at lower speeds, care should be taken when shifting up a gear (as mentioned above), which does not allow cornering under throttle. In this case, the engine should be assisted by manually downshifting before entering the turn.

The chassis is pleasingly stiff, the car doesn’t roll too much, but it’s also comfortable on 19″ wheels. No unpleasant shocks are transmitted to the car when driving on poor-quality pavement, the chassis stiffness is felt only on broken asphalt full of transverse irregularities.

The test route ran from Bratislava to Vienna and back. The route to Vienna is along the old B9 road through the town of Hainburg to the village of Fischamend, then along the A4 motorway, the S1 expressway. I took the entire route to Bratislava along the motorway. Keeping within the speed limits + 10%, I achieved a consumption of 7.1 l/100 on the Bratislava-Vienna route and 7.5 l/100 on the way back. The traffic was reasonable for a normal working day, to which I adapted my driving style without aiming for low consumption.

Equipment

The tested vehicle pampers passengers with full equipment and a host of driving assistants. I won’t name all the equipment features, I’ll just focus on the ones that caught my eye or that I have comments on.

I’ll be the first to mention the head-up display, which doesn’t project data onto the windscreen but onto an auxiliary plastic glass. It has pleasing graphics and displays all the necessary information in the driver’s field of vision such as speed, adaptive cruise control data, navigation instructions, speed limit supported by the ability to read traffic signs.

The steering wheel heating can be felt after half a minute after turning it on on its sides, after starting the car in the morning I was happy to use it together with the seat heating, which takes a little longer to warm up.

Adaptive cruise control works from 30 km/h, I’ve used it pretty much everywhere except in the city and haven’t encountered a single problem. The only downside is already the absence of the convoy assist, which causes the cruise control to disengage when slowing down below 30 km/h. The driver is informed of this by a notification on the head-up display.

The lane keeping assist works below average and only responds correctly to the first approach to a line on the road.

The blind-spot monitoring system performs exemplarily with a minimum of false alerts.

The rear camera is unfortunately placed and tends to get dirty quickly.

LED lights with oncoming car shielding system work smoothly, but are not among the most advanced also due to the small number of LED segments (4 in one headlight).

What I have to highlight is the finally satisfactory interior sound insulation from aerodynamic noise, which was lacking in versions before the last facelift.

Maintenance

Maintenance is performed every 20,000 km or once a year. Prices at authorised garages range between €200 – €350 depending on the location of the service (Bratislava is naturally the most expensive) and the number of items checked and/or operating fluid fillings changed.

Verdikt

The Mazda 6 is not one of the best-selling mid-size cars, mainly due to poor fleet sales support from the importer, a lingering distrust of Japanese brands and the inability to configure individual trim items. The service network within Slovakia is relatively poor, which also does not help sales figures.

Netheless, this is a car that deserves attention. The manufacturer is constantly trying to improve this model and eliminate its shortcomings. Its prices are among the best compared to similar models of competing brands, especially in the higher trims. Reliability is globally above average, especially with atmospheric petrol engines.

Design, drivability, innovation and atypical motoring make the Mazda 6 a top performer in the non-premium mid-size class. Anyone interested in a mid-range family estate with a relatively powerful petrol engine should definitely not miss it out.