Fleet News

Mazda6 2.0d TS2 estate - 7,450 miles

Mazda

Review

I HAVE always admired the looks of the Mazda6, so the chance to sample our long- term 2.0d TS2 was one not to be missed – particularly as ours is the estate which, with a young family, would have been my first choice anyway if I was choosing a company car.

There's been plenty said about Mazda's 'Karakuri' rear seat folding mechanism but I had never tried it, so to witness it first-hand was another new experience.

Just one lever is all that is required to fold the seat down – ingenious and so beautifully simple you wonder why no-one else has thought of it. With children's buggies and other gear to consider, this is a real convenience.

The Mazda6 has taken a raft of awards since it was introduced, not least the Fleet News Upper-Medium Car of the Year Award in 2003, and only a short stint behind the wheel is enough to demonstrate some of the reasons for this.

The handling was crisp, entertaining and thoroughly engaging on my favourite cross-country road, yet the ride quality and overall comfort belie the fact this is a genuinely sporting drive.

Standard specification is also generous and includes a superb Bose sound system with in-dash six CD changer, alloy wheels, remote central locking and electric windows all-round.

Mazda does not have much of a track record in diesel so I had reservations about the quality of the unit in the Mazda6 – particularly as diesel is hardly relevant in Japan where the car is built.

But on paper the credentials look good: common rail direct injection and a healthy output of 134bhp with combined fuel consumption of 44.1mpg is highly respectable – and saloon and hatch models are Euro IV-compliant, though for some reason the estate is still Euro III and therefore subject to the 3% benefit-in-kind tax penalty.

On the road, it translates into brisk performance to say the least. But it's the torque figure that really impresses: 228lb-ft from just 2,000rpm means there's plenty of go available in any gear, which makes for relaxed driving and a startling turn of speed. In particular, the massively flexible third gear gives genuinely surprising overtaking capability.

If I have a criticism, it's that the engine displays quite marked turbo lag, which can catch you out from low revs – for example when entering a roundabout in second gear.

And though the engine is refined and smooth – so much so that colleagues on Fleet News have mistaken it for a petrol unit – road noise is disappointing, especially from the rear wheels.

Criticisms though these are, they don't change the fact that the Mazda6 fully deserves its awards. A car that is as practical and well-equipped as this, that drives and performs as well as this, is worthy of serious consideration.

Company car tax bill 2004/05 (40% tax-payer): £147 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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