Fleet News

Mazda6 TS2 estate - 9,065 miles



HERR roadtestmeister Simon Harris, reichmarshal of the fleet, has finally ordered me out of the Audi A4 Avant and has deposited me in the Mazda6 estate which, it has to be said, feels like a poor man's version of the A4, which I suppose it is.

But for six grand less money (the Audi we have is more than £27,000), you do get a lot more car. At first glance, you'd agree that it is the sat-nav, electric seats and multi-function controls that mean the Mazda is a lot more car for the money, but I soon learned that physically, you get a lot more car too.

To explain, I need to go back to December when I bought my girlfriend a bike for Christmas. For reasons too long and boring to go into, it was bought in Wiltshire and needed to be transported back home to Lincolnshire after the festive period.

It's a very nice old-fashioned sit-up-and-beg type with a big wicker basket and a bell, but I would have had to hacksaw the handlebars off to get it in the back of the Audi. It wasn't even close. And chopping up a prized Christmas present is not recommended for a quiet life.

However, recently we returned to the leafy shire with the 6, and the bike slotted triumphantly home with plenty of room to spare. I even had to wedge it to ensure it didn't move about. The 6 has loads of space and the rear seats fold down cunningly flat, making this a good choice if you need to lug a lot of stuff about.

Other than that, the rest of the car is what you would expect of a 6. The steering is direct, although the sharp handling is slightly blunted by the extra weight at the back and there is plenty of kit for the price, as with all Mazdas.

I am slowly getting over being evicted from the Audi as a result. But just as I am getting used to it, the 6 is going back to be replaced by a 3.

Leafing back through the test reports on this car, it will be missed. Paul Clark, another refugee from the Audi stable at the time, only had criticism for the turbo lag on the diesel engine and he joined plenty of other testers who had remarked how quiet and refined it was.

I can't say I agree. Although it has real 'shove' in any gear, I was surprised at how noisy it had got and there was quite a lot of vibration through the steering wheel at tickover, even when the engine had warmed up. I'm coming to the conclusion with diesel engine noise and vibration that what is harsh and what is not is extremely subjective, depending on the driver.

That's about all there is to nitpick about for the Mazda6. The estate illustrates just why it won the upper medium category at last year's Fleet News Awards and it has sailed through six months with us.

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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