A former Fleet News Award winner in the upper-medium sector, in 2.0-litre TS2 high power diesel trim the Mazda6 is the latest addition to our long-term fleet.
Having undergone a series of improvements last summer, the 6 still looks fresh, classy and is well-placed to continue winning the hearts and minds of fleet drivers.
Accolades heaped on the car since launch, certainly in these pages, include its sharp handling, performance and the quiet and refined engines.
With these still fresh in our mind, we greeted the updated model like a long lost friend.
Climb aboard and you’ll quickly find Mazda has addressed one criticism levelled at earlier versions of the car – that some of the fascia material was a bit plasticky. It’s been nicely tidied up with better quality materials and fabrics, while fit and finish is excellent.
The centre console looks classier in black, replacing the previous silver colour, and the dials now have chrome surrounds. Minor changes have been made to the door handles and seats.
Updates for the exterior are mild but the new grille, slight bumper reshaping and shallower clear glass headlights have brought the 6’s looks up to date.
Since arriving here, we’ve added more than 3,000 miles to the car and the engine is beginning to loosen up nicely with power aplenty and acceleration swift in most of the gears.
The six-speed manual gearbox is easy to use and the 2.0-litre diesel engine offers another 9bhp (up to 143bhp) over the previous model but there’s still some turbo lag as you pull away in a low gear, another criticism of the older version. Noise levels at higher speeds have also been improved in the new car.
The Mazda6 is a comfortable car to drive, with soft seating, a natural driving position and switches and controls in easy to reach places. It’s a vehicle company car drivers can climb out of after a couple of hours of driving and feel refreshed and ready for that all-important business meeting.
There’s also enough storage space and cubby holes to keep a fistful of petrol receipts and loose change safely out of the way and out of view.
And there’s a seatbelt warning system for each of the rear seats so, as the driver in control of the car, you can ensure all passengers are travelling in safety.
I recently had to carry two fairly bulky boxes in the rear of the car and the versatile Karakuri seating system made this a cinch. The seats folded flat in seconds at the touch of a button, transforming the rear of the car into a decent-sized load carrier.
The list of standard equipment is impressive on our top-spec model. It gets an electronic sunroof, a six-disc CD changer allied to a seven-speaker Bose stereo system, black sports cloth seat trim, electronic brake assist, traction stability control and dynamic stability control – a good mixture of features to boost safety and enjoyment.
During a couple of recent warm days it was a pleasure to be able to open a sunroof and allow some early summer air to waft around the cabin. Proof that climate control has not made the sunroof’s traditional role redundant.
Equipment and options
What we expect
THE Mazda6 is firmly established as a well-equipped family model – and pleasingly the new-look version won’t change that reputation, only improve it.
As a family/fleet car the 6 is perfect with ample boot space for luggage and enough room inside to transport passengers in comfort. For long journeys, this car will prove a boon with its high comfort levels, decent stereo system, frugal fuel economy and excellent road holding.
What the manufacturer says
‘OUR brand awareness in the corporate sector has been growing daily and much of that is due to the reception to the Mazda6. A combination of competitive prices, strong residuals, low operating costs and reliability has proved the car to be an enticing package for fleets. With the improvements in summer 2005 the new Mazda6 is proving even more popular in the fleet and user-chooser sectors.’
Adam Pumfrey, fleet and remarketing director, Mazda
Model: Mazda6 2.0d 143 TS2 5dr
Price (OTR): £18,250 (£18,575 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 165
Company car tax bill (2006) 22% tax-payer: £66 a month
Insurance group: 8
Combined mpg: 47.1
Test mpg: 41.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,575/31%
HSBC contract hire rate: £378
Expenditure to date: Nil