Fleet News

Mazda6 2.3 Sport - 14,480 miles



I WAS expecting great things from the Mazda6 thanks in no small part to the wallpaper-like roll of recommendations that have been awarded to it by my fellow Fleet News scribblers.

They have applauded the looks, the drive, the equipment list and, darn it, even the stereo system manufacturer has had a name check. And to top it all the Fleet News Awards judges awarded the 6 the Upper Medium Car of the Year accolade earlier this year.

For starters, I am unable to fault the vehicle on its looks to begin with.

Even from an eye-squinting distance across our office car park, the body of the car is striking, lying squat on its 17-inch alloys and low profile tyres. Out of its 'Sport' clothing it will stand out in the corporate car park, well and truly committing the memory of the staid 626 to the shredder.

Inside I find the seats comfortable though not on a par with the Toyota Avensis that I've most recently been driving. Those in the Mazda6 are a little hard and unforgiving, even with adjustments. The fascia is smart and well laid out but the steering wheel and stalks are a tad disappointing in quality terms. Alongside a fresh-looking centre console, they seem like throwbacks from an earlier model range. The Vectra and Mondeo's are of better design and use higher quality materials.

The 16-valve 2,261cc engine delivers the goods and has a really satisfying sound as you accelerate to 62mph in just nine seconds, while not losing any of its refined road manners.

Push it beyond that, however, and things are a little less than perfect. Reach the maximum motorway speed in fifth and with revs at 3,200, you're left wanting somewhere else to go – ideally a sixth gear to bring the engine back to a sense of calm. Without it, the motor seemed to be straining. I've briefly driven the new Vauxhall Vectra 2.0-litre turbo with a six-speed gearbox, which offers all the performance but without the bump and grind of the Mazda6.

Your preference depends on how engaging you want the driving experience to be. If I was a high mileage driver I'd opt for the Vectra, but first thing in the morning I'd like to walk out my front door and see the Mazda on my drive.

I can also vouch for the Mazda6's braking performance, having had to slam them on the other day in an emergency.

The Highway Code says the stopping distance at 30mph, including the thinking distance and reaction time, is 23 metres (75 feet). With the ABS grinding away, I stopped well within this distance. Driver shaken, car not stirred. And I've obviously not been alone in testing the car's performance. With just over 14,000 miles on the clock, we've had to replace two front Bridgestone Potenza tyres, which cost £127.63 each.

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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