A friend commented upon hearing the news that I was about to swap my long-term Volkswagen Passat for our long-term Mazda6 that “the cars look good but the quality is poor inside”.
It neatly encapsulated the issue that many manufacturers have: tackling brand perceptions starts with the exterior style with interior improvements some way down the evolution trail.
The original Mazda6 started Mazda’s brand recovery in the UK when it was launched in 2002, particularly with fleets.
Launched on a cloud of zoom-zoom advertising, it was a decent car to drive and it looked great, but the interior ultimately undermined the experience with its cheap plastics, especially on the lower trim levels.
Image takes time to overcome and for all its talk of Skyactiv technology, low emissions and powerful performance, Mazda continues to be dogged by views that it trails the competition when it comes to interior look and feel.
Will the newest model change that? It’ll certainly help.
Quality has discernibly improved, switches and buttons are more tactile; in short, everything above knee level is sleek and very impressive.
However, the scratchy plastics persist on lower level sections around the footwell and along the sides of the middle console, which is disappointing, but perhaps not unusual for cars outside the premium sector.
One other comparison with the Passat. On my 12-mile commute to work, the Volkswagen was averaging 53-55mpg.
The Mazda has so far struggled to get above 49mpg.