JAPANESE car maker Mazda has earned a well deserved reputation for being one of the most adventurous manufacturers in the world and their products in the past have included quality niche models and sporting cars powered by rotary engines writes Bryan Longworth.
They were also closely linked with Ford in the recent past but that relationship has ended and Mazda now concentrates on producing top quality conventional cars that can take on premium competitors from Germany and elsewhere.
Which brings me to the Mazda6 Tourer that has just had a refresh and which is one of the best looking estate cars in this market sector that includes top quality load carriers such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
The upgrade featured improved standard equipment, improved interior including new instrument panel and centre console plus on top models a re-styled front with new grille and signature wing design incorporating powerful LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights.
On test was the Mazda6 2.2D SE-L Nav Auto Tourer which at £25,995 sits around midway in the Tourer range and is a very well equipped estate with satellite navigation included and it is one of the first Mazda cars to have an electronic parking brake which I used to dislike on test cars but now prefer them to manual parking brakes.
The car was powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine driving the front wheels through an automatic six speed gearbox which produced a top speed of 126mph a zero to 62mph time of 10 seconds and combined 57.6mpg - the trip computer showed the test car averaged around 10mpg less than this laboratory produced figure.
This Mazda motor has been criticised for having a rather firm suspension system but I did not find this to be a problem compared to some similar cars and I liked both the handling and steering which made this such an enjoyable car to travel in especially on demanding roads in the Peak District.
What I really liked about the Tourer was the elegant styling which is a very strong feature in the latest range of Mazda cars and in my view it has bigger showroom appeal than the German rivals in particular apart from the badges.
It also benefits from the much acclaimed Mazda SKYACTIV technology which helps to make it more efficient and the large rear load area swallows up luggage and shopping with more space available when the easy to fold rear seats are flattened to create more load space.
The new instrument panel is very user friendly and easily passed my speedometer visibility check plus the seven inch full colour centre console touch screen incorporating Mazda’s first DAB radio and MZD Connect making it easier for internet connectivity and access to social networking services - I was also reminded of BMW cars with some of the controls.
I was disappointed to see there is no spare wheel under the load area floor which has been replaced with a puncture repair kit that I have never liked since unsuccessfully having to use one when getting a puncture while travelling abroad and it failed miserably to solve the problem.
However, the Mazda6 Tourer is a quality car with impressive styling handling and performance that combine to make it a major contender in this market sector being a perfect example of the latest breed of cars from the Far Eastern manufacturer that are now successfully competing against premium competitors.
Model: Mazda6 2.2D SE-L Nav Auto Tourer.
Engine: 2.2-litre four cylinder diesel.
Output: 150ps @ 4500rpm.
Transmission: Six speed automatic.
Top speed: 126mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 57.6 combined.
CO2 emissions: 129g/km.
Price: £25,995 on the road.