Mazda’s latest estate car is indeed a thing of beauty, finds Charlie Flindt. However, what pleased the eye proved to be less appealing to the ear...
Charlie Flindt finds himself impressed by the Mazda 6 Tourer, even recreating some of the thrills of the MX-5. But what is pleasing to the eye turned out to be less appealing to the ear…
For more on Mazda, read Charlie Flindt’s review of the Mazda CX-3 – a gun compact crossover.
MAZDA 6 TOURER
“Just remember,” said the nice man delivering my Mazda 6 Tourer for the week, “it’s a petrol.” At the time, I assumed he was just trying to help us avoid the ignominy of filling up with the wrong fuel.
But before getting out and about in it, I was far more interested in how lovely the 6 Tourer is. As is now traditional, the Mazda press release is full of weapons-grade drivel about drawing inspiration from 12th-century Japanese philosophies but the end result is a treat for the eye.
Mind you, it looks low and swooping compared with many estate cars, and that is no trick of the eye – it is relatively low to the ground. Fat farmers like me will not leap in and out of it with ease. But once inside, Mazda quality shines through. The seats are lovely and the whole interior feels well put together.
Then there is the dashboard, which immediately shot to the top of my ‘favourite dashboard’ chart, relegating the Hyundai i20’s to number two. At first it seems cluttered but in use is informative and crystal clear with a matching head-up display that is equally effective.
All was going well until I pressed the ‘start’ button, at which point I had a horrible flashback. A couple of winters ago, Mr and Mrs Rat moved into our tractor barn over Christmas; more specifically, they moved under the bonnet of my tractor. They chewed the radiator cowling to the point that when I finally restarted the tractor in the New Year, the fan connected with the plastic cowling and the din of cold diesel engine starting and fan blades meeting loose plastic was deafening. The Mazda’s engine wasn’t dissimilar.
Was it really a petrol? The numbers on the rev counter said yes, the delivery man had said yes but a silent idle it certainly wasn’t. If you’d refuelled by ear, you’d certainly have reached for the heavy oil. His words of advice made sense.
At low speeds, the gearbox doesn’t seem to know what to make of the engine either, apparently being in constant disagreement about which gear to be in. It is only once you have picked up speed that the 6 Tourer’s dynamic charms match its static beauty. It is an effortless motorway cruiser – once you’ve disabled the over-zealous lane-wandering warning system. But my favourite 6 Tourer moment came when I was blessed with a deserted A40 late one autumn evening. As I wound from Herefordshire into Gloucestershire, it was easy to forgive the low-speed clattering and the dithering auto.
I switched to manual paddle change, put ‘bend prediction’ up on the head-up display, and could easily have been back in our beloved but recently sold MX-5 – Mazda does seem to have built a little bit of that legendary roadster’s DNA into its flagship estate car.
So if we were looking to recreate that MX-5 thrill, the 6 Tourer could do the job – but I would probably choose the conventional manual box and a diesel, to keep the noise down. And there is a phrase I thought I’d never write.
MAZDA 6 TOURER 2.5 194PS GT SPORT
♦ Engine: 2,488 petrol
♦ Power: 194PS
♦ Max speed: 139mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 8.1 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 41.5mpg
♦ Insurance group: 29A
♦ Price: £31,695