Thursday 23 November 2017

Mazda, your 6 is on fire, but the timing could be better

Timing is everything in this world, they say. In life, in sport . . . even in motoring. Mine is usually appalling. I say the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'll let you in on a secret, I've just put my foot in it with someone and spent the afternoon making it worse.

And I will probably be accused of doing the same thing this week when I say Mazda's timing (through no fault of its own) is not good either.

The new 6 large family motor is easily the best saloon Mazda has made. I've no problem saying that. But as luck would have it, just as things are looking up for the 6, the market is looking in the opposite direction. To put it bluntly, the timing couldn't be much worse.

To put it even more bluntly, it is also a bad time to be talking about taking the car upmarket to tempt buyers/ wannabes of the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series – and calling it 'semi-premium' and charging more than your old rivals.

In good times you'd take much of that in your stride. In bad times . . . well, it needs to be something special.

And in many ways the 6 is as good as there is out there right now.

It is the sort of car you feel you deserve – but you wonder if you can afford it. And, let's be honest, you ask if maybe you should go for a Ford or Toyota or Volkswagen.

This, however, has the looks to go with 'semi-premium'. I don't think anyone will disagree with that. It's really impressive in the car park, or on the road. And there's a well-designed and roomy cabin with plenty of equipment. The fabrics, plastics, fit-and-finish are a huge step up on the previous one, while the boot is large and spacious.

The engine has what it takes, too – a powerhouse 2.2-litre diesel that costs you €190 in road tax.

And then there is all the hidden technology for safety, handling and comfort.

All in all, a grand car in the true sense of the word and one in which I covered a lot of different roads – the suspension is a decent mix of supple and sporty.

I really liked the engine. Not too many competitors will have 150bhp on tap. Sometimes motoring can be a bit of fun, too, and letting those horses strain at the leash a little made my journeys a lot more enjoyable.

The level of equipment does put the price a bit more in perspective when you consider you don't need to go up the range to get decent spec. That is often the case with cars these days – 'entry-level' prices can mask poor spec levels.

In the case of the Mazda 6, you most certainly do not need the Sport SE version I had on test. At €35,895 it is far too expensive. Stick with the Sport model. At €31,795 it's still a bit pricey, but just about okay.

Traditionally, Mazda has been bought mostly by families whereas its main rivals, such as the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat, Toyota Avensis, Peugeot 508 etc do a lot of volume fleet business as well.

I'd say it would take some of that action now if they got it.

The 6 lacks the prestige of the Passat and, despite a fine chassis, the exceptional sharp handling of the Mondeo (even though there's a new one late this year/early next). But as a package it is up there with the best.

That's easy for me to say (perfect timing again) but will enough of you care or bother?

There is a trend in this particular segment of the market that you get one year (max) to make your big, big impact. This is Mazda's time. I think it deserves a really good test drive at least. In no time there will be another new kid on the block to take the limelight.

Same old story isn't it? Timing, timing, timing.

Irish Independent

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