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New Mazda6 is redefining the family saloon

ALWAYS the bridesmaid . . . never the bride. It's the one cliche that has been synonymous with Mazda down through the years.

Almost every model in the Japanese car giant's line-up with the exception of the MX-5 have been phenomenal in their own right but never quite given the credit they were due.

Take the 3 which stands shoulder to shoulder with the Ford Focus for drive dynamic, yet not exactly on the hatchback radar.

Or the gargantuan 5 -- a 7-seat people carrier that's bigger, better and cheaper than pretty much all its rivals but again not one that immediately springs to mind.


The same can be said for the last generation 6, a truly magnificent saloon that should have been given the same plaudits as the Mondeo but never made it to the forefront.

Well all that's about to change with the launch of the all-new 6 which Mazda reckon will be "the new benchmark" in the large family car segment.

Available in hatchback saloon and Tourer the latest offering is meaner, leaner and a whole lot greener.

The meaner comes with the uber aggressive and masculine look which we first witnessed in the Takeri concept.

Based on the KODO -- Soul of Motion, a design themed on wild animals -- and it certainly looks like it could savage any rivals.

It'll even come with its own individual colours like Soul Red Metallic (pictured above), Blue Reflex Mica -- Meteor Grey Mica and Jet Black Mica.

And this beast is bigger, longer and wider than its older brother with shorter overhangs which in turn gives greater legroom both front and rear.

Inside the dash layout is clean and crisp and there is smatterings of luxury mixed with sport with soft leather steering complimented by little flashes of aluminium.

The build quality is top end and every button, switch and lever feels like it's been made individually and one could be even bold enough to say it's almost Audi-like.

And the magic doesn't end there because the real genius is hidden under the bonnet.

The new 6 is the second of the fleet to use Mazda's SkyActiv technology that returns "best-in-class" fuel economy alongside lower emissions.

The revolutionary 2.2 litre diesel engine is 50kg lighter than its predecessor and 20pc more efficient. Thanks to iStop and i-Eloop, Mazda's clever new regenerative braking system which stores kinetic energy for in car devices, it'll be run on a shoestring.

In layman's terms the 150bhp, 4-pot is now capable of returning an astounding 67 mpg while the CO2 count is an almost Hybrid-like 108g/km meaning annual road tax of just €200.

You can opt for the 6-speed auto box which also has one of the lowest emissions at 127g/km.

Now if that isn't enough to sway you then the drive, ride and handling will.

A much stiffer chassis and body coupled with tauter suspension and steering practically eliminates bodyroll.

There is more than enough grunt from the punchy diesel unit which is so refined that at times the you have to check the rev counter to see is she still ticking over.

It's not short on goodies either and the generous bundle of standard kit includes Bluetooth, 17 inch alloys, cruise control, climate control, front and rear parking sensors, a 5.8 inch touchscreen multimedia system and Smart City Brake (activates brakes at lower speeds automatically to avoid rear-ending).

In showrooms now, prices start from €28,745, with the Diesel Sport from €31,795.