It’s no small task replacing what was, in the company’s own words, “Mazda’s big comeback in Europe”, but the inevitable had to be done and the Japanese brand is now building up to the arrival of the new 6 early next year.


It’s again available in saloon, hatchback and estate bodystyles, but it will be the hatchback that’s overwhelmingly dominant in the UK with a choice of five trim levels and initially four engines.

Despite the new car being 65mm longer than the outgoing 6, it’s up to 35kg lighter, while elements such as the better quality interior, big boot – finally with an external boot release button – and massive amounts of rear passenger space impress.

Engineers have also developed the most logical alternative yet to BMW‘s iDrive. Called CF Net, basic climate, audio and trip computer functions can be controlled via logical steering wheel-mounted buttons. Mazda claims it cuts the amount of time the driver’s attention is focussed away from the road by 20-30%.

The driving position is comfortable, as are the seats, and the gearchange is good. The steering is light but provides just enough feel, while the refinement is a step up from the old model. The diesel, far and away the most popular business version, wasn’t available for a brief drive on a test track, so we instead tried the 147PS 2.0-litre petrol, which feels refined and competent, if not particularly thrusting. Fuel economy is, though, 10% better. We’ll reserve judgment on ride until we get a car in the UK.

We could also only drive the saloon, which is probably the pick of the range in terms of looks, but UK buyers will prefer the small dose of extra practicality of the five-door.

First impressions are pretty positive for the Mondeo-rivalling new 6. Mazda reckons it will be able to maintain volumes of what is its biggest selling model at the level of the current 6 despite the segment shrinking slightly, and the diesel in particular will find favour on financial grounds thanks to the drop of an impressive six benefit-in-kind bands.

The final verdict will wait until early next year when we can drive a diesel five-door, by which time the pricing and whole-life costs will also be available to give the complete picture against some highly-competent rivals. Mazda is bullish about residuals after the current car actually went up in the past 18 months despite its age, and if the figures are right, the new 6 could be a tempting package.