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Road test: Mazda6

By Roger St. Pierre with Hazel Kempster

The Mazda6 been around since 2002 but continual upgrading has ensured this Japanese winner has kept pace with the likes of the Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Mondeo, Toyota Avensis, Vauxhall Insignia and VW Passat.

Now in its third generation, this thoroughly well sorted family car – available in saloon and estate formats – has neat, clean lines and a affords a choice between SE, SE-L and Sport Nav trim levels and 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel powerplants.

It’s not a sports car, as such, but certainly has a sporting feel, with lots of grip, a well-modulated ride and crisp handling.

The Mazda6’s G-Vectoring system is a clever piece of kit that provides more stable handling by adjusting torque delivery as steering angle changes.

The £27,845 Sky-Activ-D 150 oil burner we tested exhibited lots of get up and go, sprinting from 0 to 62-mph in a brisk 9.1 seconds, with a 130-mph top speed potential on tap.

Even more potent is the D 175 version, with figures of 7.9 seconds 0-62 and 139-mph.

As well as a slick short-throw six-speed manual gearbox, Mazda can offer a six-speed auto box. Both setups are commendably smooth in operation.

Driven sensibly, SkyActiv engines offer low emissions and impressive fuel consumption figures, with close on 70-mpg attainable if you resist the ever-present temptation to put your foot down.

The main improvement over previous models is a totally re-worked cockpit with clearer instrumentation, slicker controls and more of a premium feel.

Useful kit on our test car included LED headlights, electric leather seats, a heated steering wheel, radar cruise control and a pop-up sat/nav system.

As is the trend for family saloons these days, the Mazda6 is quite a big car and it offers generous leg and headroom plus a usefully sized boot.

Naturally, the Tourer version is even more capacious, providing 480-litres of baggage space.

It is, then, a thoroughly sensible car for family needs but it manages to provide some enervating driving experiences once the jams are left behind and the road opens out.

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