Mazda has facelifted the 6 since we last tested it, with revised styling for top-spec Sport Nav models, improved interior quality and revised suspension settings for a smoother ride. The changes have allowed the 6 to keep newer rivals in sight, but the petrol model tested here could do with more pulling power.
In isolation the 2.0-litre engine performs well enough, but it suffers in comparison with the excellent 1.5-litre turbo in the new Ford Mondeo. It has less torque (155lb ft rather than 177lb ft) and crucially it’s delivered much higher up the rev range. In other words, if you want to get a move on when towing, you have to ring the engine’s neck.
Foot to the floor, the Mazda 6 pulls from 30-60mph in 17.6 seconds, some 4.5 seconds slower than the Ford Mondeo. The shortage of low-down pull is noticeable when performing a hill start as well. The electronic parking brake (a feature added to the facelifted car) holds car and caravan still and releases smoothly, but a lot of clutch slip is needed to pull to the top of the 1-in-6 slope.
The 6 doesn’t quite match the Mondeo for high speed stability, either. In still air it feels solid, but in windier conditions we noticed a little more movement. And in the lane-change test the caravan slid around dramatically, although the 6 always pulled it back into line.
In everyday driving, the revised suspension has made the 6 more comfortable, but it doesn’t ride as well as the Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat.
It is good value, though. The Sport Nav is the highest level of specification, and your money buys a long list of toys, as well as plenty of safety aids.