Despite their obvious similarities, the Mazda 6 Tourer has a very different personality to that of the Volkswagen Passat Estate. While the VW is anonymous but thoroughly competent, the Mazda makes a more immediate impression but doesn’t tick quite so many boxes.
Beneath the distinctive looks is a very fine tow car. Up to the legal limit the 6 hardly seemed affected by crosswinds, but when pushing up to 70mph it began to move around more than the VW. In the lane-change test, too, the Mazda puts most cars in the shade, but it isn’t as assured as the Volkswagen, with bigger steering inputs needed from the driver to pull the caravan straight again when swerving aggressively.
Mazda drivers have a conventional handbrake rather than the electronic parking brake fitted to the Passat, and it needs to be pulled on firmly to be sure the outfit won’t roll backwards. But with such a strong engine, tackling the slope in first gear is easy enough, although the clutch tended to smell a bit in reverse.
Whether towing or driving solo, the 6 has a firmer ride than the Passat, and it’s not as quiet at speed.
Our practicality testers were happy with the Tourer’s 506-litre boot, but less impressed by the poorly installed towing socket.
The list price is very keen for such a large, well-equipped car, and running costs should be , thanks to official combined economy of 64.2mpg.