Perhaps it’s time we ditched the SUVs in favour of the maligned estate car writes Geraldine Herbert
What is it? For many the attraction of an estate car is lost, it’s not a purchase that appeals to the senses but one that placates the need for space, an assortment of hooks and flat-pack furniture. It should come as no surprise that car makers go to increasing lengths to disguise their load luggers, calling them ‘Avants’, ‘Tourers’ or ‘Sportswagons’. It seems the term “estate car” conjures about as much excitement as phrases such as “insurance policies” and “pension plans”.
But while saloon cars may have gone out of fashion some years ago with the onslaught of large 4x4s, compact SUVs and crossovers, is it not time to rethink the much-maligned estate car? Arriving in Ireland this month, Mazda’s revamped 6 Tourer has all the panache of a sports car and practicality of an SUV.
First impressions of the new Mazda6? Sporting a redesigned 3D signature grille and a sleeker profile, it’s a heady mix of taut lines and sharp creases.
What about the interior? And the makeover isn’t only skin deep, as this refreshed version boasts a more modern cabin and feels much less cluttered. The increased use of leather along with upgraded materials throughout give a more premium feel. Drivers can now enjoy upgraded seats that come with soothing ventilation designed to reduce fatigue and stress. Other new additions include the introduction of a larger eight-inch centre display screen, a heads-up display and a 360° parking view.
As you would expect from an estate, there is a vast load bay that expands from 522-litres with the rear seats in place to a cavernous 1,664-litres with the split rear seats folded flat. The seats fold in a 60:40 split into a flexible flat cargo area by simply using either the levers located on each side of the boot or the standard release buttons on the seatbacks themselves.
Under the bonnet? There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines on offer; the most efficient is the 2.2 Skyactiv Diesel 150ps manual which despite the overall vroom appeal does a wallet-soothing 4.4 litres per 100km. Other engine options include a 184ps diesel and a 2.0-litre petrol with 145ps or 165ps and all are available in either manual or automatic transmissions.
And on the road? Drive the Mazda6 for a day or two, and you’ll be slow to give it back. The 150ps manual estate diesel that I tested on a scenic route in Mallorca is smooth and comfortable. The revised steering and suspension only enhance the driving dynamics.
Unless you are familiar with the older model, you will struggle to see much difference on the road, but for a car that had little wrong with it in the first place, the improvements are subtle but welcome. It’s also much quieter thanks to new vibration-absorbing material that has been added to the centre tunnel and the roof lining.
Will it break the bank? Prices for the new Mazda6 Tourer start from €33,545, with three spec levels; Executive SE, Platinum and Platinum+. The Saloon version starts from €31,945. All models come with 17in alloys, LED headlights/rear combi lamps, high beam control, radar cruise control, intelligent speed assist, advanced smart city brake support, pedestrian AEB, blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist system (LAS), navi set w/ TSR and USB socket for rear-seat occupants
How Safe? All models come with a host of standard active safety equipment across the range, including Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Projected Active Driving Display with integrated Satellite Navigation, Adaptive LED Headlights and Blind Spot Monitoring.
Why this car? In short, the changes may be subtle, but the new 6 is an improvement on its predecessor and a more interesting option than many of the cars in its class. Few offer the same combination of virtues, driving dynamics, practicality and style with good fuel efficiency. And with premium packaging at mainstream pricing, Mazda’s new load lugger deserves to tempt buyers away from their SUVs.
2nd August, 2018