By Mike Torpey on 2017-03-12 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Mazda6 2.2d Sport
THE shift towards SUVs and crossover models may show no sign of hitting the skids - but when the chips are down you can't beat the space and carrying capacity of a traditional estate.
What were once worthy but pretty shapeless boxes on wheels are now among the sharpest looking versions of the popular models.
None more so than the Mazda6, a car that struts its stuff confidently as a saloon but really comes into its own as an estate, or in Mazda's case a Tourer.
Sleek and elegant, the Mazda6 has a low-slung style that gives it terrific presence on the road plus the ability to pack in the bulky items or baggage.
Space is the first frontier for estates and in the Mazda's case there's an abundance - ample cabin room for five along with a huge boot, including a wide pocket either side.
Everything is well put together and the seats, in a durable black fabric, are comfortable. In fact the only gripe is a perched centre rear position in which the passenger has to sit with lega either side of the transmission tunnel.
Out on the road, the 6 is both enjoyable and frugal to drive - even when fully laden.
That's ensured by strong SKYACTIV engines - a choice of 2.0-litre petrol or 2.2 diesels, the latter in either 150 or 175PS power output.
The tested model, in high spec Sport Nav trim, featured the lowered powered oil-burner and six-speed manual transmission, which was good for spirited acceleration of 0-62 in 9.1 seconds.
More impressive though was the car's average fuel return of 47.6 miles per gallon over 350 miles of largely urban driving compared to the official figure of 57.6 for that type of motoring.
And when we did venture onto the motorway the experience was smooth and well balanced with an engaging feel from the leather steering wheel and clear all-round visibility.
Technology and safety features are already comprehensive, but the Japanese company has just added a series of upgrades that give the Mazda6 even greater appeal.
Among them is something called G-Vectoring Control, which can reduce driver fatigue and increase passenger comfort by taking away the need for the tiny corrections that some drivers make when driving straight.
The upshot is that it lowers driver effort and reduces the amount of head and body sway small steering corrections can create for passengers.
Otherwise, it's a leather steering wheel across the board, better sound insulation, eight colours and for higher spec versions the likes of a head up display with full colour and traffic sign recognition plus electric memory seats and auto power-folding mirrors.
Mazda6 2.2d Sport Nav Tourer
Mechanical: 150PS, 2,191cc diesel engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 68.9
Insurance Group: 23
C02 emissions: 116g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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