THE Mazda6 has matured with a new engine and a new high level trim joining the line up.
Priced from £30,795 the GT Sport Nav+ sits at the top of an 18 model range that comprises saloon and estate body styles.
It's powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine developing 194ps and as such is the most powerful - and quickest - Mazda6 in the current range.
Available only with a six-speed automatic transmission, the Mazda6 GT has a 0 to 60 acceleration time of 8.1 seconds, a maximum of 138mph and officially is rated at 42.2 to the gallon with emissions of 153g/km.
As the new flagship of the range the GT model comes fully equipped and smartly presented with the likes of Japanese Sen wood used in the trim, leather upholstery and suede-effect material on the dash and in the doors.
The GT also gets some external differences over the Sport Nav+ models with a slightly extended rear bumper and a gunmetal finish to the front grille.
On the road the new Mazda makes a fine fist of the job. The power delivery is smooth, progressive and can be nicely sporty if required.
The handling is out of the top drawer - a strong point on any Mazda - and the suspension is well set up to cope with our roads.
Paddle shifters are fitted for manual gear changes and there's also a multi-mode drive selector which can add to the sporty feel if wanted.
Fuel economy from Mazda's family of SKYACTIV engines is another strong point and we managed to average close on 40 to the gallon on a good run.
Safety systems fitted to the GT include a driver alert monitor, a surround-view camera, adaptive LED headlights and anti-collision system front and rear.
Apart from the extra level of refinement inside, the GT is the same as any other Mazda6 which means there's a good amount of space all round. Boot space is also good at 480 litres.
Sat nav is standard and is viewed via an eight-inch display screen which sits proud of the dash.
The instrument panel includes a TFT information panel and the car is also fitted with a head-up display that projects information directly on to the windscreen.
In fact the only options are a lighter coloured Nappa leather trim at Â£200 or a special paint job which ranges from Â£560 for a metallic, pearlescent or mica finish to Â£800 for Mazda's soul red crystal finish which sets the car off to a tee.
Estate versions of the GT cost from £31,695 and take the cargo capacity up to 506 litres extending to a maximum of 1,648 with the rear seat backs dropped.
The GT Sport Nav+ may be the first Mazda6 to break the Â£30,000 barrier - it carries a premium of some Â£5,000 over 2.0-litre petrol Sport Nav+ models and Â£2,300 more than similar specification 2.2-litre diesels - but like for like is still hugely competitive.
It puts the new Mazda in the same league as the Audi A4, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class and that is no mean achievement.
Mazda is also offering the 6 in GT Sport Nav+ trim with its 2.2-litre diesel engine where it is priced from £30,885 in the saloon or £31,785 for the estate.
The diesel is a six-speed manual and while not quite as quick under acceleration - 0 to 60 is 8.5 seconds - it does offer better economy with official figures of 60.1mpg for the saloon and 58.6 for the estate.