PAYING an additional Â£800 for a particular paint finish might sound a bit extravagant, but when you see how a new Mazda6 in exclusive Soul Red Crystal Metallic stands out from the crowd you can see why it's a popular option.
The special three-layer Takuminuri painting technology increases the brightness by a dramatic 20 per cent and really gets the car noticed.
And it's just one of the reasons the Mazda6 is now a very credible alternative to models from premier manufacturers.
Whether you opt for the saloon or tourer (estate) the new model is sleek, stylish and has curves in all the right places.
And the Tourer GT Sport Nav+ was just as appealing on the inside as the out, with off-white leather upholstery contrasting dramatically with the bright red exterior.
The latest model has undergone a number of cosmetic changes just to freshen things up a little but nothing too dramatic.
There's a larger grille with revised LED headlamps, a bit more chrome work and changes to the appearance of the rear lights.
Inside, however, the changes are more radical and give the car a more appealing image.
The dashboard has been given an up-market look with soft touch surfaces and real wood trim, there's an eight-inch touch screen for satellite navigation and on-board functions and you also get a head-up display so you don't have to take your eyes off the road to find out how fast you are going.
The front seats have both heating and cooling functions and - unusually - the rear seats are heated too, although it took me a while to discover the latter as the switches are hidden in the fold up centre armrest.
Other creature comforts which make the GT Sport Nav+ easy to live with include an electrically adjustable driver's seat, a heated steering wheel, a slide and tilt glass sunroof and a colour reversing camera with a 360 degree view so there's no excuse for clipping anything behind you.
On the road the Mazda6 is one of the most refined and quietest diesels around, thanks in part to extra sound proofing. Cruise in top gear on the motorway and you can barely hear anything except the radio.
The 2.2-litre engine mated to a slick six-speed manual gearbox is impressively torquey and responsive, particularly in mid range motoring.
And when it comes to night driving the adaptive LED headlights are some of the best I have come across.
Space in the Mazda6 is generous to say the least, with plenty of stretch room for rear seat passengers.
And beneath the rear tailgate there is some 506 litres of luggage space rising to 1,648 with the rear seatbacks down.
Mazda claims the car will average nearly 59 miles per gallon and over a week's motoring I was easily able to achieve that and slightly more, which is a real rarity.