IN the game of winners and losers, the bread-and-butter four-door saloon has lost out heavily as far as popularity is concerned.
The clear front-runner is the ubiquitous SUV, but don't discount the punching power of estate cars.
Often possessing similar carrying capacity to a high-rider, their handling and driving characteristics remain uncompromised from the saloon on which they are based.
And a car range that lacks the alternative of a hatchback - which is the case in the Mazda6 line-up - the clear winner on practicalities is the estate car, or Tourer as it is named.
Well-equipped and sleekly styled, the 6 Tourer is offered with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, the most powerful and performance-orientated version being the 2.2 diesel in 183bhp guise.
Refreshed and smartened a couple of years ago its 522 litre boot may not be the largest in its sector, but should be big enough for most families. Flip down the back seats and this enlarges to 1,664 litres.
The cabin, once a little down-market, is now a class act with a prominent eight-inch touchscreen, high grade plastics and an orderly array of large circular dials and solid switches. In Sport Nav+ form, as tested, it is a match for the recognised German prestige brands.
Loads of goodies comes as standard including heated leather seats, led headlights, glass sliding sunroof and front, heated steering wheel and rear and side cameras to aid parking. All versions get dual zone air con, adaptive cruise control and keyless ignition.
Interior finish is right up to the mark and there are ample storage places to absorb the usual clutter families require.
In keeping with Mazda's determination to ensure their cars drive well, the Tourer is surprisingly agile for a large estate with bags of feel from the direct steering and an excellent platform which allows the car to feel securely planted on the road.
Bump suppression is good and cornering roll is kept to a minimum, encouraging keen driving if the mood takes you.
The four cylinder diesel is among the quietest in its class. Together with an absence of wind intrusion, long distances are covered in relaxed and near silent fashion. Its considerable torque further enhances the experience and makes mid-range overtaking fast and drama-free.
It comes standard with a six-speed gearbox, although there's an automatic option. The manual box, as tested, is light and slick with a short-throw action that ideally suits the car's nature. Acceleration from a start is nimble with 62mph coming up just over eight seconds and it maxes out at 140mph. But it's the high gear pull that's most useful in everyday driving.
Despite its ample urge, the diesel engine has a meagre appetite for fuel and most owners will easily squeeze close to 50 miles from a gallon.
Well built and practical but still fun to drive, the 6 Tourer especially in its most powerful diesel form, deserves to earn a place on famlies' shortlist.
2.2litre, 183bhp, 4 cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via manual gearbox