SALOONS may not be flavour of the month right now, with family car buyers seemingly much happier to worship at the altar of the ubiquitous SUV.
Few car makers seem to be rushing to ditch the traditional ‘three-box' format, though. They remain a particularly popular choice with fans of premium badges, while there are still plenty of more reasonably priced options around too - often targeting business buyers and fleet managers.
Prime among the latter is the Mazda6, still regarded as the Japanese firm's flagship model and offering sharper looks and the sort of engaging driving dynamics, something of a brand forte, that set it apart from many of its immediate rivals.
Prices start from Â£24,725, rising to Â£34,735, across a range of 12 models covering four trim grades, with a selection of Mazda's Skyactiv petrol and diesel engines ranging from 145 to 194ps and with automatic and manual transmission options.
While many manufacturers are currently retreating from diesel power in favour of hybrid technology, Mazda is still committed to its oil burners, believing they are clean and efficient. Our test car was powered by the entry level 2.2-litre, 150ps unit mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
It's a combination which offers decent economy, with a claimed 55.4mpg on average, but still packs enough oomph for mixed everyday driving - punchy and responsive in urban traffic but a smooth and reasonably refined cruiser on the motorway.
A 0-62mph time of ten seconds flat and a top speed of 131mph should be plenty of pace for most while the typically involving Mazda drive, aided by the compact if a little notchy at times six-speed manual gearbox, will keep enthusiasts relatively happy.
The car sits low to the ground and boasts sweeping lines and a raking roofline that give it genuinely appealing coupe looks - but which also help it stay glued to the road and deliver sharp, nimble handling and sure footed, flat cornering.
Behind the wheel the 6 offers plenty of adjustment, so most drivers should be able to get comfortable, and an attractive ‘cockpit' with all the essential instruments well laid out and within easy reach.
An eight-inch touchscreen multimedia interface sits atop the dashboard offering access to many functions which can also be controlled via a rotary dial and physical buttons housed beneath the gear lever, akin to those seen in more premium rivals.
A head-up display, with traffic sign recognition, is also standard across the range and projects useful driving information onto the windscreen in front of the driver, minimising the need to take your eyes off the road.
Indeed, equipment levels are generous in all versions of the 6 helping, alongside some good quality, soft touch materials and solid construction, to give it an upmarket feel which will appeal to business buyers and families alike.
Our SE L Lux Nav+ model sits just one above the entry-level trim grade but boasts a long list of high-tech gadgetry and creature comforts including leather upholstery, heated front seats with power adjustment, heated steering wheel, rear privacy glass, dual-zone air conditioning with rear vents, navigation, digital radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mobile phone connectivity.
There's also a comprehensive list of safety features and driver aids on board such as cruise control, reversing camera, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist systems and automatic emergency braking.
There's room enough in the cabin for four adults to travel in comfort with good leg room for those in the back, although that sloping roof means that six-footers might find head room a bit of a squeeze, and some decent storage cubbies for all of their bits and bobs.
Saloons, of course, do not offer the same load carrying versatility as a hatchback or SUV - but at 480 litres, including an under-floor storage compartment, the boot of the 6 is, nonetheless, generously proportioned.
The weekly shop, a couple of suitcases or a set of golf clubs will be accommodated with ease and the cargo capacity can also be extended by quickly folding down the 60/40 split rear seat backs via handy quick-release levers in the boot.