GVC may not necessarily add much to the driving experience that's noticeable, but the Mazda 6 still turns in keenly and the handling is pretty tight. It’s one of the better handling cars in the class, if still not quite as good as a Ford Mondeo.
The more noticeable tweak in this latest Mazda 6 is engine refinement. The 2.2-litre diesel engine in our carl is the most powerful in the range and delivers its power smoothly and now slightly more quietly than before. Once settled down at higher speeds refinement is very good, and even when you plant your foot down engine noise only becomes unpleasant when pushed very hard.
It's quick, too, making light work of B-road overtakes and motorway journeys, while the slick six-speed manual gearbox is great to use, with a fast and positive action that’s up there with the best in class. Turbo lag has been improved on for this facelift, but that - like GVC - is pretty subtle. It wasn’t a huge problem before though, so this engine - which is the most powerful of the range - pulls stoutly from low revs.
Sport Nav trim it’s a pretty lavish affair, with Mazda’s easy-to-use infotainment system a clear highlight. Its layout is simple, there’s no problem using it on the move, and is only surpassed by systems from the like of Audi and BMW. Perceived quality of the switchgear and materials inside are also strong. It’s fairly practical too, with good space for four adults, although a Mondeo and Superb will seat in even more comfort.
Sport Nav is the range-topper and now comes with a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, a heated steering wheel and electric memory seats at no extra cost from before. But still the best value is entry-level SE which gets air-con, 17in alloys, cruise control and a 7.0in touchscreen system.
Should I buy one?
The Mazda 6 remains a decently spacious saloon that’s good to drive, which is rare among family cars. This top-spec 6 comes with a brilliant level of equipment and has a strong engine to boot, but a Mondeo remains better to drive, and a Superb has better interior space and quality still.
Bear in mind that the closest equivalently powerful and trimmed diesel versions of those cars cost more, so if diesel pace is a priority, then this engine is a good bet within the wider class. Even so, we’d sooner point you in the direction of a Skoda Superb if your budget can stretch to it, it being the better all-rounder.
If you're sold on a 6, though, Mazda's 148bhp 2.2 diesel engine is cheaper to buy, more fuel efficient and still offers more than adequate performance, while entry-level SE trim is really all you'll ever need.
2016 Mazda 6 Saloon 2.2 Skyactiv-D 175 Saloon
Location Feltham, Middlesex; On Sale Now; Price £26,795; Engine 4 cyls, 2191cc, diesel; Power 174bhp at 4500rpm; Torque 310lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1590kg; 0-62mph 7.9sec; Top speed 139mph; Economy 62.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 119g/km, 18% Rivals Ford Mondeo, Skoda Superb