Used car buyer's guide: Mazda6
THE Mazda6 is a tough car to get a handle on. Why? Because it seems to change its look, its feel and its personality quite markedly from one generation to the next.
As is the case for any such vehicle like this – and Mazda isn't alone in this characteristic – there are good and not so good Mazda6 vintages.
We are looking at the improved mk II model introduced in 2010 and continuing on sale until the end of 2012. It was one of the better iterations. Here's what to look for if you're interested in grabbing a used bargain.
Mazda has a strong reputation for reliability and the Mazda6 should prove a durable companion. Some of the minor interior plastics aren't of the highest quality, so check for wear and tear in out-of-sight areas.
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The 2.0-litre diesel engines used to have issues with their diesel particulate filter (especially if they were predominantly driven at low speeds in urban areas) but a redesign of this part cleared up that problem with this car. Make sure the diesels start relatively crisply and don't suffer from lazy glow plugs.
It's a testimony to the go-ahead spirit pervading Mazda that, though part of the Ford family, its engineers chose not to use the class-leading Mondeo underpinnings for this car. You don't, after all, beat a competitor by merely copying it but by improving upon what's already out there. Whether this was achieved in this case may come down to personal taste – the differences aren't great – but many will feel that this car shades its outstanding Ford rival. Being lighter and smaller helps for a start and revisions to the suspension improved the ride while keeping body roll well in check.
In other words the "zoom-zoom" advertising catchline isn't just a slogan: this genuinely is a family car you can really look forward to driving – it's agile and grippy with a sharp electric steering set-up from Mazda's RX-8 sports car and a precise five- or six-speed manual gearbox, plus large brakes.
All of the engines, bar perhaps the entry-level 120PS petrol 1.8, have enough about them for you to put all this to the test when the family's been dropped off and there's no-one but you on your favourite back road home.
Mazda developed a direct injection 155PS 2.0-litre DISI petrol unit to slot in below the minority interest 170PS 2.5-litre petrol variant, but most buyers will want one of the 2.2-litre diesels with their prodigious pulling power, even in entry-level 129PS guise. The top 180PS model now has a smaller turbo for greater efficiency, but is still impressively torquey, though not noticeably more than the 163PS version that most buyers choose, capable of 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds on the way to a maximum of 132mph.
All the small niggles and problems of the launch model tend to go on a to-do list and are ruthlessly ironed out in the facelift car.
Of course, it helps if the styling isn't ruined by heavy-handed designers, but fortunately the facelifted mk II Mazda6 changed what was already a good car into a more expressive talented contender.
New car buyers in the 2010 to 2012 period perhaps found it difficult to forget the rather anonymous original mark II model. Clued-in used buyers can benefit from the general public's apathy. There are used bargains in this range from top to bottom.
Get 'em while the getting's good.