Mazda6 Touring Test Drive Review

Mazda6 Touring Test Drive Review

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When the original Mazda6 debuted in 2002, it replaced the long-serving 626 line and marked the start of the new ‘Zoom-Zoom’ era for Mazda. Now in its third generation, the latest Mazda6 follows hot on the heels of the overwhelmingly successful CX-5 compact SUV to usher yet another new chapter in Mazda’s history heralded by an all-new generation of vehicles underpinned by the company’s revolutionary SkyActiv engineering philosophy.

The new car has considerable shoes to fill; the first two generations of the Mazda6 have acquired a sizable following for the brand and continue to hold high regard amongst the Malaysian motoring public. Random checks through our database of used cars show that these vehicles hold their value almost just as well as a Toyota Camry of equivalent specification and year.

Mazda officially launched the third-generation 6 in our shores at the end of March, and for the first time ever, the official line-up features the option of an estate body, which is the subject of our review today.

Prices and Variants

As highlighted in our pre-launch test drive report of the 6 published back in January, the main-selling sedan body style is offered with two engine options, displacing 2.0 and 2.5 litres. The latest price list from Bermaz Motor quotes these two variants at RM159,455.50 and RM189,728.40 respectively with on-road costs and insurance.

Officially bestowed the Hatch Touring moniker, the load-lugging variant of the 6 is marketed as the range’s flagship, and it accordingly commands the highest price at RM193,832.40 – a RM4,100 premium over the 2.5 sedan with which it shares the same engine and equipment. Mazda does not offer our market with the option of a 2.0 Touring.

We have been made to understand that Malaysia’s allocation of 2013 Mazda6 sedans have been sold out, leaving only units of the Touring in the stockyards to choose from. This relative disparity in demand has nothing to do with any fault of the Touring, but due in bigger part to the overwhelming preference of most Malaysian buyers for the traditional three-box sedan.

Front panels are identical to the sedan’s, but you can tell the difference by the roof rails..


The Mazda6 Touring’s spec sheet is almost a carbon copy of the 2.5 sedan’s with regards to mechanical components and features. Notable equipment in the list worth highlighting include i-ELOOP regenerative braking, engine start/stop, sunroof, reverse camera, keyless entry & start, and automatic self-leveling bi-Xenon headlamps.

Recently awarded five stars by Euro NCAP, the Mazda6 also comes with a comprehensive array of safety equipment such as ABS, EBD, traction and stability control, and six airbags. Exclusive the 2.5-litre sedan and Touring models is the i-Activsense package that adds in autonomous braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, auto high beam control, and adaptive front lighting.

Equipped with direct injection and operating on a 13:1 compression ratio, the 6’s 2.5-litre SkyActiv-G engine is one of the most potent powerplants of the D-segment, its 185hp and 250Nm outputs comfortably eclipsing every petrol mill this side of the Ford Mondeo EcoBoost. It is paired with Mazda’s 6-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission as standard.

Decent amount of storage space along the centre console.


Although Malaysians have always known the Mazda6 only as a sedan, Mazda had offered the first two generations of its D-segment flagship worldwide with a choice of three body styles – sedan, hatchback, and estate. The hatchback option has been discontinued for this generation, leaving us with the sedan, which caters for American and Asian tastes, and the estate we are testing here, designed with European requirements in mind.

The above insight crucially explains why the 6 Touring has a rather unique characteristic of having shorter overall length and wheelbase than its sedan counterpart. This difference has consequences that are both dynamic, which I will come to later, and aesthetic, for which I will say as much – the 6 Touring looks sportier and more purposeful than the sedan. The four-door looks good on its own, but next to the Touring, the sedan’s rear suddenly looks bulky in comparison.

Its length and wheelbase are both shorter than the sedan’s.


Cabin finishing is an area which Mazda can rarely be faulted. True to form, the 6’s cabin combines an excellent choice of materials with superb fit and finish. The entire top piece of the dashboard is moulded in soft touch plastic, although the panels do get increasingly harder as you go lower. Buttons exude pleasing tactile sensations that would not be out of place in German vehicles.

Design-wise, one can perhaps criticize the cabin for lacking expressiveness and the overall mood is perhaps a touch sombre – it’s very business-like, but not particularly exciting. Ergonomics are largely fault free; controls are intuitive and within reach, although the sensitivity of the built-in touch screen seemed unpredictable – programming my favourite stations into memory required multiple attempts. The dash-mounted digital clock is placed in the vicinity of the climate controls – way below the driver’s natural line of sight. It seems almost like an afterthought.

Rear visibility is not a strong suit of the 6 Touring. The raking tailgate needed to accommodate the vehicle’s dynamic shape has forced the rear window to be narrow slit, which in turn limits visibility through the rear mirror – thank God for the reverse camera. Curiously, rear three quarter vision is not fantastic either – the front passenger seat obscures effective vision out of the left flank, mildly unsettling when coming out of junctions.

Multimedia touchscreen with GPS and reverse camera.

Driving Experience

When we tested the Mazda6 sedan earlier this year in Bukit Tinggi, the test cars that came with us were fresh out of the port and barely run-in, and they felt a little sluggish as a result. Our Touring test car featured here today had nearly 10,000km on the clock when we drove it, and its engine consequently felt livelier and more responsive. Prods of the accelerator are greeted with an enthusiastic growl as the tachometer encroaches the upper end of the rev ranges. The engine feels wonderfully pleasant to wield, but actual progress is linear and measured.

Smoothness and refinement are the standout qualities of the driving experience. The engine barely makes a noise at idle, and for a petrol mill, it is impressively comfortable chugging along at sub-2,000rpm without any sensation of struggling. Alongside the engine, the SkyActiv-Drive transmission distinguishes itself with smooth and unobtrusive gear shifts. Resultant vibrations of the engine auto start/stop feature are satisfactorily damped, though not inaudible.

Engine start/stop button.

As mentioned earlier, the Touring’s shortened wheelbase over the sedan carries dynamic consequences, and it is in favour of the former, which feels more agile on the turn. The steering manages to strike a right balance in feeling light but not over-assisted; it makes the 6 feel more fleet-footed than the Ford Mondeo, which remains the segment’s gold standard in driving dynamics. Where the Mazda falls short against the Ford is outright muscle from the engine room and stability at high speeds, the latter marginally so.

Ride comfort is beyond criticism, and especially impressive considering the 19″ rims that are fitted as standard with this variant. The usual vices typically associated with oversized rims – jittery ride and loss of composure on poor surfaces – are for the most part effectively dialed out.

Steering-mounted controls for audio, auto cruise, and Bluetooth. Gear shift paddles included.


Due to prevailing market tastes, it is difficult to see the Mazda6 Touring becoming anything more than a niche product. Malaysia for the moment remains overwhelmingly a sedan market, and Mazda fully expects to sell more 6 sedans even though the 6 Touring does boast superior dynamics and practicality; it even looks better in my opinion, but that’s an entirely subjective assessment.

At the moment, the 6 Touring is one of a very small handful of estates available to Malaysian buyers. Other than the Peugeot 508 SW 1.6 THP, every other option available is priced north of RM200k, and none can claim to be significantly superior than the Mazda. It would be difficult to persuade someone set on buying the Mazda6 sedan to consider the Touring, but for someone intent on buying a station wagon, the 6 Touring is a compelling choice in a limited pool of options.



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