New 2018 Mazda 6 review – facelifted family car a hidden gem - Ride and handling

Forget about SUVs. The Mazda 6, particularly in estate form, is proof that brilliant mainstream family cars still exist

Evo rating
  • Energetic, excitable drivetrain, good chassis, sophisticated design and impressive interior
  • Engines needs to be worked to perform

Ride and handling 

Have you driven a compact SUV lately? The good ones, and by that I mean the SEAT Ateca or Ford Kuga, might have left you pleasantly surprised about how ‘car-like’ they drove. One drive in the Mazda 6 and you’ll realise that even these high-riding paragons have a long way to go before the can match the dynamics of something like the 6. Settle into the firm but comfortable driver’s seat, the gearstick nestles at the right height to your left, the wheel perfectly positioned at your chest.

A good driving position is so crucial to the driving experience, and being a low-slung saloon or estate, the Mazda 6 starts with a good one. It’s instantly readable; little to no acclimatisation is required when you set off. It instantly fills you with confidence in the car’s abilities, and is something many Japanese manufacturers seem to get right more often than not. The ride is settled, and despite sizable 19-inch wheels, remains compliant and refined even as the roads deteriorate. Start pushing a little harder and the light, but accurate steering wakes up, feeding small amounts of information at you without any unnecessary chatter. Start loading up the chassis and its composure doesn’t suffer either; it rolls, yes, but never to the point of feeling unwieldy, or uncouth.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

Push yet harder and its overall 4.8m length starts showing its hand, though. Often we praise front-wheel-drive cars that have a certain level of chassis-adjustability, and it’s no different here, but at this speed roll becomes quite pronounced, and with a little provocation can lead to a very sensible car feeling a little ragged on the road.

Now it’s doubtful that the normal Mazda 6 driver will push it to such an extent, and it surely won’t see any time on a racetrack to explore the very outer edges of its capability, but the fact that the Mazda 6 doesn’t fall to pieces when you get close to it says a lot about the Mazda’s inherently talented chassis. Try driving like that in one of the SUVs mentioned above and you’ll either end up in the clench of an overbearing stability control system, or worse, upended and on your side...

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

If there is a rational reason to overlook mainstream family cars and head for an SUV we’re yet to find it. The Mazda 6, especially when in estate form, is a fantastic real world combination of a car often overlooked, unless it’s the only option on a company car list. We won’t lie, the prospect of an extra 60bhp, such as is available in other markets like the US and Australia, plus a little extra focus to the set-up would finally give the perennial accessible performance estate, the Skoda Octavia vRS, something to really think about.  But we get it; cars like the Mazda 6 just aren’t as desirable as SUVs at the school drop-off point, but does it really matter?

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/sports-cars/202115/porsche-ditches-four-cylinder-for-flat-six-in-cayman-and-boxster-gts
sports cars

Porsche ditches four-cylinder for flat-six in Cayman and Boxster GTS

New models eschew turbos with detuned 4-litre from the Spyder and GT4
15 Jan 2020
Visit/toyota/gt-86/202104/toyota-gt86-vs-mazda-mx-5-vs-abarth-124-spider-lightweight-sports-car-shootout
Toyota GT 86

Toyota GT86 vs Mazda MX-5 vs Abarth 124 Spider – lightweight sports car shootout

Three affordable sports cars from Japan and, er, Japan battle it out on the Yorkshire Dales
14 Jan 2020
Visit/news/202119/2020-geneva-motor-show-preview-what-to-expect-from-europes-most-important-auto-show
News

2020 Geneva motor show preview

Electrification will likely dominate proceedings, but Geneva will have plenty of performance metal to get excited about too
17 Jan 2020
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019