This Mazda 6 really is the business
The Mazda 6 has been around a while but this new well-kitted Business Line version is a brilliant choice for fleet users, says Matt Kimberley, PA motoring writer.
This is a car that doesn't mess around with fancy names or gimmicks. Designed for business-users to make their working lives trawling up and down the country a bit less taxing, the Mazda 6 Business Line is thoroughly single-minded.
But for all that it has a surprisingly broad range of talents, and the more time you spend getting to know it the more of a bargain it seems. Let's start with the numbers.
Up front there's a 2.2-litre diesel with a broad spread of natural torque, and it's supplemented by a turbocharger to give 127bhp. It pumps out 133g/km of CO2, which really isn't a lot given the size of the engine, and its P11D value is just �18,130 – and wait until you find out how much kit it has.
Basic-rate taxpayers will fork out �60 per month to put it on their drives, and there are a lot of reasons why they might want to. There's a Sanyo TomTom touchscreen sat-nav system with integrated Bluetooth connectivity, 17in alloy wheels, metallic paint as a free option, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and audio controls on the steering wheel.
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Don't forget you're also getting a big car, with lots of legroom for five and a huge boot for transporting presentations, files or just about anything else a day in the life of a business driver might involve. As a hatchback there's relatively easy access for larger objects, although the deep load lip might sometimes throw a spanner in the works.
Climbing inside and getting comfortable, you find that there's plenty of adjustment available in the seat and steering wheel. Some cars ask you to develop very long arms and very short legs if you want to get comfy, but not so here. All the controls on the centre console fall easily to hand and in no time it feels like home from home.
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It certainly feels like a sizeable place to be and it feels solid, too, with all the plastics within touching distance feeling like they're made to last.
The gearbox feels much the same, with a very stiff gear stick that allows you to stir its six speeds with confidence and gusto – there's something of the wonderful MX-5's gear shift about it, especially in the shape of the gear stick.
It encourages you to effectively ball your fist around it so changing gear becomes almost a punching motion. It sometimes needs a firm hand but it feels involving and precise, lifting the driving experience a notch higher than in some rival cars.
The engine itself pulls strongly and evenly by way of a good push of the accelerator, with a certain tightness that comes with being relatively new. It feels like a more old-fashioned engine than some other modern diesels, with a slightly more pedestrian throttle response and a little bit of diesel rattle, but it's as tough as old boots.
It has a history of reliability and paints itself as a perfect choice for a high-mileage lifestyle. It cruises comfortably and quietly, although top gear could definitely be taller to keep the revs lower at motorway speeds and increase fuel economy further.
Arguably the biggest surprise, given the size of the car, is how well it handles. There's lots of grip to exploit, but it's the way the car communicates the state of the road and the way it stays so flat in corners that really impresses. It's a lot stiffer and a lot more agile and light-footed than you'd expect, despite the pleasantly weighty controls.
It adds up to a machine you can really enjoy driving, whether it's on the motorway to the airport or down country roads towards home. Just bear its size in mind in multi-storey car parks with their annoying high kerbs.
Rear passengers will be happy enough thanks to the 6's wide body and length providing ample room to stretch out. The rear seat bases are relatively curvaceous, which gives a feeling more of sitting in them rather than on them. Some people prefer that slightly increased sense of security.
One minor drawback is that you don't get a spare wheel. There's an emergency tyre repair kit but it might not be of much help if you pick up a puncture on the motorway. A spare would be better but it would eat into the boot space and add weight, so Mazda decided against it.
Standalone this is an excellent car, but add the genuinely remarkable price into the equation and you'd be silly not to.
The Mazda 6 has been around a while now, but it's an undeniably brilliant choice for fleet-buyers.