15 December 2021

BEST OF 2021: The Mazda 6 might not be anything special but it's what I've got right now

| James Coleman
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Mazda 6

Why do birds have to relieve themselves smack bang in the middle of the bonnet? Photo: James Coleman.

Year in Review: Region Media is revisiting some of the best Opinion articles of 2021. Here’s what got you talking, got you angry and got you thinking in 2021. Today, James Coleman tries to amuse himself in lockdown.

There is no race track, or sweeping country road, or even a gentle cruise through the city. There are no Lamborghinis and Dodges to test. There is just me, at home, in my at-home hoodie and my at-home slippers, looking at my car from the window, particularly annoyed by the freshly-laid bird crap on the bonnet.

Fortunately, it has risen to the occasion. Because what I especially love about my 2013 Mazda 6 wagon is that the designers went out of their way to make it look good. Just parting the curtains and catching a glimpse of it lounging on the driveway is a pick-me-up.

That only lasts so long though. I desperately want to drive and, for reasons beyond my control, that is a bit hard at the moment. Essential journalism doesn’t quite stretch to testing cars.

Mazda 6 it is then.

The Mazda 6 has been around since 2002 to fill the shoes of the traditional family car. Initially, it sold faster than any other Mazda model before it, but that has been slowly but surely dropping off with the rise of the new traditional family car, the SUV.

Mazda 6 park

Come hither. Photo: James Coleman.

This particular model was launched in December of 2012 and was promptly named a finalist for World Design of the Year 2013. It heralded a new styling direction for the brand called “Kodo”, designed to capture the “soul of motion”.

That’s how you win these awards, you see – it’s not just about making something look pretty; you must also accompany it with either “soul” or “essence” in the description.

But this was also when Mazda started to yap at the heels of the more prestigious Germans. The Japanese had proven that they could build a car that worked, very well at that; so now all they needed to do was polish it.

And polish it they did. For instance, this is the Touring model, one up from the bottom-range Sport, and yet we have leather seats with perforations and red stitching, TomTom satellite navigation (so it works), a Bose sound system, and a reverse camera.

Mind you, this did fetch $38,000 when it was new. My wife and I bought it last year with 120,000 km on the clock for a much more wallet-friendly $16,000. There was a baby on the way and we’d been told babies bring an entourage of stuff with them. You were all dead right.

This is where that gorgeous sloping roofline, the swelling rear haunches, and the overall compact proportions bite you in the bottom. Elise’s seat is not so much held in by the usual web of straps and belts as it is wedged between the seats. The boot, while big enough, always seems to be an annoying shape for whatever you’re trying to put in there.

But again, worth it. Because close the boot and a chrome exhaust pipe mounted on each side of the rear bumper will bring you back to what’s important.

On that, the Touring did come standard with 17-inch silver wheels, but I’ve upgraded these to the 19-inch ones used on the posher models and then sprayed them black. The mirror caps are also gloss black, and I have plans to wrap the roof rails in gloss black vinyl to match.

Just because I’m a dad now doesn’t mean I have to wear New Balance sneakers. My wagon can be cool.

Okay, so I’ve now squandered 500 words telling you about the looks of the 2013 Mazda 6. So what is it like to drive? Well, I’ll grab my face mask and tell you. I love it when we need more milk.

It’s fitted with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, and no, there is no mention of a turbo coming. That’s it. There are flappy paddles mounted to the steering wheel though.

And a Woolworths car park doesn’t exactly put this to the test but, in another lifetime, it’s worth noting that this very car lapped the Wakefield Park Raceway near Goulburn in 1.28 minutes. The brakes were nearly glowing and the engine fizzing but the point is, it did it.

For a run-of-the-mill kid cart, there’s an impressive deftness and daintiness to it.

Oh, and I have to say the fuel economy is brilliant. I’m still on the same tank of fuel I was on four weeks ago, and the needle has barely moved from “full”.

Kodo “soul in motion”, or maybe it’s just a very nice profile. Photo: James Coleman.

2013 Mazda 6 Touring (GJ-Series) wagon

  • $14,200 to $16,400
  • 120,000 to 200,000 average kilometres travelled
  • 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, 138 kW/250Nm
  • 6-speed sports automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 6.6 litres/100 km combined fuel use
  • 0-100 km/h in 8.2 seconds
  • 5-star ANCAP safety rating

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Capital Retro5:59 pm 20 Sep 21

Great to hear review of and ensuing discussion of something other that an EV.

Almost back to reality even.

SUVs are popular because they fill a lot of needs.

We are very happy with our 2015 2.5L Subaru Forester. I’ve only once managed to trigger the Automatic Stability Control. In city driving. AWD via a computer and three diffs is a boon.

It had a very few kms on it – from a Subaru exec. Still had the new car smell! And we got it for a song.

You feel safe driving it. Once you get used to being up higher and the lean.

Even with a ‘5-speed?’ CVTransmission? Yes!

I do not miss a clutch and all that, at all. You can put it in M mode, But I’ve never bothered.

It is grunty enough for us, and on long trips kicks down quickly for passing.

Hill descent feature was nice and re-assuring when tested, ahven’t needed it yet.

I only really learned to drive with the Army and 4WD Land-Rovers. Mostly in 2WD with the free-wheling front hubs feature on.

The Forester makes a LandRover – even when in 4WD – seem primitive, uncomfortable, and S’LOOOOW, and a bit boring.

Getting better than 10litres/100Km is possible on long trips, and more than 13 is rare.

The ride is a tad firmer than our previous cars, but it is very well damped.

Good long-drive ride too.

We’ve been to rellies in Toowoomba twice and the 2nd trip was a dream run compared to that in the Camry my son still drives.

It is no surprise to me that Toyota owns Subaru now and has for a while.

We don’t own shares in either company.

10L/100km is pretty ordinary even for a 2015 Forester Timbo – according to Fuelly, based on data from 465 vehicles, 43,750 fuel-ups and 21,028,112 km of driving, the 2.5L 2015 Subaru Forester gets a combined Avg L/100km of 9.36

Anyone doing any significant freeway kms should be achieving well under this figure.

One of the nicest designs to come out of Japan. The sweeping lines could have come out of a Jaguar design studio, but unlike Jaguar, 1000% more reliable

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