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.
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”.
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