From February 2010 issue

List price when tested: £20,170
Kerbweight: 1575kg
85% match: 1339kg
Max towing weight: 1600kg
Towball limit: 75kg
30-60mph: 12.1seconds
30-0mph: 10.0m

IT MAY not be quite such a common sight on the roads as the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia, but the Mazda 6 has quietly built up a strong reputation as a reliable and practical family car.

The Mazda isn’t just a sensible buy, it’s a fun car, too. Performance from the 2.2-litre diesel is strong, and crisp steering and nimble handling will have the corners of your mouth turning upwards whenever the road starts to twist and turn.

Good body control

Cars which are enjoyable to drive solo often prove capable towcars, and that’s true of the Mazda 6. Good body control at speed makes for safe and stable towing. Through our lane-change test the 6 was undisturbed, hustling through the cones at speeds which would have many cars lurching and sliding. Towing on the motorway the Mazda only needed the occasional steering correction, even though our test drive took place on a windy day.

It’s a shame the 6 didn’t perform better in the hill-start test, needing a second, firmer pull on the handbrake to stop the outfit rolling backwards on a 1-in-10 slope. However, this niggle aside we’re very happy with the Mazda’s towing credentials.

It makes a very good family estate, too. With the rear seats upright there’s 519 litres of luggage space, rising to 1751 litres with the rear seats folded. Folding the seats flat is an easy job, thanks to levers on either side of the boot – there’s no need to release catches on the seat backs themselves.

Inside, there’s not as much passenger space as you’ll find in a Skoda Superb, but we can’t see many families complaining. The keen price and low running costs complete a compelling picture – we think the Mazda is among the best family estate cars you can buy.

We say
Towing: 4/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 4/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 4/5 – Fine value, good to drive and practical.

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