Review: Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012)

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Neatly styled, entry-level models a good balance of ride and handling, excellent 2.2-litre diesel engine.

Saloon version not popular, DPF problem with 2.0 diesels can lead to engine failure, No spare but full size spare available at £70.

Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012): At A Glance

This is a tale of two cars. On the one hand we have the entry level Mazda 6 1.8S, coming in at a very reasonable £15,100 on the road. On the other, we have the BOSE audio, leather-trimmed 2.5SL at a considerably heavier £20,680.

Actually "heavier" is the wrong word. Because all new bigger, better Mazda 6s weigh in at an average 35 kilos lighter than the old car. As with the new Mazda 2, the company has stopped eating all the pies and is thinking along the same lines as a supermodel.

As well as more car at less weight it's also more streamlined. Little touches, including a gizmo that looks like a horses hoof in front of each of the front wheels, cut drag down to a very impressive Cd 0.27.

That makes it quieter and more fuel-efficient which in turn means it emits less CO2 so you pay less tax, whether you're a private motorist or a company driver. One of the factoids Mazda was keen to impress on us was that whereas the previous 1.8i meant you were taxed on a BIK of 24% of the car's list price, the new 1.8 comes in at 19%. And, though prices are slightly up (balanced by a lot more kit on each model), they reckon the average company driver will pay £20 a month less for more car, whether they go for the 1.8i or the 2.0 litre diesel.

Mazda 6 2008 Model Road Test

Mazda 6 2008 Wagon Road Test 

Mazda 6 2.2 Diesel 2008 Road Test and Video

Mazda 6 2010 Facelift Road Test and Video

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What does a Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012) cost?

List Price from £24,400
Buy new from £21,558
Contract hire from £219.14 per month

Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4690–4785 mm
Width 1780–1795 mm
Height 1430–1490 mm
Wheelbase 2675–2725 mm

Full specifications

Take a look at the spec of the S model below and you'll see it has everything most drivers want, including the three A's (alloys and air and CD audio), not to mention height-adjustable drivers seat with adjustable lumbar support, height and reach adjustable steering, in fact so much adjustment it can accommodate anyone from 4' 11 to 6' 11. And, thankfully, Mazda's standard thumbwheel for the drivers seat and release lever for the passenger, which makes it much easier for the driver to minutely adjust his backrest on the move.

Every all-new Mazda 6 comes all the usual safety and security kit, including: Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System, all-disc brakes with anti-lock, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist, daytime running lights, driver and passenger front airbags, front side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners with load-limiters, active front seat head restraints, ISOFIX child seat anchorages, a Thatcham Category 1 anti-theft alarm and even a pre-settable overspeed warning buzzer.

Child seats that fit a Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012) like to drive?

At the presentation, Mazda banged on about ‘Kizuna', which translates to "an emotional connection between car and driver achieved by a mix of quality and reliability and environment and safety." They reminded us that in the German 2006 J D Power satisfaction survey the old Mazda 6 came out best of all cars on sale there, including all German cars, and in the Autobild 100,000 kilometre test, involving a full strip-down at the end, the old Mazda 6 emerged completely fault-free.

Compared to the old Mazda 6, the new car has much reduced road noise, actually below the levels generated in the Vectra, Avensis and Passat. And, on the road, both of the cars were tried were very quiet.

The 2.5SL came on 18" alloys with 225/45 tyres, so naturally bump-thumped over sharp ridges and potholes, but the 215/50 R17s on the 1.8TS2 were fine and I guess the 205/60 R16s on the S and TS would be best of the lot.

The 1.8 has quite a useful powerband, giving maximum power of 120PS at 5,500rpm and maximum torque of 165Nm at 4,300rpm. That enabled it to pull out of uphill hairpin bends in 2nd cleanly, rather than having to resort to 1st and meant even tight corners could be flowed together rather than tackled in a series of lurches and jerks. Steering and handling, with the DSC off, were perfectly balanced for a car of this one's modest aspirations, I'd say better even than the new Mondeo, which is really saying something. Enthusiastic drivers will not be disappointed even by this most basic version. Nor will anyone seeking quietness, refinement and comfort. It's geared at 25mph per 1,000rom in 5th. And it does the job better than anything else in the same class for the money.

The 2.5SL is less successful because it sets its sights that much higher and finds itself up against opposition like the Audi A4 B6, BMW 318i, Honda Accord and SAAB 9-3. It obviously offers more power and more equipment for the money than the German opposition, and it's quiet at speed, comfortable and decent to drive. But it doesn't move the game ahead as far as the 1.8S does for £5,500 less money.

Though we could only drive a 1.8TS2 and a 2.5SL, there will be a sensible range of Mazda 6s. There' also a 2.0 litre petrol engine available with 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmissions, a 6-speed 140PS diesel (starting at a sensible £15,620). And a super looking estate.

TS2 trim upwards is fitted with steering wheel controls for the radio, air-conditioning, trip computer, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and satnav (if fitted) which, apparently, reduces driver ‘look away time' enabling his eyes to stay focused on the road.

One criticism that fed through from readers experience of the old car are the headlights. At least the Xenon lights on the 2.5SL, which, by EC law, have to be fitted with self-adjusting dipped beam-height electric motors. If you are driving on dipped bean a twisting undulating road, the motors just don't work fast enough and you can find yourself alternately blinding oncoming drivers then driving into the dark.UPDATE: 2.2-litre diesel

The latest incarnation of the Mazda 6 has always been an impressive car. Very handsome, and easily confused in the mind, with the Honda Accord. You have to look twice to be sure which is which.
And the Mazda 6 station wagon probably has the most graceful rear end of any station wagon anywhere in the World.

It steers and handles beautifully too. Easily on a par with the latest Mondeo at its best.

But the engine range wasn't as strong as the rest of the car. The 1.8 petrol engine is a very good 1.8, but the 2.0 litre doesn't compare as well with other 2.0 litres, the 2.5 emits too much to get on most people's shopping lists these days, and the 2.0 diesels, though strong, had been developing a bit of a reputation for turbo trouble in the old Mazda 6.

So Mazda got to work on a new alloy block, chain cam, balancer shaft diesel engine, like Toyota raising the capacity to 2.2 litres, and offering it in three different outputs of 125PS, 163PS and 185PS. Not only that, by virtue of some clever technology and a new type of particulate filter, CO2 levels are down and only the high power wagon comes in at over 150g/km CO2.

What's really special about the new particulate filter is that on the combined running cycle it only needs to regenerate half as many times, and the times spent regenerating are shortened by a third. That means less worry about the ‘depollution' light coming on and better fuel economy because the engine burns less fuel regenerating.

Volvo has its blind spot warning light and Mazda has come up with something similar, which it calls ‘Rear Vehicle Monitoring System'. This uses wide-angle 24Ghz microwave radar on both sides of the rear bumper to monitor the presence and speed of anything approaching in that area. If it spots something, it warns you with a flashing light, and if the Mazda driver signals to change lanes it also emits a warning beep. Unlike mirrors, it works even in heavy rain or thick fog. It's the sort of device that should be fitted to every LHD truck and van entering the UK, and every RHD truck and van entering mainland Europe.Though Mazda says you get maximum torque or 360Nm from 1,800rpm to 3,000rpm, you didn't on our 163. There was a noticeable catapult effect at about 2,300rpm when the turbo wound up. However, it was happy to trickle down to 1,000rpm and even pull uphill in high gears from low revs, so it did prove to be a reasonable flexible friend.

I've written about the handling before, which is excellent without resorting to different settings of ‘sport', ‘standard' and ‘comfort' like a high spec Mondeo. You can switch off the ESP if you want, but these days I generally don't want, at least on public roads, and the system is a sensible one that doesn't come into effect unless the car (and you) really need it. You can have your fun and neat it.

On the wagon, practical features abound, like the ‘Karakuri' rear seats that flop down at the flip of a latch on the boot side, so you don't have to mess around pulling knobs on the tops of the seats. The load area is long and flat. The load cover comes up with the hatchback lid. And, while there's plenty of space for your bags behind, the back seats offer bags of head and legroom.

Next day, we got out hands on a 185PS hatchback, and if you've got the extra cash this is definitely the one to go for. You get a lot more urge from lower revs whether you're using the gears or not, and there is very little sacrifice in economy. Only £30 a year more tax, and then only if you go for the 185PS wagon. The 185PS saloon and hatchback stay under 150g/km.

This really is a sports diesel, and possibly the best ‘D sector' front drive diesel you can buy. It grips tenaciously and the steering is sufficiently informative to tell you the instant it finally starts to lose adhesion so you can take appropriate action. If you don't, and have left the ESP on, then the system will do it for you.

And it manages all this with impressive seat and rid comfort, despite 215/50 R17 tyres (I don't recommend going up to 18"). Our test route managed to throw up a stretch of urban road that somehow contrived to be worse than anything in the most socialist of London boroughs.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.8 37–44 mpg 10.7–11.7 s 155–184 g/km
2.0 35–41 mpg 9.9–10.4 s 159–191 g/km
2.0 Automatic 37–37 mpg 11.2–11.3 s 176–178 g/km
2.0 D 46–50 mpg 9.5–10.9 s 147–167 g/km
2.2 D 50–54 mpg 8.3–10.9 s 133–152 g/km
2.2 D 163 51–52 mpg 9.2 s 140–147 g/km
2.3 33 mpg 9.0 s 207 g/km
2.3 DISI Turbo 28 mpg 6.6 s 245 g/km
2.5 34–35 mpg 8.0–8.4 s 186–193 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

19–56 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mazda 6 (2008 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

I only do short drives - can I take precautions to stop DPF issues with my Mazda 6?

I've been reading some of the problems Mazda 6 owners have with DPFs. My Mazda 6 now has 93,000 miles on the clock, it had 90,000 when I bought it. I mostly do short runs (less than 15 miles). What should I look out for? Is there anything I can do before switching my engine off to stop DPF trouble in future?
This is far from ideal use of a diesel with a DPF. Precautions you can take are to change the engine oil and filter every 7000 miles. Take the car on as many distance runs as you possibly can. Whenever you stop the car, open the driver's door. If you are aware of heat under the car, that is the DPF actively regenerating and you need to drive the car for another 5 - 10 miles to ensure regeneration is completed. if you don't, fuel injected into the engine to promote regeneration will sink into the sump oil, contaminating it. Check the cold engine oil level regularly, at least every week, and if you notice it starting to rise you need to get the oil and filter changed.
Answered by Honest John
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