RE: Unforced induction into wagon theory | PH Footnote

RE: Unforced induction into wagon theory | PH Footnote

Saturday 17th September

Unforced induction into wagon theory | PH Footnote

Bring back simple, practical estate cars instead of SUVs - just don't make them naturally aspirated...


I love an estate. Now, though this might not be everyone’s attitude, I am fairly sure it’s not just me that sees big wagons as the enthusiast’s kind of car. They don’t have to have big V8s to get some love, either. There’s something about just a regular family estate that creates a warm glow, whatever the engine. Perhaps that's because many of us, as kids, spent many happy miles in the back seat of one (or even the back of one, face pressed up against the rear window waving at the car behind if you’re as old as me). They were the days before health and safety, of course.

Estate cars also look great. And with its Kodo design coated in Polymetal Metallic, this Mazda 6 Tourer looks bloody sexy, don’t you think? It manages to be swoopy yet classy and modern yet classic, all at the same time. It’s a car I look forward to getting into, because it’s so gratifying to look at when I'm walking up to it. And here’s another thing that should endear it to the hearts and minds of PHers: being a Mazda, it’s served up with natural aspiration and a manual gearbox. Plus, on the options list (and I quote) there is a £462.97 Lowering Suspension Kit. Now that’s not an option you see on most cars, but then Mazda isn’t like most manufacturers. It goes about things differently, which is why it’s a manufacturer to admire.

Should you buy one, though? After all, there’s got to be more than emotion, style and difference involved in the buying decision of what’s essentially a practical family car. That’s the question I pondered when the Mazda 6 Tourer arrived the other day.

Well, let’s start with its practicality. It has plenty of it. Under those curvaceous lines, the 6 Tourer is a big old bus. It’ll seat four, six-foot adults easily, and I mean easily. That doesn’t involve breathing in and a bout of cramp two miles in. It’ll manage to get everyone on board with head and legroom to spare. Maybe not with quite as much left over as there would be in a Skoda Superb, but not far off it. The same goes for the all-important boot. Open the tailgate and it reveals enough space for an echo - or to make that appraisal more technical, 522 litres of load space. Again, not Superb superb, but still… splendid.

Brilliant, it clears the first bar easily, and arguably it’s the most important one for a wagon: it’s a good estate car. But it’s also a lovely car to be in. Now, let me begin by telling you how much it costs for context. This car is not the cheapest version of the 6 Tourer you can buy. That would the £27,000 145hp SE-L; this one is a Sport. It has a 165hp engine and lots of lovely features: chrome-finished 19-inch alloys, a head-up display, privacy glass, a heated steering wheel and an 11-speaker Bose sound system. It isn’t basic, then, and yet it costs just £30,000. A Skoda Superb Estate SE L 1.5 TSI isn’t as well kitted out as that, and yet it costs over £2,500 more. 

So the obvious conclusion, then, is that the Mazda 6 will be built like a Big Mac – you know, with half its innards falling on the floor when you open the door – using materials that have a similar sell-by date as a burger. But no. I have long held the view that the Mazda 6 should be seen not in the same league as a Skoda Superb (I love Superbs, by the way, so don’t think I am slapping them down) and Volkswagen Passat. It’s just too classy. This would do well in a consumer test against a BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, as long as you covered up the badges. It would be considered finished well for a £50k car, but at £30k, you can’t help thinking Mazda’s accountants need new calculators. True, the metal bits aren’t actually metal, but they’re a good substitute. And no, that’s not stitched leather adorning the dashboard, but it's a nice-looking plastic alternative. So does that matter? Nope, not a jot. It looks expensive, and so do the knurled knobs, which work with a satisfying click. Even the instruments manage to look expensive with their gunmetal hue. Like the exterior, it's elegant inside as well. It’s not a copy of the modern breed of German car, full of angry, sharp lines and jutting ledges. It’s graceful, tasteful, charming and calming to be in.

Comfortable, too. The seats have a real forgiving squidge but still hold you in place well. The driving position is great – albeit I couldn’t get the seat squab quite flat enough for my liking, but I got used to that. And look at the steering wheel, Mr BMW boss. It isn’t the girth and consistency of something in the Ann Summers catalogue. It’s thin and not too squishy, like steering wheels should be. Now here's something for Mr VW boss to ponder as well: look at the buttons on the steering wheel. Steering wheels move, which means you're always moving your hands around them. And the 6 Tourer doesn’t have stupid, touch-sensitive buttons that are easy to press by mistake like VW has introduced. Mazda let a sensible person design them. In fact, that sums up the usability of this car: sensible. It’s intuitive, easy to understand and operate. That includes the i-Drive-style infotainment; although I must say, the software is feeling a bit slow these days and the screen's a tad fuzzy. When the reverse camera comes on it looks like someone’s smeared Vaseline over the lens for that sultry, ‘80s porn look.  

It's also comfortable in the way it rides. It’s not crashy or uncontrolled, so it doesn’t lummox about over potholes, but it’s still got some give in the springs to give it a plush-feeling float at times. It does very little wrong, actually, which is surprising considering the size of the wheels it’s on. Other than some secondary niggle on the specific stretches of motorway, it's really cosseting. By the way, I am not a complete Mazda fanboy. I don’t think that because Mazda builds an MX-5 that everything it builds is sporty. I’ve driven plenty of modern Mazdas that have less bite than a gummy pensioner at the front end. This one isn’t like that, though. I don’t think it’s the greatest handling estate car I’ve driven, but it’s well above average. The steering is very manageable and easy to gel with. It generates a little bit of feel from the road surface and it’s also adroitly weighted. It’s nice. As is the 6’s grip and composure, plus the brakes aren't just effective but easy to administer.

The clutch isn’t. I don’t know what it is about Mazdas, but its modern flock never seems to give any sense of the bite point. It’s not a major blight, but it does take the edge off proceedings. Then there’s the engine. Now, this should be one of the best bits. One of the things that has me telling you to go out, right now, and “Buy this car!” It’s naturally aspirated, remember, which means it must be brilliant. Well, it just isn’t. Like all these automotive tropes – hydraulic steering, manual gearboxes etc. – they have to actually be good to have worth. There’s no point in having them if they detract from the experience. And, sadly, the Mazda’s venerable engine does.

It would be much better if it was turbocharged. The engine has less 'torque' than an unconscious mute. And where’s the power? It might say 165hp on the box – and I am sure it’s in there, somewhere – but there’s no crescendo, no verve. No nothing. The rev-counter needle’s progress around that pretty dial is always long and drawn out. The car will still move along at a reasonable pace, mind, and its claimed acceleration of 9.4 seconds is not in doubt, but you have to work the gear lever manically to achieve it. Luckily, the gear lever works beautifully. It has a short throw and a pleasantly meaty gate.

You know what, though? I would still recommend you buy, or at least try, a Mazda 6 Tourer. Despite the grumbles, it’s not just a car I get excited about looking at and walking up to. I enjoy driving it as well. It really is a very classy place to be and it’s so easy to use. It’s a refreshingly simple car compared with so many newer alternatives. Cars that feel like they’ve been designed by a focus group, populated by people who had a voice but nothing valuable to say. And then the results were given to a bunch of 'right-on' designers, who implemented all the senselessness without stopping to inject a scintilla of common sense. This car isn’t like that. Apart from Mazda’s somewhat baffling predilection for natural aspiration, it’s got common sense running through it like 'Blackpool' through a stick of rock.

There’s another reason why this car should not be forgotten. In a world where the environment is front and centre of our minds, why have we swapped estates for SUVs? Estates are just as practical but smaller and sleeker, which means they need less raw materials to build them. That's good for the environment. They’re also lighter and more aerodynamic, so they use less fuel. That's a good thing, too. Estates are a good idea, not just a pleasing memory. But sadly a dying breed, at least the ones that don’t have a posh badge. This is one of the last analogue wagons left in our digital, SUV-obsessed age, and that’s why you should give it the thumbs up. Or better still, buy one.


Specification | 2022 Mazda 6 Tourer 2.0 SKYACTIV-G 165

Engine: 1,998cc, four-cylinder, naturally aspirated
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 165 @ 6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 157 @ 4,000rpm
0-62mph: 9.4 seconds
Top speed: 133mph
Weight: 1,566kg (Inc. driver and fuel)
MPG: 41.5 (WLTP)
CO2: 155g/km (WLTP)

Author
Discussion

Honeywell

Original Poster:

1,109 posts

79 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
Great cars but yeah, we've all got used to turbocharged low down torque these days in both petrol and diesel (and EV or hybrid) and the Nazda engines do feel a little more gutless than we used to perceive.

Bloody reliable things though. Make great second hand buys in my experience. 200,000 miles is no problem.

blue al

655 posts

140 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
Please find a better engine and call me back….

needs at least 220 hp for that weight

xu5

394 posts

138 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
The lowering kit is most likely Eibach Pro springs, It was on the Mazda 2 and MX5 ND at least.

Kind of interesting as they must increase the wear rate of the standard shocks?

Nice car, I really like the style of this generation of Mazda. If it was your only car and you felt the need for more power then fair enough, but if I needed an estate it would be to ferry dogs or kids about so round about 100bhp/ton should suffice.

Edited by xu5 on Sunday 18th September 06:11


Edited by xu5 on Sunday 18th September 06:13

RedAndy

902 posts

135 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
Odd dash shape means left knee is forced inward - no splayed legs if you have big balls!

but its better than the superb as it actually handles. Superb is like all VAG range - dull to drive, but the Mazda is actually lively and likes being riven hard... (for a big estate car).


mersontheperson

380 posts

146 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
Strange that the article doesn’t mention that in Japan the car is offered with the 2.5 liter turbo with 230ps

So if you want a turbo estate you can have one

Edited by mersontheperson on Sunday 18th September 07:50

Evil.soup

3,058 posts

186 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
I have very recently picked up a 2010 Kia Ceed estate as I simply need an economical and practical daily workhorse so in not putting miles on the Subaru, but after just a short while of owning it, I am loving estate life.

The level of practicality you get from an estate is just out of this world and makes even large SUVs seem like an impractical choice.

When looking for an estate car, the top of my list was the Mazda 6 2.2D Sport, but they were disappointingly very rare.
I only found a couple within 150 miles of me and one had starship miles while the other was sold within a couple of days of appearing online. I did take a look at 2.0 petrol, but the tin worm had gotten hold it and the dealer had tried to hide it all with buckets of black sludge, so that was off the cards.

Even the older generation Mazda 6 is a lovely looking car and a nice place to be. The Ceed isn't anywhere as big as the Mazda, ut even so, it's far more practical than any large SUV I have had the use of. An estate car is a no brainer, but the soccer marms don't see them as cool I guess.

Personally, I love a wagon and always have done. The ceed is the first I have owned and it has already got me cruising the classifieds for a newer, cooler replacement.

Mouse Rat

1,480 posts

73 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
I have nothing to say other than Mazda interiors are fantastic.
Probably the best of any mainstream manufacturers I've been in within the last decade.

cerb4.5lee

23,920 posts

161 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
blue al said:
Please find a better engine and call me back….

needs at least 220 hp for that weight
I'm imagining this fully loaded up with 4 people and all their stuff going on holiday for example. It won't be much fun with that kerbweight and those bhp/torque figures that is for sure.

This will feel gutless to drive when it is empty...nevermind when it is carrying stuff. No thanks.

We all look back fondly at NA engines and manual gearboxes(a Pug 205 GTi 1.9 for example), but we forget that cars were so much lighter back then though. NA engines and manual gearboxes don't make anywhere near as much sense now as they did back then for me.

I feel like turbos are pretty much essential on cars now because they are so heavy. If I think back to my XR4x4s, they weighed around 1250kg, so you could arguably get away with only having small amounts of power(150bhp) from the NA engine mated to a manual gearbox.

The MX-5 deserves praise I think, because that is still a light car that works well with a NA engine and a manual gearbox even now.

mrclav

1,044 posts

204 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
mersontheperson said:
Strange that the article doesn’t mention that in Japan the car is offered with the 2.5 liter turbo with 230ps

So if you want a turbo estate you can have one

Edited by mersontheperson on Sunday 18th September 07:50
I guess that this being a UK site, talking about a Japan only model means UK readers can't have one if they want.

trashbat

5,713 posts

134 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
You can get a 2.5 NA engine in this country, which makes 194bhp, but inevitably it only comes on the highest, sportiest trim which might undermine some of the positives in this article. From other reviews it still doesn't sound like a great engine.

Richie111s

32 posts

153 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
I'm on my second, both 2.2D Tourers in Soul Red and they have been fantastic family cars, which are great to drive when it's just me in the car. My current one on a 68 plate has just clicked over 120,000 and feels like it will do the same again no problem.


Nimerino

256 posts

94 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
I’ve just had a look, and here in Sweden only the wagon, and only in the very lowest trim, is available with the 2.0. All other trims, as well as the sedan, are only available with the 192 hp 2.5. And top-spec sedans, which is what I’d buy, are the equivalent of about £30k. Seems excellent value, second-hand depreciation notwithstanding. They look fantastic.

My only gripe is that if you’re going to make an effort to appeal to the few people who might actually prefer an NA engine, why not offer a manual as well? The automatic is wasted on these, though I understand I don’t represent the vast majority of the buying public.

Jon_S_Rally

2,276 posts

69 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
The Mazda 6 is a great looking car, and I do think it's a shame that the estate is dying off in favour of lumpen SUVs and crossovers that offer little real benefit for most buyers.

This reminds me of a Vectra I owned some years ago. It was an SRI XP, so it looked smart enough, but it had the 2.2 petrol engine in it, which just wasn't really suited to it in reality. It wasn't that economical, but wasn't very grunty either. I can't complain, as the car was cheap enough, but it always felt like it was really let down by having that engine in it. The 2.2 diesel version of the Mazda that someone has posted above is much better, just as my Vectra would have been if it had come with a turbo diesel lump.

I love a good normally aspirated car, but really only for fun driving. For daily duties, especially if it's a load lugger, turbocharged torque - whether it's petrol or diesel - just makes life loads easier.

Baldchap

5,733 posts

73 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
I own a 145bhp N/A 2.0 car (that is a lot lighter than this Mazda) and it either needs thrashing or you go everywhere slowly.

Decent modern turbocharged engines don't have the lag and slow throttle response of old (note, I said decent ones). N/A is a bit of an anachronism to me in a car like this.

Get this loaded up with kids and luggage and I'll bet you're changing into third for steep hills.

Edited by Baldchap on Sunday 18th September 09:33

cerb4.5lee

23,920 posts

161 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
Baldchap said:
I own a 145bhp N/A 2.0 car (that is a lot lighter than this Mazda) and it either needs thrashing or you go everywhere slowly.

Decent modern turbocharged engines don't have the lag and slow throttle response of old (note, I said decent ones). N/A is a bit of an anachronism to me in a car like this.

Get this loaded up with kids and luggage and I'll bet you're changing into third for steep hills.
It is pleasing to know that I'm not just the only one to think exactly like this. smile

Your last sentence is spot on too.

mersontheperson

380 posts

146 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
mrclav said:
mersontheperson said:
Strange that the article doesn’t mention that in Japan the car is offered with the 2.5 liter turbo with 230ps

So if you want a turbo estate you can have one

Edited by mersontheperson on Sunday 18th September 07:50
I guess that this being a UK site, talking about a Japan only model means UK readers can't have one if they want.
You can’t get a Corolla GR either, but there is articles about that car and loads of others that you can’t buy in the UK.
I think it’s completely relevant to the story of the weakness of a car is an engine option that doesn’t exist here but does in other markets, especially RHD markets

otolith

49,244 posts

185 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
I have a strong preference for naturally aspirated manuals. In sports cars. In a barge, I want an automatic. And either more capacity than this or forced induction.

Mr-B

3,311 posts

175 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
Mouse Rat said:
I have nothing to say other than Mazda interiors are fantastic.
Probably the best of any mainstream manufacturers I've been in within the last decade.
+1

I have a ND MX5 and they have got the physical button to screen use ratio just right.

I have just come from reading the EV6/Polestar comparison and this for £30k or one of those EVs for knocking on for £50k, wow, bargain of the century. Both of those EVs were ENTRY level models too, crazy to think the base model of a car is 2 times average salary, I am old enough to remember when a bank wouldn't lend you more than 3x your salary to buy a house.

martin12345

353 posts

70 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
I think as well as the fact that modern cars are heavy, there is a 2nd reason why the rare modern NA's do not feel as good as they did in memories - in essence, less response

In order to minimise CO2 and noxious tail pipe emissions, modern NA's have both very high compression ratio's with 95RON fuel (retarded ignition), the use of EGR in some cases and electronic throttle (can slow down the throttle request from what the driver does with their foot to what the engine is asked to do). The combination of these means that the response of the engines is measurably delayed and also the feel of crispness is worse. I have in the past few years driven both the last SSS NA and also a GT86. Neither were are good as I had hoped in terms of "NA feel" and whilst both were fun cars it was in some ways despite their engines rather than because of (which I had hoped). In reviews I often see this being blamed on "heavy flywheels" which is not the real cause, just what it feels like. Apparently "chilling" the SSS can return the crisp response which proves it is the tuning of the throttle in it's case which is the primary cause.

I went from the SSS to a 4 cyl FST and to my suprise I thought the FST had better iniital throttle response (direct injection helping possibly) and also rev'd nearly as high and if anything sounded better at high RPM All round with the addition of a lot of torque the FST engine was better in pretty much every (and only about 10% fuel economy worse if driven sensibly on my commute)

For the absolute best NA experience, there is no doubt in my mind that any engine with port throttles is the place to go. My memories of various M cars I have had the pleasure of driving (not owned sadly) are that the 6's and 8's with port throttles are just such a joy with their near immeadiate response and great sound track.

In reality now, the "joyous" NA engine is a thing of the past with the exception of exotica from Porsche and others where they can afford to solve the tail pipe emissions with other (expensive solutions) and "dont care" about CO2 emissions as they either pay the fines or sell a bunch of electric cars to offset the fuel economy of the exotic ICE cars.

Personally I am sticking to my motorbikes as they really do have responsive NA engines (with port throttles of course )

satfinal

2,152 posts

143 months

Sunday 18th September
quotequote all
Number 1 rule of estate design, do not do this



Do this (flat opening to the boot, and more square opening)