- Excellent driving nature
- Superb interior quality
- More practical than a CX-5
- Value equation could be better
- Fuel economy can be scary
- Boot could be larger
Thanks largely to the SUV, station wagons have all but ceased to exist in the driveways of Australians. Once upon a time, the traditional family car was a Camry, Commodore or Falcon, but everywhere you go now, it’s a mid-size SUV like the RAV4 or CX-5. Those in the motoring journalist sphere would infinitely prefer a wagon to an SUV – and we’re seemingly almost the only ones – for a variety of reasons, but why is that? We tested the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP wagon to find out why wagons make such excellent family vehicles.
The GT SP variant that we tested of the Mazda6 range is a new addition and is positioned as a sportier appearance model in the 6 range and it comes with a few differences in styling such as black wheels and mirror caps. Like the GT it replaced, it’s exclusively available with the 2.5-litre turbocharged engine that Mazda puts in its SUV range. Rivals to the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP include the Volkswagen Passat wagon, Skoda Superb wagon and the Peugeot 508 wagon.
Price & Specs: 7.5/10
The Mazda6 wagon range kicks off with the entry-level Sport ($35,890 plus on-road costs – around $40,000 drive away, depending on your location) and mid-spec Touring ($40,190 +ORC), which makes it one of the most affordable mid-size wagons on the market today. Above the entry models is the GT SP that we tested, which is priced at $47,990 (+ORC), and the top-spec Mazda6 Atenza wagon asks $51,390 +ORC.
Despite not being at the top of the range, the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP wagon comes relatively well equipped with black 19-inch alloy wheels, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with satellite navigation, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, an 11-speaker Bose audio system, keyless entry with push button start, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated and auto-folding exterior mirrors, Burgundy-coloured leather upholstery, electric front seats with memory settings for the driver, heated front and outboard rear seats and dual-zone climate control with rear air vents.
In terms of safety kit, the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP comes with six airbags, high and low speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, rear AEB, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, auto high beam, a heads-up display, driver attention detection and front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera.
There are eight colours available on the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP wagon. The standard colours available are ‘Jet Black’, ‘Blue Reflex’, ‘Deep Crystal Blue’, ‘Sonic Silver’ and ‘Snowflake White Pearl’. The remaining three colours are metallic and come at an additional $495 cost. They include ‘Soul Red Crystal’, ‘Machine Grey’ and our test car’s ‘Polymetal Grey’.
The GT SP is reasonable value for money, but we think not spending the extra $3,400 for the top-spec Mazda6 Atenza is stupid as it gets you a sunroof, Matrix adaptive high beam functionality for the headlights, a frameless rear view mirror, a heated steering wheel, a digital driver’s display, Nappa leather upholstery in either dark brown or white, wood and suede interior trimmings, a heated steering wheel, cooled front seats and a 360-degree parking camera.
But the Mazda6 range does make its European competitors look expensive – the Volkswagen Passat 162TSI Elegance wagon is priced from $54,890 plus on-road costs, which is $6,900 more than the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP. The Passat gains three extra airbags (for a total of nine), an alarm, a 360-degree camera, automated parking, a full-size spare wheel, a power tailgate, a digital drivers display and cooled seats over the Mazda – but still costs more than the 6 Atenza. The Skoda Superb 162TSI Style wagon (the Passat’s cousin) is $56,990 drive away and the Peugeot 508 Wagon is $58,990 plus on-road costs – a full $11,000 more expensive than the Mazda.
Performance & Economy: 8/10
While the entry-level Mazda6 Sport and Touring use a 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine, the GT SP and Atenza add a turbocharger to the mix. The 2021 Mazda6 GT SP comes with Mazda’s familiar 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is also seen in other models such as the Mazda CX-5 and CX-9. It produces 170kW of power and 420Nm of torque in this tune, which is noticeably more than the naturally aspirated engine and its competitors – the 162TSI engine in the Passat and Superb produces 8kW less power and a full 70Nm less torque.
Paired to the 2.5-litre turbo engine in the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP wagon is a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission that matches well to the engine. The shifts between gears are smooth and fluid and the transmission also aids in shifting low in the rev range to conserve fuel. The gearbox’s sport mode holds gears for longer and will aggressively downshift by itself, but for those wanting more, there are also paddle shifters to select the gears yourself. Mazda’s manual mode is actually quite responsive, unlike a lot of other brands’ equivalents, and it’s possible to have a lot of fun behind the wheel.
While the engine is a little on the noisier side, it is quite powerful in its class – especially with the full 420Nm onboard. When stomping your foot on the accelerator pedal, the Mazda6 will zoom (pun intended) off in whatever direction the wheels are facing. Mazda doesn’t claim a 0-100km/h sprint time, but overseas reports indicate that around the 6.5-second mark, which feels accurate from behind the wheel.
The claimed average fuel consumption for the Mazda6 GT SP wagon is 7.6L/100km. Our week spent with the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP Wagon with a mixture of highway and urban driving saw an average fuel consumption figure of 9.4L/100km, which is not great but it is a fun engine to work with. We do miss the 140kW/450Nm 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel offered in the 6 – it’s now only offered in the CX-5 and CX-8 in Australia. The Passat and Superb both use 7.2L/100km of premium unleaded, which is just less than the Mazda – though it can run on regular unleaded, though using the good stuff increases its outputs to 184kW.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
The Mazda6 has always been a car that has been more fun and dynamic than its rivals, and this generation of the car – despite being almost eight years old now – is no different. The way the Mazda6 rides puts supposedly ‘sporty’ SUVs like the Volkswagen Tiguan 162TSI R-Line to shame thanks to its excellent dynamics, good balance and excellent fun factor from behind the wheel. Because it weighs less than an SUV and therefore doesn’t need to have such a stiff ride to balance out the weight, the Mazda6 rides very well.
The large 19-inch alloy wheels paired with the sporty suspension tune means the Mazda6 handles its own when thrown into corners, but it also rides quite well (despite not having adaptive dampers). There is slight body roll but this is to be expected with a family-focused vehicle capable of doing the school run and comfortably transporting the in-laws. The steering is suitably meaty and the only negative is slightly higher road noise levels, though still nothing like the noise experienced when this generation Mazda6 was released. The safety tech on the Mazda6 is very unintrusive – the lane departure warning is very subtle and will just make sure to keep you in your lane without being jerky or pulling the car too hard to one direction.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
The 2021 Mazda6 GT SP wagon has an interior that will be very familiar if you are coming from any previous or current model Mazda product. The design is very typically Mazda with the screen sitting a top the dash and a curvy looking dash below it. Sitting in the drivers seat you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a much more expensive car than you are actually in. The materials and quality of materials used in the cabin are very good and rival cars nearly double its price with soft touch materials everywhere, tactile switchgear and a quality feeling.
The steering wheel is a joy to hold and operate as the leather quality is excellent and feels very soft but also quite durable. The steering wheel controls are placed perfectly for your fingers to just reach over without interrupting the steering experience. The leather seats are also the same excellent quality leather and though the burgundy colour isn’t to everybody’s tastes, it does help to lighten up the otherwise dark and black cabin of the Mazda6.
In terms of practicality, the cabin of the Mazda6 has plenty of storage. There is a small storage container on the lower dashboard by the driver’s right leg, two cupholders in the centre console with a sliding lid, a place in front of the gear selector to store a phone or a wallet (though not a wireless charger), deep door pockets, a large centre console with a raised portion and a generous glovebox.
The 8.0-inch infotainment screen can be operated by touch when the car is stationary or by the dial in the centre console while moving. The infotainment system used in the Mazda6 is known as ‘MZD Connect’ and is Mazda’s old operating system. It is acceptable but starting to get a little old and clunky. We wish Mazda gave the 6 wagon their new infotainment system seen in the Mazda3 and CX-9.
The rear seat room in the back of the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP is more than adequate, though a Skoda Superb wagon is far larger. In the 6, there is enough room for two adults or three kids with adequate leg, shoulder and head room. It’s well featured too with heated seats, rear vents, a centre armrest with cupholders and charging ports and two map pockets in the back of the front seats.
Opening the tailgate of the Mazda6 wagon (which you have to do manually as there is no power tailgate) reveals 506-litres of cargo space with the rear seats in place. There is an innovative cargo cover that attaches to the tailgate itself, meaning there is no blind to move when you want to get things out of the boot. There is also levers in the boot to fold down the rear seats, which opens up 1,648L of space. In comparison, the Volkswagen Passat wagon has 650-litres of cargo space with the rear seats in place and 1,780-litres with them folded down, which is a significant increase over the Mazda, but the Mazda is hardly small and compared with the best-selling CX-5, the Mazda6 wagon holds 64L with the seats up and a huge 306L with the seats folded more stuff.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
As with all Mazda products in Australia the 2021 Mazda6 GT SP wagon comes with the brand’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, which is the same length of warranty that Peugeot, Skoda and Volkswagen offer. The Mazda6 also comes with five years of roadside assistance, as does the Peugeot 508, though Volkswagen and Skoda only offer a single year at the time of purchase. The 2021 Mazda6 GT SP wagon requires being serviced every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first, and that’s 5,000km less than the Superb and Passat, and 10,000km less (or half) than the Peugeot.
It costs $1,805 to service the Mazda6 over five years ($361 per service), which sounds reasonable, but it’s only to 50,000km and owners travelling more distance will have to pay more. The Volkswagen Passat 162TSI will set owners back a huge $3,191 over the span of five years/75,000km ($638.20 per service) and the Skoda Superb 162TSI costs $2,829 to service over the same duration ($565.80 per service) – both cars can be had with service packages from purchase to lessen this. The Mazda seems like good value here when it comes to servicing, but keep in mind that the service intervals are lesser to its European counterparts.
2021 Mazda6 GT SP Wagon DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.1/10
Despite being comprehensively outsold by SUVs, wagons are still excellent options for new car motoring thanks to their space and practicality but – unlike a lot of SUVs – their excellent driving dynamics and comfort, and we think that despite its age, the Mazda6 wagon is still a great option in the mid-size wagon segment. It’s great to drive, very well made, reasonable value for money, practical, spacious and – in our opinion – pretty handsome as well.
We wouldn’t buy the GT SP variant of the Mazda6 range that we tested, though, as for not much more money, the top-spec Atenza offers an even higher-quality cabin while also offering keen dynamics and a more stylish exterior treatment without the black wheels and mirror caps. In Atenza guise, the Mazda6 wagon is comfortably better value for money than its German, Czech and French competitors – let alone the whole mid-size SUV segment. While it’s getting on in years, the Mazda6 is a great wagon option that has never been better.