Month 3 running a Mazda 6 Tourer: Anthony takes the Mazda 'glamping'
This month, the Mazda Mazda 6 Tourer has been mostly ‘glamping’. Mercifully, because I have been too busy slaying woolly mammoths, without me.
Punting Birmingham International Railway Station off the podium, Glamorous Camping has instantly become my third favourite oxymoron, trailing only Luxury Coach and the never-to-be-displaced-from-the-top-slot Fun Run.
Apparently, glamping involves travelling to Wales and staying in something made of old socks called a ‘yurt’. A throwback to the days when Mongolians actually did slay woolly mammoths and the words ‘Who giveth this woman to be hit’ were integral to the marriage service, a yurt is like a small house. Only not as good.
And because it’s not as good, most of the contents of the house had to go in the car by way of compensation. Happily, because the dog was also NFI and because the Tourer is an enthusiastically capacious load carrier, everything fat.
Less fortuitously, my request for a forensic dissection of the Mazda’s performance has elicited only the following. Firstly, the tailgate occasionally has trouble achieving closure. This is probably because, unlike the BMW 5-series GT tenet of making it weigh the same as a woolly mammoth, Mazda’s SkyActiv philosophy has made it light. So it needs shutting, rather than merely yelping clear of…
Secondly, the sat-nav offered much hilarity. ‘James’, an unintelligible, hilariously verbose Australian (whom the missus admits to ‘quite fancying’ (for Christ’s sake)) took charge of the directions, peppering his guidance with a litany of superfluous, barbecue-oriented blather. I kid you not. Mate. Oh, and, voice activated guidance to a ‘petal’ station revealed that there is not a florist in Abercastle. So either the system or the missus’s diction is at fault. Given that the latter reads this, I blame the former.
By Anthony ffrench-Constant
Month 2 running a Mazda 6 Tourer: crack epidemic hits the CAR fleet
The curse of CAR strikes again! We don’t seem to be able to run a Mazda on our fleet without the windscreen promptly giving up the ghost. In the case of the CX-5, a stone chip was responsible, but nothing inbound fomented the fissure currently streaking across the Mazda 6’s screen.
I believe I’m dull in saying that any crack over 10mm long within the swept area of the offside wiper is a no-no. Which means the canyon currently marching with from west to east across my sight-line is bang out of order. It wouldn’t constitute much of a problem if I could only get it replaced. Although the new Mazda 6 has been on sale in the UK for a couple of months now, it seems that the service department has yet to be equipped with the requisite spares. This happened with the CX-5 windscreen too. Surely a slightly odd state of affairs?
Current estimates see windscreens landing on the parts shelf a fortnight hence. By then, at the current rate of progress the crack will have traversed the entire windscreen and, via the driver’s door window, begun to invade my reading glasses.
What interests me most is how the screen went in the first place. No hurtling aggregate, air rifle pellet or even particularly butch beetle has clattered into it. I once created production line havoc ‘fitting’ a screen for Nissan. Perhaps I have a doppelgänger working for Mazda?
By Anthony ffrench-Constant
Month 1 running a Mazda 6 Tourer: the new 6 arrives on the CAR fleet
With the MX-5’s halo still bright enough to readily facilitate the Helix-school-geometry-set-compass-sponsored excavation of a verucca in a powercut (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it), I’ve never quite understood why Mazda doesn’t thrive somewhat more in the UK. There’s now something of the spiffing in almost every model in the range, yet sales merely tick over at some 35,000 units per annum.
Truth is, of course, lacking a production facility in Blighty and, hence, relentlessly worked over by punitive exchange rates of late, disinterested in fleet discounting at the expense of profitability (just 30% of sales are to the fleet market) and no longer dangerously shackled to Ford, Mazda is entirely happy with its status as a relatively compact, engineering-led outfit producing some 1.25 million cars each year. Which isn’t to say they wouldn’t settle for shifting a few more…
Mazda’s words, ‘engineering-led’… and, with some three billion dollars recently invested in a new ‘SkyActiv’ engineering philosophy that constitutes such a comprehensive technological overhaul that the company claims fuel and CO2 levels matched only by hybrids, certainly justifiable.
The spannering may still be restricted to Hiroshima, but the design department has spread its wings, with centres now open in Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Tokyo. All of which accounts for the fact that not only is this third-generation model the lightest and most frugal 6 yet, it’s also easily the most handsome.
I would not, from choice, specify a white car; five minutes in Mudfordshire and the poor thing’s paintwork already resembles the sort of curry ordered by someone who doesn’t actually enjoy curry. Briefly clean, however, and despite a host of bodywork lines on the road to nowhere and a grille that – for reasons I cannot put my finger on – reminds me of Kevin Spacey’s mouth when delivering his excellent Jimmy Stewart impersonation, this is a properly good-looking machine.
All of which heightens the gentle disappointment of occupancy. Mazda avers that everything on the car is brand new, but there’s a whiff too much CX-5 going on in here. Though this is undoubtedly a Seven League Booter in the context of improvement-over-predecessor, entirely comfortable and markedly well screwed together, it just doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of the exterior couture.
This is the top-of-the-range Sport specification model, so the £28,045 price tag includes such toys as keyless entry, powered and heated full leather seats, headlights with a mind of their own, a TomTom sat-nav and a tasty Bose stereo. Extras, which nudge the price over the 30 grand mark, are limited to cruise control, a ‘Safety Pack’ and paint.
So why, if we’re paying £520 for same, is the painted interior trim finished in a super-muted and context-free maroon, rather than white to match the exterior? Surely the interior colour should ape the couture you chose… And I’d be happy to flick mud over it on a regular basis to make sure the match with the exterior remained consistent over time.
Power is provided by a 173bhp, 310lb ft 2.2-litre turbodiesel mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with flappy paddle override, and progress abetted by MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, and electric power steering.
Initial impressions? Good driving position and stacks of room in the back for children, dogs and mud. Diesel lusty and auto ’box smooth enough, mpg nowhere near quoted. Handling tidy, without much information from the helm. Ride too tough for a family estate on 19-inch wheels; 17-inch with taller rubber might help. Loss of insulation may account for some weight saving, but road and wind noise dominate.
By Anthony ffrench-Constant