The Mazda6 is a tough car to get a handle on. Why? Because it seems to change its look, its feel and its personality quite markedly from one generation to the next. There's no common theme running through the car's development cycle, with each successive model seemingly conceived by a completely different set of engineers and designers to those that worked on the previous car.
As is the case for any such vehicle like this – and Mazda isn't alone in this characteristic – there are good and not so good Mazda6 vintages. The improved MK2 model introduced in 2010 and continuing on sale until the end of 2012 was one of the better iterations. Here's what to look for if you're interested in grabbing a used bargain. Mazda has a strong reputation for reliability and the Mazda6 should prove a durable companion. Some of the minor interior plastics aren't of the highest quality, so check for wear and tear in out of sight areas.
Make sure the diesels start relatively crisply and don't suffer from lazy glow plugs.
The 'zoom-zoom' advertising catchline isn't just a slogan: this genuinely is a family car you can really look forward to driving, agile and grippy with a sharp electric steering set-up from Mazda's RX-8 sports car and a precise five or six-speed manual gearbox, plus large brakes.
Mazda has developed a direct injection 155PS 2.0-litre DISI petrol unit to slot in below the minority interest 170PS 2.5-litre petrol variant but most buyers will want one of the 2.2-litre diesels with their prodigious pulling power, even in entry-level 129PS guise. The top 180PS model now has a smaller turbo for greater efficiency, but is still impressively torquey, though not noticeably more than the 163PS version that most buyers choose, capable of 0-60mph in 9.2s on the way to a maximum of 132mph. It's usually good form to wait, if you can, for the facelifted version of a car to be launched before buying. Of course, it helps if the styling isn't ruined by heavy-handed designers, but fortunately the facelifted version of the MK2 Mazda6 escaped that particular affliction. The changes turned what was already a good car into a more expressive, confident and talented contender.
Not enough to significantly boost sales though, new car buyers in the 2010 to 2012 period perhaps finding it difficult to forget the rather anonymous original MK2 model that the car we've been looking at here is based upon. Still, that's good news for the clued-in used buyer, who can benefit from the general public's lazy apathy. There are used bargains in this range from top to bottom. Get 'em while the getting's good.