The Mazda 6 range launched in Australia 20 years ago, and the current-generation model has been around for more than half of that time.
Having debuted late in 2012, the Mazda 6 sedan and wagon line-up remains an attractive proposition – quite literally – for buyers who are looking for a car, not an SUV or ute.
And with this subtle update to the ageing range, the brand has added a flagship 20th Anniversary Edition which has a few fancy flourishes, including the eye-catching new Artisan Red paintwork at no extra cost. That hue is exclusive to the top-spec 6, but you’ll be seeing more of it soon as it’s the hero colour for the new flagship CX-90.
The Mazda 6 likely isn’t long for this world, given it’s so long in the tooth, but it still offers quite a lot for buyers who are after this sort of car – keep reading to find out all the details.
The 2023 Mazda 6 range consists of five grades, each with the choice of sedan or wagon, and frankly it’s amazing that the brand can justify such complexity for such a niche model in 2023 and beyond.
I’m no product planner, but I reckon they could easily trim it back to two grades and still easily meet the demands of the market.
Pricing ranges from $35,540 to $54,395 before on-road costs – meaning competitors are pretty few and far between.
If you’re okay with a sedan, the Toyota Camry – which is still one of the best sedans you can get – starts at $32,490 and tops out at $48,490, and it comes with hybrid power available across the majority of the line-up.
And if that’s not quite your style, then there is the Skoda Octavia, which can be had as a sedan or wagon, with pricing starting at $39,290 for the 110TSI Style sedan and topping out with the popular RS wagon variant, at $53,090.
2023 Mazda 6 pricing:
- 2023 Mazda 6 G25 Sport Sedan: $35,540 (+$300)
- 2023 Mazda 6 G25 Sport Wagon: $36,840 (+$300)
- 2023 Mazda 6 G25 Touring Sedan: $40,210 (+$570)
- 2023 Mazda 6 G25 Touring Wagon: $41,510 (+$570)
- 2023 Mazda 6 G35 GT SP Sedan: $48,440 (+$1000)
- 2023 Mazda 6 G35 GT SP Wagon: $49,470 (+$1000)
- 2023 Mazda 6 G35 Atenza Sedan: $51,840 (+$1000)
- 2023 Mazda 6 G35 Atenza Wagon: $53,140 (+$1000)
- 2023 Mazda 6 20th Anniversary Sedan: $53,635 (NEW)
- 2023 Mazda 6 20th Anniversary Wagon: $54,935 (NEW)
Prices exclude on-road costs
Expecting big changes? Sorry. Not here, champion.
Well, that is unless you’re sitting in the 20th Anniversary model, which does have a number of new trim elements that might appeal to some buyers, but I found them a bit, er, senior. That fits with the “Mature Elegance” design concept for the Mazda 6 special, but like I said, it won’t be to all tastes.
Those trim changes include the tan Nappa leather seat trim, Leganu synthetic suede across the dashboard and on the doors, tan-coloured interior stitching and timber-look inserts in the instrument panel.
In combination with the embossed headrests, it gives the impression that this car is designed to appeal to a very specific customer. Probably a white dude who likes to play golf, who thinks he’s too clever to buy a ‘real’ luxury sedan.
I spent most of my time in the G35 GT SP, which now has burgundy leather trim that looks great, and has nice soft-touch finishes that are a bit more, let’s say, youthful.
Either way, one thing that is mature is the media system, which is the old MZD Connect unit from, well, a decade ago, but it has got some decent connectivity options including wireless and wired Apple CarPlay (wired only for G25 Sport), and wired Android Auto.
It has that old-school approach from Mazda which meant that, at a standstill, you could use the screen as a touchscreen, which is useful for smartphone mirroring.
But if you’re driving, controls must be done using the rotary dial or voice commands. There are some shortcut buttons near the controller to jump between menus, but it still isn’t as simple as it should be.
However, I’m a fan of the other manual controls for the climate system and media unit, which are so much better than everything having to be routed through a screen as is the case in many other cars these days.
As for storage, there are cup holders between the seats, a small centre console box with two USB ports, bottle holders in the doors and – in all but the base grade – there’s a wireless phone charger, too.
As for rear seat space and comfort, the sedan remains a slightly more pleasant choice for legroom, but models with the sunroof (Atenza and 20th Anniversary) have a bit less headroom in the back.
The wagon’s shorter wheelbase does play a part in back seat space for adults, with a smidge less on offer, but it has a slightly more airy feeling thanks to its less-sloped roofline.
There are rear air vents in all grades, map pockets on the seatbacks, and bottle holders in the doors. Plus all versions have a fold-down armrest with two more USB charge points, plus in the high-grade models there are outboard seat heater buttons in that drop-down, along with cup holders.
The back row features ISOFIX child seat anchors in the window seats and three top-tether points, too.
When it comes to boot space, the more practical choice will be the wagon. It offers a bigger opening for loading items in, and a bit more cargo capacity to boot.
Mazda claims the boot volume is 506 litres, versus 474L in the sedan (which has a good-sized opening that is no doubt designed to easily accommodate easy loading for a set of golf clubs). Fold down the 60:40 split-fold seats and you open up 1648L of cargo space.
All grades have a space-saver spare wheel fitted under the boot floor.
There is a choice of two engines for the 2023 Mazda 6 range, with the entry-level versions scoring the G25 atmo petrol, and high-spec models coming with the – ahem – much better G35 turbo petrol motor.
The G25 is a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 140kW of power (6000rpm) and 252Nm of torque (4000rpm).
The G35 is a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 173kW of power (4250rpm) and 420Nm of torque (2000rpm). For those playing along at home, you might notice that this engine has seen a 3kW bump, and Mazda claims its engineers “optimised engine control and turbocharger boost pressure” to eke out the extra power.
Both engine choices come exclusively with a six-speed automatic transmission and all Mazda 6 models in Australia are front-wheel drive.
Don’t go thinking you’ll be able to feel the extra three kilowatts when you drive the G35 model, but what you will feel is a pretty effortless and powerful engine doing its work.
The G35 mill is easily the pick of the pack here, with a pleasant willingness to rev and a good amount of low- to mid-range urge under throttle, too. Hit the Sport button, and it will genuinely push you back in your seat, with great acceleration response.
The six-speed automatic transmission does a good job of choosing gears for you, and it didn’t get it wrong once over a few hundred kays of driving in the turbo model at the launch event. The shifts are pretty quick and smooth too, even in Sport mode.
The Mazda 6 has always been a decent thing to drive, albeit with a firmer edge to its suspension that isn’t helped when you choose one of the higher-grade models on 19-inch wheels with low-profile tyres. Even so, it’s never clumsy or unpleasant, just a little busy.
The shorter wheelbase of the wagon does have a slight impact on its ride comfort, but it’s marginal.
Otherwise, road manners as we’ve come to expect from Mazda products of this vintage, with a pretty eager driving nature, with nice steering that offers a good amount of feel – though can exhibit some steering wheel kickback over mid-corner bumps.
It’s still a nice car to drive, though maybe starting to feel a little less impressive than it did in the early 20-teens, because there’s been a lot of progress made in terms of automotive dynamics since then.
There are some SUVs that have a bit more driving prowess than the 6 nowadays, but not the same sort of low-slung, sporty nature.
I didn’t get to drive a non-turbo model on the smaller wheel package, but if previous experience in a Sport grade is anything to go by – not to mention other experiences with the G25 powertrain I’ve had in CX-5 and CX-30 in recent times – then buyers who want the best engine will have to fork out for the G35.
The G25’s character is a bit more lethargic, and it has to rely on the transmission shifting gears a fair bit more for the best results.
However, I also recall the ride being a bit more cosseting… so, putting my product planning hat back on, a lower-spec model with the turbo engine would be nice.
Mazda 6 G25 Sport highlights:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Heated, power-adjustable mirrors
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Automatic LED headlights
- Automatic high-beam
- Cloth upholstery
- Keyless start
- 8.0-inch MZD Connect infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (wired)
- DAB+ digital radio
- Satellite navigation
- 6-speaker sound system
- Head-up display
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Tilt, telescopic steering wheel adjustment
- Paddle shifters
- Dual-zone climate control
- Electric parking brake with auto hold
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- 2 x 12V power outlets
- 3 x USB outlets
Mazda 6 G25 Touring adds:
- Auto-folding exterior mirrors
- LED daytime running lights
- Keyless entry
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- 11-speaker Bose premium sound
- Leather upholstery
- Power front seat adjusment
Mazda 6 G35 GT SP adds:
- Adaptive Front Lighting (active turning beam)
- Black 19-inch alloy wheels
- Heated front seats
- Heated rear outboard seats
- Burgundy leather upholstery
Mazda 6 G35 Atenza adds:
- Adaptive LED headlights incl. adaptive high-beam
- Bright-finish 19-inch alloy wheels
- Single-pane sunroof
- Heated steering wheel
- 7.0-inch digital instrument display
- Black Nappa leather upholstery
- Ventilated front seats
- Surround-view camera
- Traffic jam support
Mazda 6 20th Anniversary adds:
- 20th Anniversary logos
- Tan Nappa leather, synthetic suede upholstery
- Embossed 20th Anniversary headrest logos
- Rhodium White metallic or Artisan Red* paint
*Artisan Red exclusive to 20th Anniversary Edition
No-cost paint options for the main range include Sonic Silver metallic, Jet Black mica, Deep Crystal blue mica and Platinum Quartz metallic.
Choose any of the following metallic options and you’ll have to pay $795 extra: Rhodium White, Machine Grey, Polymetal Grey, Soul Red Crystal.
The updated Mazda 6 was put through ANCAP testing in 2018 and it achieved a five-star safety rating.
It scored of 95 per cent for adult occupant protection, 91 per cent for child occupant protection, 66 per cent for vulnerable road users and 73 per cent for safety assist.
There have been updates to the safety kit for 2023, but only very minor adjustments for high-spec models.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- AEB incl. pedestrian detection (forward)
- AEB in reverse
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Lane-keep assist
- Driver attention alert
- Traffic sign recognition
- Intelligent Speed Assistance
- Rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Tyre pressure monitoring
The base Sport misses out on front parking sensors which are standard on Touring and above.
The GT SP, Atenza and Anniversary models add Cruising and Traffic Support, which can basically act as a traffic jam assistant. Choose the range-topping Atenza or Anniversary model, and you get a surround-view camera, too.
Mazda offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty across its line-up in Australia, and there’s five years of roadside assistance included, too.
There’s also a capped-price servicing program that spans five years or 75,000km, meaning intervals are 12 months/15,000km – better than they once were (10,000km).
The average cost per service for the G25 models is $422, while the G35 versions are a bit more expensive to maintain, at $501.
Mazda 6 G25 models have an official combined cycle fuel use figure of 7.0L/100km, while G35 models use 7.6L/100km.
Over the launch drive of mainly country roads in rural Victoria, the trip computer of the G35 GT SP sedan was reading 9.4L/100km. Not much of a chance for the engine start-stop tech to do its thing over that loop.
All models have a 62-litre fuel tank and even the turbo models can run on 91 RON regular unleaded fuel.
There aren’t many other choices out there for this kind of money that look this good and drive as well as the Mazda 6.
And, while it is feeling its age in a few key ways – namely that old-school media system – it undeniably still has an important role to play for the brand in Australia.
For how long? Time will tell. But for those wanting a plush sedan or wagon that looks as good today as it did the day it launched – even if it has been 3818 days after the initial reviews came out.
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MORE: Everything Mazda 6