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A sleek and powerful ride in the Mazda6

I recently had the good fortune to be handed the keys to Mazda’s flagship executive saloon, the Platinum edition Mazda6 (€41,545). The Platinum edition sits at the top of the Mazda6 range, taking on the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo, while also keeping BMW, Mercedes and Audi firmly in its sights. At first glance the sleek lines of the Mazda6 reminded me of a fast-moving aquatic predator and once I got behind the wheel the car proved itself to be a terrifically built machine with an effortlessly smooth ride, despite being fitted with a diesel engine. The motor was powerful, responsive and frugal, though a little rural sounding and limited in its rev range, as all diesels are. According to Mazda, their 2.2 Skyactiv engine has the world’s lowest diesel-engine compression ratio, with high torque, clean emissions and improved fuel economy. As the world has gone SUV crazy it was nice to be back behind the wheel of a well set up saloon car and Mazda know better than most how best to meld a driver with their car. In fact, the Japanese term for the unity of horse and rider, Jinba ittai, is something they bang on about all the time, especially when discussing their incredible little MX5. This unity between driver and machine extends on to the Mazda6, as you feel connected to the vehicle, like part of the process, not just a biological mound along for the ride. The interior is plush, spacious and beautifully finished in not very practical, but very pretty, cream leather. You would get a small yacht into the boot and there is enough room to host the Eurovision on the back seat. The car feels well-built, especially for a Japanese vehicle, and judging from the amount of older Maz- da6’s I’ve since noticed on the road, it has quite a long lifespan.

I took the car from Dublin to Wexford for the weekend and it proved itself to be both capable on the back roads and a comfortable motorway cruiser. The cruise control and automatic gearbox were simply magic on the dual carriageway, while the sharp handling and responsive throttle were key while negotiating winding, country roads. However, I did find the automatic headlights a little dim-witted and promptly reverted back to manual control.

The car has a heads up display which lets you know what the speed limit is thanks to its traffic sign recognition capabilities, which is just part of the myriad of tech stuffed into this car. The Mazda6 has active blind spot monitoring, which warns

the driver of a vehicle entering a detection zone situated up to 50 meters behind, by activating a door mirror-mounted warning light on the relevant side of the vehicle. It also has adaptive LED headlights and radar-guided cruise control, which uses a millimetre wave radar to judge the relative speed and distance to the car ahead and automatically controls vehicle speed. Along with these systems the car has lane-keep assist, which is designed to prevent your vehicle from inadvertently straying from its lane, by vibrating the wheel and beeping if you cross the white line. The car will also take corrective action to help you stay within the lanes through assisted steering. Finally, the Mazda6 Platinum has an advanced smart city brake support system, which monitors the distance to the vehicle ahead, at running speeds up to 80km/h. If the system recog- nises a risk of collision, it will apply the brakes automatically.

The Soul Red Mazda6 I had produced 175bhp and 127g of CO2, putting it in the €270 road tax bracket. It had a seven inch colour touch-screen display and multimedia commander, a Bose sound system with 11 speakers, integrated sat-nav, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, to name a few of the extras.

You can pick up a new Mazda6 for €29,295, however, I’m not a fan of entry level cars; as far as I’m concerned if you need to purchase the bottom of the line then you simply can’t afford the car. You are sentencing yourself to a life of wondering what those buttons below the radio unit would have controlled, a world where you’ve paid for the new registration plate, instead of the best car available.

However, if you are thinking about a saloon, you would be insane not to consider the Mazda6 Platinum, especially if you are someone who understands the difference between a well set up, brilliantly handling car and a run-of-the-mill sedan.

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