I’ve just realised that I must have a fascination with Hatchbacks. All (five) vehicles that I have owned have been hatch backs. My latest addition (and currently owned mode of transport) is the 2010 Mazda 6 Sports Luxury Hatchback, which incidentally was also available as either a sedan or a station wagon. This is one of the very few cars in the Australian market where there is a variety of body styles available for a single model.
This was selected to be our family car. This choice of car totally bucks the current trend of preferred cars for the average Australian who has a fascination with SUV’s or recreational 4WD’s. These cars have one big advantage when compared to other cars – their higher ground clearance promotes ease of entry and egress, particularly for families with young children where lifting and placing the child into the car seat is a lot more convenient. A lesser advantage is the commanding view of the road. However, knowing a lot more about all other cars that are available and combining that with a clear definition of our requirements pretty much left us with only 3 or 4 options.
What were our key requirements for our new family car?
- Spacious inside to comfortably fit my 195cm frame with my children sitting at the car seats in the rear but at the same time no too big for my wife who has only ever driven a Mazda 121 and (now) a Mazda 2
- Big boot to fit what is typically carried on long road trips for a family of 4
- Nice looking (and by that I certainly did NOT want a car that looked anything like a family car i.e. a Honda Odyssey, Toyota Rav4, Holden Commodore Station Wagon etc.)
- Relatively cheap to run and maintain (for example, car is happy to consume 91 octane petrol)
- Maximum safety (5 star NCAP rating)
- Good Resale
- Luxury goodies inside
Our budget was around $45,000 (give or take a little here and there) and the projected ownership period is approximately 6 years.
What cars were on our short-list and why weren’t they selected?
- Honda Accord Euro Luxury
- Front seat passenger space was considerably less than the Mazda when driver’s seat is adjusted back to the maximum allowable distance (I actually felt cramped in the Honda whereas with the Mazda I felt comfortable and there was still more room to move back)
- Demands Premium Unleaded petrol
- Interior not as nice as Mazda (both design and materials used)
- Ford Mondeo XR5 Turbo
- Quality (lack of), and this came from a mate of mine who is a mechanic at Ford
- Projected Resale value
- Only came in manual transmission
- Demands Premium Unleaded Petrol
- Volkswagen Passat 118i TSI Station Wagon
- Base model a little too conservative inside
- Ticking all the (nice) options increases the price by approximately 50% (totally blows the budget)
- Also demands premium unleaded petrol
- Projected running (and repair) costs after warranty period (scarily high)
- Even though it is one of the nicer looking station wagons, it still looked a little too much like a family car
The Mazda 6 Sports Luxury Hatch (with Satellite Navigation) delivered the goods in terms of fulfilling our requirements the best when compared to our short-list of cars above. I must admit that my friend at the Mazda dealership, who also sold us the Mazda 2 Genki just two years prior, helped by giving us a great price (slightly above our $45,000 budget).
I am not sure what many of the car reviews are referring to when they label the 6 as noisy and not as refined as some of the other cars (in the same class). I find it ultra quiet and totally refined in ever y way. Although the interior may not exude the same level of class and craftsmanship of a top-of-the-line Volkswagen Passat, the latest updates (introduced in the revamped model 2 years ago) have improved the interior ambience to the point of being the nicest looking interior of any non-European sourced car. Most of the luxury goodies inside are very handy and work seamlessly. For example, the voice activated blue-tooth is a feature that you can’t go without, adding convenience and reducing the risk of having an accident (that would otherwise be present if using a mobile whilst driving).
I have so far outlayed approximately $265 per six monthly service. You may be thinking that this is more expensive than the yearly service costs of, for example, the Volkswagen Passat. This may be true over the warranty period (for the first three years of ownership), however after this point, when things start going wrong and parts are required, the equation falls heavily in favour of the Mazda.
Any other criticisms for the Mazda?
The car is now 18 months old now and I have very few criticisms. The front seats could do with a little more lateral support (I may be expecting too much here after driving the Alfa 147 with the totally and luxuriously comfortable Sports Luxury seats). It really should have had a reversing camera (particularly this top-of-the-line model), especially with the steeply raked rear window where vision is severely hindered. It could have also had a little more power (125kw is probably a little under average for this class of car). An extra 30kw would have been perfect.
As you can see, I’m finding it very hard to detail any real issues with this car. This is because Mazda has once again, produced a quality car that looks great and is great value for money. I guess that could be reason why it won best mid-size car in 2009 in Australia’s Best Cars and was a semi-finalist in Wheels Car of the Year for 2008.