The all-new Mazda6 has launched itself full pelt at a class filled with tough contenders, including the brilliant Ford Mondeo, classy Volkswagen Passat and sensible Vauxhall Insignia. All of this considered makes the Mazda's award for Best Large Family Car even more significant - a bold exterior design, comfortable interior and a range of efficient engines ensured the 6's top spot.
New from the ground up, the fresh-faced Mazda gets a menacing front end and an attractive interior. Its sleek body and flowing lines maximise fuel efficiency, while a range of frugal petrol and diesel engines return class-leading economy and emissions. It's great to drive, too. The light but direct steering means it's easy to manoeuvre around town yet entertaining to drive on a twisty back road, while the precise gearbox and well-weighted pedals make it a true rival for the Ford Mondeo in terms of driving enjoyment.
The 148bhp Mazda6 2.2D SE-L offers the best mix of equipment, pace and frugality – it’ll do 0-62mph in nine seconds, return 67.3mpg and emit just 108g/km of CO2. It gets cruise control, dual-zone air-con, rain sensing wipers and Bluetooth as well as a 5.8-inch touchscreen, parking sensors and hill-hold assist all as standard. Furthermore, it's comfortable for both driver and passenger thanks to supportive seats and plenty of rear leg and headroom. It's the longest car in its class and as a result is rewarded with a huge boot, while standard split-fold rear seats open up a huge load space when necessary.
All together, the new Mazda6 offers a unique and well-rounded package that none of its current rivals can match. There's a new Mondeo due next year, but until that arrives, the 6 saloon has got the large family car market all but wrapped up.