The Mazda 6, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord Euro, and Hyundai i40 all recorded on average a 10 per cent increase in sales in 2012 compared with 2011, so they’re becoming increasingly more relevant to consumers.

Medium is the new large, according to Australians who purchased a new car last year. The mid-sized segment – of which the above four nameplates snared more than half of all segment volume – surpassed the large class (which includes Falcon and Commodore) by 1600 sales, claiming seven per cent of the market to just 5.2 per cent.

What hasn’t changed in 17 years is that the Toyota Camry is the number one selling medium car – last year by a staggering six to one ratio over the second best seller, claiming more than one third of all sales in the class.

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The Mazda 6 nabbed that silver medal last year, claiming 9.2 per cent of sales, while the Honda Accord Euro and Hyundai i40 each took roughly a four per cent share. The still-excellent Ford Mondeo could have figured into our comparison test, but an all-new model is due later this year.

The medium class is no doubt buoyed by new product. The all-new, seventh-generation Toyota Camry led the charge late last year, followed earlier this year by the all-new, third-generation Mazda 6. The Hyundai i40 is the Korean manufacturer’s best car in our view, but until recently it was available only as a wagon. Finally, a sedan joins the range. Since its introduction in 2008, the best car in the medium class has been the Honda Accord Euro, our fourth and final contender.

The overwhelming specification of choice in this category are base model, petrol-engined, automatic transmission-equipped sedans. The Mazda 6 and i40 offer diesel availability, while the Australian-made Camry counters with a petrol-electric hybrid option. For the Euro, it’s petrol power or bust.

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PRICING AND EQUIPMENT

Hyundai’s i40 Active 2.0-litre four-cylinder kicks off proceedings at $31,990, followed by Honda’s Accord Euro 2.4-litre at $32,640, and Mazda’s 6 Touring 2.5-litre at $33,460. Toyota could only provide a mid-spec Camry Atara SX 2.5-litre, which at $35,990 tail-ends the group.

Each car has its own standard equipment highlights. In the i40, nine airbags are standard, including dual front, side and curtain protection. Only the Camry matches its standard driver’s knee airbag, while i40 uniquely gets rear-side impact airbags. The Hyundai also gets front and rear parking sensors, but misses out on the Accord Euro’s standard 17-inch alloys (the i40 gets 16-inch alloys), six-CD stacker and dual-zone climate control.

The Mazda 6 Sport matches the Euro’s kit, then adds satellite navigation, reversing camera, and electrically adjustable driver and passenger seats. Not even the more expensive Camry Atara SX gets standard voice navigation or electric adjustment for the passenger seat, but it does match the Mazda 6 Sport everywhere else.

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Above: Honda Accord Euro

LONG-TERM COSTS

The long-term value equation improves for the Toyota Camry when servicing costs are factored in. Toyota offers fixed-price servicing, charging $130 for each 15,000km or nine-month check-up, meaning a cost of $520 over three years or 60,000km.

Hyundai also offers a fixed-price schedule for the first three services, but the i40 needs 15,000km or 12-month check-ups, at an average cost of $777 if three years comes up for, or $1167 to 60,000km.

Neither Mazda nor Honda offers fixed price servicing, and both require 10,000km/six month workshop visits. According to a major Sydney dealership, over the standard three years/60,000km the 6 Sport will cost $1889 in genuine servicing, the Accord Euro $1951 (prices vary between dealers). That’s almost $1500 the Honda requires over the Toyota over a three-year ownership period, helping the Camry to claw back ground on the value front.

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Above: Toyota Camry Atara SX

FUEL ECONOMY

That other long-term cost – fuel economy – also allows the Mazda 6 to improve its long-term ownership package. Its official consumption, recorded in a laboratory designed to replicate a mixture of a city and freeway driving, claims 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres, the best of the group by far.

On our test, based around a similar mix of driving but with some harder country-road driving thrown in, the Mazda 6 slurped 10.3L/100km. The Hyundai i40 claims 7.5L/100km, but drank 11.5L/100km on test, while the economy sticker on the window of the Toyota Camry reads 7.8L/100km, yet it used 12.1L/100km. Worst of the group was the Honda Accord Euro, which gurgled 12.3L/100km of its required premium unleaded, up from its 8.5L/100km claim. The Euro is the only car here that won’t run on standard unleaded – it needs premium unleaded – further adding to its running costs.

Based on our figures, over the average 15,000km Australians drive each year, and with regular unleaded at $1.50 per litre and premium unleaded at $1.70 per litre, driving a Mazda 6 will save you $890 at the pumps compared with an Accord Euro, $405 over a Camry, and $270 over an i40.

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Above: Mazda 6 Sport

DRIVETRAINS

There’s a performance gain to be enjoyed in the Mazda 6, too. With 138kW of power produced at 5700rpm, and 250Nm at 3250rpm, its 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is gutsy when pushed, sweet to the ear, and effortless around town, yet clearly economical.

The six-speed automatic is also the best here, with fine intuition on hills and quick adaptability to a harder (or more relaxed) driving style.

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Above: Mazda 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine

The same-capacity engine in the Toyota Camry is also a strong unit. It pushes hard through the middle of the rev range, though it doesn’t move its tachometer needle quite as quickly as the Mazda and doesn’t sound nearly as good doing so.

There’s performance aplenty on offer, thanks to similar outputs – 131kW at 6000rpm and 255Nm at 4100rpm. The Toyota does, however, weigh 1505kg, 21 kegs more than the Mazda. With an adequate six-speed automatic, this is a functional, workman-like drivetrain.

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Above: Toyota 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine

The smaller 2.4-litre Honda engine is quite the opposite. It lacks a bit of performance, particularly on hills, where plenty of throttle needs to be used. It actually doesn’t lack torque – often a Honda criticism – because it feels perfectly relaxed in most situations.

Yet it’s when pressure is applied that the Honda ultimately feels slow to rev, possibly a consequence of its 1555kg kerb weight that makes it the heaviest car here. Its 148kW isn’t delivered until 7000rpm, which hints at this engine’s personality; the Euro has the most sporting engine of the quartet. Keen to be kept revving hard, it sounds fantastic doing so. The five-speed auto – although one gear short of this pack, not helping its consumption – does a sterling job of keeping the Euro on pace.

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Above: Honda 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine

Although it has the smallest engine here, the 2.0-litre Hyundai i40 produces some very good numbers. Its 131kW at 6500rpm almost matches the half-a-litre- larger Mazda, while its 214Nm at 4700rpm demonstrates its efficiency – generally 200Nm or less is standard for a 2.0-litre engine.

At 1441kg, the Hyundai is also the lightest car here, yet the high-ish revs at which its maximum torque is produced gives clue that this engine lacks punch down low in the rev range. It feels slowest of the group, although it sounds better working hard than the Camry, and its six-speed automatic is very smart selecting lower gears quickly.

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Above: Hyundai 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine

INTERIORS

The Hyundai i40 is efficient in other ways. Not only is it the lightest car here, but it’s also one of the roomiest. It stretches 4.74 metres, the same length as the Accord Euro, but the Hyundai has far more stretching room in the back seat. It matches the Camry and Mazda 6 for rear accommodation, yet they measure 4.81m and 4.87m long, respectively.

Hyundai is trying hard with its interiors, and the i40 is its best effort yet. The soft-touch plastics are nice, and pleasantly consistent, and the rubber-trimmed proper door grabs tactile.

But it dips in the detail – such as the imitation-leather steering wheel, the ‘clacky’ ventilation controls, and storage spots that aren’t lined.

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Above: Hyundai i40 dash layout, rear seat, and boot space

The Camry beats all for boot space, however. Its 515-litre cavity just edges out the i40 (505L), Euro (467L) and 6 (438L).

Inside the Toyota Camry Atara SX is a car that prioritises basic functionality, and the driving position, seat comfort, and ergonomics of the interior are spot on.

Neither the fit and finish of its trim panels, however, nor the style of its controls look or feel high quality.

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Above: Toyota Camry dash layout, rear seat, and boot space

Despite being the oldest car here, with a five-year vintage, the Honda Accord Euro remains unmatched for interior quality. Its front seats are superb, even featuring prominent shoulder support, although rear occupants suffer from the least amount of sprawling space here.

All controls move with tactility and precision, and even the storage pockets beneath the stereo and on either side of the transmission tunnel are lined with velour. Only the non-colour screens and unintuitive Bluetooth (without music streaming) betray the Accord Euro’s age.

Its boot beats only the Mazda’s, however.

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Above: Honda Accord Euro dash layout, rear seat, and boot space

Not only does the Mazda have the smallest boot, but with a high loading lip and smaller opening than its rivals, it further hinders practicality. That said, it joins all rivals here in offering split-fold rear seats and rear seat air vents.

The Mazda 6 interior runs the Euro hard, as it should being a brand new car. Its touchscreen interface isn’t perfect, however, with cheap graphics and similarly average Bluetooth operation.

The design is suave and modern, with piano black and silver accents, and trim quality high. It best balances style, space and quality.

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Above: Mazda 6 dash layout, rear seat, and boot space

STEERING, RIDE AND HANDLING

Although the Camry has a strong engine, it is lacking in terms of both steering precision and handling finesse. To go from full left steering lock to full right lock takes 3.2 turns – which means more arm twirling to fit the Toyota into a tight shopping centre car park spot.

By comparison the Hyundai needs 2.8, the Accord Euro 2.7 and the Mazda 6 a quick 2.6 turns lock to lock.

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On the freeway, the Camry lacks on-centre steering feel, and is prone to ‘wander’ requiring small but noticeable steering corrections. The i40 offers the best Hyundai steering system to date, and is nicely light, direct and consistent.

But a switch to the Accord Euro and Mazda 6 reveals the best steering, with the Euro taking honours by being fractionally more direct just off the wheel’s centre position than the 6.

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Both Japanese mid-sizers lead the way for handling excellence.

The new Mazda 6 is brilliantly agile, balanced and fun. It continues this medium car’s history of rewarding enthusiastic driving, but now cossets occupants more during commuting.

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The Accord Euro perhaps has an even sharper front end than the 6, with stacks of grip and a real stand-on-its-nose cornering disposition. Unlike the Mazda, however, the Honda lacks control of its body on a rough country road. It bounces and heaves on the same bumpy bitumen that the others smother.

On the flipside, the Honda has the nicest around-town ride comfort, so if you spend most of your days commuting in the city and suburbs, look no further than the soothing, bump-blotting Accord Euro.

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The Mazda 6 comes close, and is hugely improved over too-firm previous models, but like the Hyundai i40 it can jiggle around a bit on ostensibly smooth surfaces.

The i40 forces its driver to work harder to keep up with the Mazda and Honda on a twisty road, but it has decent front-to-rear balance – that is, you can feel when the front tyres start to lose grip, and after lifting the throttle or brushing the brake, the car shifts its weight slightly to maintain a cornering line. Still, it lacks the agility of its two Japanese rivals.

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The Toyota Camry, meanwhile, struggles to find a satisfactory balance between ride and handling, at least in this Atara SX spec with sports suspension. On the freeway, it fidgets annoyingly, and bumpy country roads send shivers through the steering wheel and dash, such is its firmness.

Yet the Camry chassis never delights, feeling wallowy and pushing at the front early when hustling it through corners.

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VERDICT

We know from experience that a base model Toyota Camry Altise or hybrid H with standard suspension both offer decent ride comfort, and we’d suggest these are a wiser (and cheaper) choice. In fact, the ultra-frugal petrol-electric Camry is one of the smartest family car choices around if you’re looking for pragmatic, sensible motoring.

Where the Honda Accord Euro offers driving panache at the expense of space, the opposite is true for the Hyundai i40. Depending on your priorities, either is a fine mid-sized car, but the Euro just edges ahead. Meanwhile our fourth contender here blends both attributes to take the crown. The all-new Mazda 6 is a brilliantly complete mid-sized car.

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This comparison review first appeared in the April issue of the CarAdvice iPad magazine app. Head to the Apple App Store to download the entire issue.

Honda Accord Euro
 
Price: $32,640
Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 148kW at 7000rpm
Torque: 230Nm at 4200-4400rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 8.5L/100km claimed (12.3L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 202g/km

Hyundai i40 Active
 
Price: $31,990
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 131kW at 6500rpm
Torque: 214Nm at 6700rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km claimed (11.5L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 176g/km

Mazda 6 Sport
 
Price: $33,460
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 138kW at 5700rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 3250rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 7.8L/100km claimed (10.3L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: Not available

Toyota Camry Atara S
 
Price: $35,990
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 133kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 235Nm at 4100rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km claimed (12.1L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 183g/km





  • Rocket

    If the Euro was RWD it would be on my shopping list. Honda should be making a BMW 3 series competitor instead of competing with Camrys.

    • azeng

      Just because it’s FWD doesn’t mean it can’t be a 3 series competitor. The Audi A4 is FWD for instance, and it shapes up fine to the 3 series.

      • Kon

        I would say that the Ford Mondeo 2.0 EcoBoost measures up very nicely against the 328i.

        • Zaccy16

          if they offered the full 177 kw tune like in the falcon then it would

          • Rocket

            If the Ecoboost Falcon was a fraction smaller it would win this contest hands down. Unfortunately it is too “big” so it is not even considered a competitor.

          • Zaccy16

            ford should make the falcon a fraction size smaller and get rid of the mondeo for are market

          • Rocket

            The way the market is now a smaller version of the Falcon and the Commodore would probably be the way to go. If people want size they go for a large SUV or dual cab utes now. A BMW 3 series competitor for the price and size of a Camry would bring customers back.

          • JamesB

            The Mondeo is highly acclaimed, even in America in Fusion guise. It offers near-BMW dynamics without the whopping price tag. The Falcon, on the other hand, is loved by no one, including its own country. So you may have to rethink on what should be axed.

          • azeng

            No it wouldn’t. It only got 4 stars, compared to the 6′s 4.5 stars. If you compare, the Falcon is a lot heavier, which negates some of the extra power, the fuel and performance figures are based on premium, it still has worse economy anyway, it has a rubbish interior, theres less standard equipment, it costs $4000 more etc etc.

          • JoeR_AUS

            I have driven both and the Mazda is not in the same league as the Falcon, the Mazda 6 engine needs to rev to get power and is noisy, esp above 4000rpm. Also if you shop around you can get the Falcon cheaper than the Mazda 6. Big failing with the Mazda 6 is rear head room, my son’s head was permanently sitting against the C pillar!

          • JoeR_AUS

            Actually the Mazda 6 is longer than a Falcon

        • F1orce

          Drive the 335i and suddenly the 328i will feel like a downscaled Beemer..

          • azeng

            Maybe because the 328i is a downscaled Beemer compared to the 335i…?

      • Rocket

        Thankfully some manufacturers stick with RWD. The A4 is probably a good car but would be better as RWD. Just my preference that’s all.

      • bd

        Except when the A4 is seen as a 3 Series-fighter, it is equipped with Quattro.

    • F1orce

      Not only that, the Euro with the V6 would be such an amazing option!

      • azeng

        A more amazing option would be a Mazda 6 MPS with a turbo 4 and AWD.

    • Sydlocal

      …and unfortunately would make the relatively cramped rear seat even more cramped and small boot even smaller.
      You must push your cars really hard Rocket because that is the only time you would pick something like the Euro/Mazda6 as being FWD (except for maybe having more room inside than a RWD of equal size). Those two would even show some RWD cars a clean set of heels through the corners, I would almost say a base (non-sport) model Falcon/Commodore would struggle and would have to use their better straight line speed to keep up. Another example the first model Mazda6 classic in the first Wheels Active Safety Program was capable of higher G through corners and faster slalom times/faster lane change, wet and dry, than the Commodore Berlina and Falcon XR6 at the time. It even managed to beat an E46 BMW 330i coupe they had there as a benchmark in all of the handling criteria. I am not saying they are the best handling out there, but for the average driver under the average conditions, the disadvantages of FWD would rarely show up and have a depth of handling that would keep them satisfied…

      I do agree though, as an enthusiast, a FWD lacks the ‘on the limit feel’ (more of a feel thing than actual handling capability) of a ‘well sorted’ RWD (just because a car is RWD though it doesn’t mean it instantly would handle better). However I must say the Megane RS265 Trophy comes damn close. The grip on that thing never quits and shows the middle finger to ‘traditional’ FWD dynamics!

      • Rocket

        There have been many great handling FWD cars over the years but they have all been small cars. Name a large FWD car the size of a Falcon or Commodore that is renowned for its handling and not ride quality? Our locals have both especially XR6 and SV6 which can be had for 35K and are better cars to drive full stop than this bunch. The Mazda 6 may have a few more features and better fit and finish but to get a large RWD car with this quality level one has to look at a BMW 5 series or MB E class. It all depends what you value for your budget I suppose.

        • jhg

          The Mazda6 isn’t a small car and did you even read what Sydlocal wrote? He referenced the Wheels active safety testing where the Mazda6 apparently achieved higher Gs in corners, quicker slalon times and quicker lane change times in both wet and dry conditions as compared to Commodore and XR6.

        • Jason

          Wrong. My current car is an FG Falcon XR6, My previous car was the long superseded Mazda 6 from 2002 (when first realeased). Guess which is the better handler ? The Mazda 6 kills the Ford in 99% of situations. In comparison to the Mazda 6 the Ford is cumersome, the steering less sharp. I realised quickly after buying the Falcon that the extra grunt is only useful rarely – quality dynamics and handling are noticeable everywhere.

          And all this is ignoring the huge gap in quality, fit and finish in favour of the Japanese manufactured Mazda. Ever hear of lift off oversteer ? It’s on demand in the (old) Mazda 6. Looking at the new Mazda, without driving it, I am concerned at the choice of wheels. My old Mazda6 Classic had after market 215/45/17′s. The new model has 225/55/17 – so that might not steer as sharp as the old model. To get lower profile you need to pay for the premium models which have 19′s. The best compromise would have been 225 or even 235/45/18.

      • Wile E

        Yep that lack of contact through the front wheels when the going gets quick is very unnerving.I enjoy a bit of slippage at the rear but when at the front it makes me nervous and I don’t enjoy it.

      • JoeR_AUS

        The Mazda 6 is to small in the back for Adults, my son heads sit against the C pillar. In a Falcon or Commodore there is lot more room in the rear. Also, the Falcon is actually shorter than the Mazda 6.

        The Mazda drives like a large car and should not be in this category at all.

    • Henry Toussaint

      There is the Legend..But that’s pretty boring to look at.

      • Nick

        That’s AWD.

        • Henry Toussaint

          Yeah true. I don’t even think they’re made anymore either

        • JamesB

          AWD without the grunt is useless.

          • 7dais

            3.7L V6? mmm maybe.

  • TG

    CA writes: “Toyota offers fixed-price servicing, charging $130 for each 15,000km or
    nine-month check-up, meaning a cost of $520 over the three-year/60,000km
    program.”

    CA, for Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion, the fixed price servicing is for 4 years/75,000km. 5 services all up at $130 a pop.

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Correct, TG, thanks for the spot. We usually standardise servicing between the cars to three years or 60,000km, but in this case the program is available for one further service. Cheers,

  • Wizzbang

    I feel the Suzuki Kizashi and the Kia Optima perhaps should have been included in this comparison.

    • Zaccy16

      kizashi is a nice car but is smaller than these rivals and the optima is below these cars

      • Wombat

        Who says Optima is below these cars? In recent comparisons on other websites the Optima comprehensively beat the Kizashi and Camry. And what the Optima may lose out to the Accord and Mazda6 on driving dynamics when pushed to the extreme (which few drivers ever do) it more than makes up with stunning styling, great equipment levels, the best satnav, better luggage space, warranty and a full sized spare.For most people these are significant factors,

        • azeng

          The Optima is definitely worse than both the Euro and 6. The Optima will lose to the Euro and 6, not only when pushed to the extreme, but in every day driving. Considering it’s related to the i45, yes it has decent styling, but has aged terribly and is now simply outclassed by both Euro and 6 (especially 6). Great equipment level? the best satnav? Does the base model even come with SatNav? I’m guessing not. And then there’s the lower power to weight ratio than the 6, but still 1.5L more per 100km/h etc etc. Yeah I think I’ve made it clear.

        • azeng

          And to answer your “Who says”, CarAdvice says. 3.5 for Optima, 4 for Accord Euro, 4.5 for 6

          • Wombat

            Anyone who reads reviews on this site and any other motoring site will realize that the rating systems are very variable depending on the reviewer and the mood they are in. Its only fair to compare ratings when the cars are tested simultaneously by the same reviewer. Furthermore, most motoring journalists have a strong bias towards performance and handling over EVERYTHING else, (except of course for the soft touch plastics in VW’s which seems to send them into a frenzy).. Most buyers of mid size sedans will seldom drive at anywhere near the cars limit and will be much more interested in things like a useful boot, a full sized spare, longer service intervals and whether or not their new car is likely to spontaneously burst into flames like the Mazda6 does, apparently.

          • azeng

            As I said, cars don’t need to be driven anywhere near the limit to know their dynamic ability; a bad performing and handling car will be worse on any daily routine. Fair enough about the boot space and spare, but these don’t make up for the difference otherwise. And the flames issue was fixed a long time ago, and current cars don’t have the issue any more. Eventually you’ll just have to admit the Mazda 6 is a far better car than a Kia Optima overall, as every single review site in the world has proven.

          • Elantra

            Don’t waste your time with Azeng’s baseless comments.

            Only time will tell, everyone knows Kia and Hyundai are getting better and better.

          • azeng

            Baseless? There are many many reviews that I have my opinions based on? Why don’t you show me one review where the Kia Optima/ Hyundai i45 scores higher than the Mazda 6
            ? And yes, I agree Kia and Hyundai are getting better and better, but regardless of brand, the Optima/i45 is a worse car than the 6.

          • Wombat

            Well, the Optima was recently awarded International Car of the Year at the Detroit Motor show and I think they know something about cars in Detroit. As for Mazda fixing the fire issue “a long time ago”, The cars were recalled in March this year..
            And finally, my views are not based on other reviews. They are based on my own personal experience. As I said initially, I dont like the new 6 and have crossed it off my list as a potential replacment for my existing Mazda6.

    • Hshsh

      Them two are too niche.
      And also not as good as the main Japanese cars here

      • bd

        The older Optima has beaten Camry (as well as the Altima) in every comparison test.

  • Kon

    Do you guys see the VW Passat as a competitor in this segment?

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      We certainly do, Kon, but we were aiming for a sub-$35,000 starting price and the VW Passat starts at $38,990. Cheers,

      • Chad

        Does Skoda make a sub 35k competitor?

        • azeng

          New Octavia hasn’t come out here yet, and the Superb is too big.

    • Tone

      These four make the Passat look like the overpriced bucket that it is.

      • Cars

        So you’ve never owned one then. Enough said.

        • Jack

          I’m a fan of the Passat, but there’s not denying that it’s at least a little overpriced. I would consider one if they dropped the price, but starting at $38,990, it’s a little hard to justify over the strong (and in some cases better) competition.

  • MickA

    What are the correct fuel figures? The test fuel figures in the story are different to the comparison table at the bottom of the review

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Apologies, the table had the incorrect info. Sorted now. Thanks,

  • Shazza

    wrong the Camry und Aurion have best powertrain and

    The 2.5L Camry motor is very good and most relaxed and refined 4-cyl more available. Don’t why but the Aurion is actually more efficient fuel efficient then Camry and the 3.5L V6 is awesome

  • Zaccy16

    Great review CA very informative, the mazda 6 deservedly wins this comparo, the engine is the best on fuel but the quickest and most refined too, its handling is fantastic but it is still comfortable, for people who couldn’t believe the fuel ecconomy of the camry in its last review its been repeated here, the camry looks the oldest and blandest out of all these cars and has soggy handling and a rest less ride, the i 40 is a decent car much better than the awful i45 but it needs a better interior and the 2.4 l petrol engine from the optima, the accord euro is still a good car but is showing its age in some areas

    • Gregov

      Honestly, much of those issues you mentioned would be fixed if they had tested the Camry Hybrid (and CA even pointed out themselves that the Camry Hybrid would probably be a better pick over the SX and in the class in general).

      • Zaccy16

        I agree that the hybrid has a better engine but the transmission is hopeless and the handling is still no where near the Mazda or honda

      • Sydlocal

        The only problem with the Camry Hybrid is that you lose a fair bit of boot space, negating one of its main advantages.

        • Ace

          Let’s be honest here: If boot space is that important, most people would be getting a SUV or a Wagon than a sedan.

    • Wombat

      You are entitled to your views but I disagree. We are looking to replace our current Mazda6 shortly and I’ve already crossed the new Mazda6 off the list. It has a pitiful boot, especially given the fact that it has a space saver spare. Its far longer than it needs to be. The 10k service intervals are a pain, and I think the interior/dashboard is both cheap and ugly.and last time I heard, the Mazda6 had been withdrawn from sale until Mazda could work out how to stop the ieloop system bursting into flames! Currently the Optima Platinum is my preference though I will continue to assess the market until the time comes to buy early next year.

      • Dieseltorque

        I agree the boot is pathetic, it is far too shallow. I doubt you could stand an esky. Interior is cramped, certainly not a large car & the dash Sat Nav looks aftermarket. Falcon & Commodore are a lot roomier inside.

        • azeng

          The interior isn’t cramped…it has the most legroom in class. And of course it’s not a large car…its a mid-size, I don’t know why you are comparing it to Falcon/Commodore; they are much heavier, use much more fuel (yes, including the ecoboost) and have worse interior quality. I agree though that the Sat Nav looks rubbish.

          • JoeR_AUS

            Perhaps because the Mazda 6 sedan is longer than a Falcon. The Mazda for all its size is a 2 adult only car, the rear could not be considered for full size adults over 180cm.

          • Dieseltorque

            Umm I’m comparing it to the Falcon & Commodore due to the amount of comments referencing the 6 as a large car. Sure it’s long but still only for 4 adults. The Mazda is a very nice car although after reviewing all the reports of it being much larger than the previous model upon inspection I think the older model is roomier and more practical. Maybe it’s all in the roof height!

        • Sydlocal

          Yes the boot is pathetic in the new Mazda6 (especially compared to the previous model that had a bigger boot than the Commodore), but it is anything but cramped. Are you sure you have actually sat in the back seat of the new Mazda6 sedan? The back seat legroom is lineball with the Falcon and would give the Commodore a good run for its money. Plus it doesn’t have a large transmission/tailshaft tunnel running through the middle of the cabin. That is immediately obvious from the driver’s seat where there is more foot room in the Mazda6 than a Falcon, whose large transmission tunnel forces your feet to the outside and hence being off-centre with your driving position. It is the width where the Commodore and Falcon have the advantage with interior space.

          • Dieseltorque

            Yes we all sat in the back of the 6 and yes I still think its cramped. Very low roof height and quite narrow. I agree its about the width and its why the locals were popular. After hopping out of a Commodore into a 6 it was a lot smaller inside than I thought it would be.

    • bd

      The i40 has a better interior than the Camry or the Mazda6.

    • Cars

      The biggest problem with the Camry was sumarised by Daniel;
      “On the freeway, the Camry lacks on-centre steering feel, and is prone to
      ‘wander’ requiring small but noticeable steering corrections.”

      The only thing I’d add is that this can be a huge safety issue. If you are temporarilly distracted and looking away from the road ahead the Camry can quickly find itself headed for the sidewalk or the other side of the road. It’s bizarre that Toyota think this is acceptable. After driving the other four it leaves you amazed at how poor it really is.

  • Baji

    Great review CarAdvice! Been looking forward to this comparo. Very informative and a lot of good points were raised, especially in terms of cost of ownership.

    Having been in all of these cars, I am not surprised that the Camry is at the bottom. Not that its bad at anything, but it doesn’t excel in any one category either, and is the epitome of A-B motoring, very much an appliance in every sense of the word.

    The i40 is a very nice looking car, both inside and out, and I would say design-wise it compares favourably to the Accord Euro, however the interior materials quality aren’t quite at the same level as the Honda.

    Where my opinion differs from the review, is that I believe the Mazda6 has the better interior, compared to the Accord Euro – the Euro is very well put together, but its design is overly fussy, the grain of the soft touch dash is horrible (it reminds me of styrofoam boxes) and those dials in the instrument panel are large and obnoxious. I’ve never really warmed to this model Accord Euro, as I think in terms of design it is a major step backwards from the near perfect first generation Accord Euro.

    The Mazda6 on the other hand, a very big step up from both previous versions in every way. True, it may be softer in all the ways that made the previous 6′s hard edged, but this new version offers a better blend of everything that makes a good mid-sizer compared to every previous iteration of the 6. Good looks, good interior space and design, great power powertrains and fuel economy, good driving dynamics as well as ride quality. The previous 6′s compromised one thing for another.

    A very deserved win for the 6, but I can’t say i was very surprised by the outcome.

  • MisterZed

    I have an i45 and it has more power and torque than any of these cars, and looks better too.

    • Sydlocal

      …but is actually slower and burns more fuel in the real world than most of them (which was the common theme in many previous class head to heads). Peak figures only tell part of the story and much of the time is only good for bragging down at the pub.

      Also, how is the 250Nm of torque from the i45 MORE than the numerically identical 250Nm of torque from the Mazda6?? I may have missed something because I am not that good at maths…

      Plus the Mazda6 for example would be much more driveable than the i45 in every day driving because its identical 250Nm peak is around 1000rpm lower in the rev range, making it more accessible in every day driving making it a more relaxed exerience. You would have the push the i45 much harder than the Mazda6 to get to its peak performance (both power and torque peaks are lower down the rpm range in the lighter Mazda6) which hurts the fuel consumption and resultant ‘real world’ performance even more.

      The i45 however beats them all with boot capacity and huge interior cabin space. However all the looks and space in the world doesn’t help it when you get to the first corner! However I must admit after their ‘suspension re-tune’ it became much nicer to drive than the previous model Camry (I haven’t driven the new Camry to compare). It was a great, roomy A-B car, but not a good choice for people who enjoy the odd blast along a twisty back road, which is something the Euro and Mazda6 excel at!

    • azeng

      i45 looks better than a Mazda 6…? Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but then some people just have no taste…

    • F1orce

      The i45 was very good.

      Why did they discontinue it? The i40 isn’t as good. In U.S. their Hyundai range puts the Hyundai’s here to shame!

      • Henry Toussaint

        It sold better than the i40 aswell!

  • Zeiss

    why can’t hyundai make good looking car? this i40 is the ugliest looking thing on this comparison!!

    Look at the Accord Euro, looks like the business, look at i40 ,looks like a fruit cake it’s slow ugly and overpriced

    • Sydlocal

      I think the 1st gen Euro was a class act and one of the best Hondas ever made, except for the cramped rear seat and small boot/space saver. To me the 2nd gen looks like the 1st gen spent too much time at an ‘all you can eat’ restaurant and then had a bit of plastic surgery carried out to try and look younger. The weight went up quite a bit but the drivetrain essentially stayed the same, meaning it is slower. By the time you eventually reach the engine’s ‘sweet spot’ when you flatten it from the lights etc, you are already at the speed limit. Once at highway speeds where it could kick down it went quite well, but if you spend most of your time in the city it just feels way too sluggish, especially compared to the previous model Mazda6 I drove straight after it along the same roads. You always had to use more throttle to get to the performance you were after. Another example how peak paper figures don’t always give an accurate indication of real world performance.
      The build quality and attention to detail however is second to none, even after all these years.

      • Dieseltorque

        Agree, Mazda handles well and engine is quite sweet but a little noisy. Honda are excellent at interiors and build quality is superb in the Euro.

  • Dennis

    I think the Mazda 6 should be classified as a Large Car. It sure isn’t a medium car anymore…

    • azeng

      Why not? Despite it being longer than its competitors (not by that much anyway), it’s lower and is still one of the lightest in class, being 150kg ligher than an Ecoboost Falcon from the class above. There isn’t even a 150kg difference between a Mazda 6 and 3 Skyactiv.

      • $29896495

        The Falcon’s rear drive setup adds most of that weight.

    • Sydlocal

      Dennis, it is not only length that determines “size”. Width is another major factor and that is where the Commodore/Falcon have a distinct advantage over a car like the Mazda6 ie the Commodore is around 6cm wider and Falcon is around 3cm wider. However that doesn’t explain the Aurion/Camry being classed differently!!!! There are a few cars out there that make you wonder how they worked out the class they fit into.

      • Dennis

        This is what i mean. It’s too confusing…

      • $29896495

        That’s 1 to 2 inches in the old money. That’s no advantage. They are in essence the same width, the difference is so minimal. In the case of the Commodore – it’s mainly wider because of those front flares. Elbow room in some cases is better in the so called “medium” or “small” cars, both wrongly used labels. It’s purely about engine capacity these days. And bamboosling the public. Selling people a big car as a medium or small car simply because it has a different name and a 4 cylinder.

        • Dieseltorque

          Well do the baby seat test then. Two baby seats in a Commodore & a Mazda 6 & see which one can still seat an Adult. I think it’s been a while since many have sat in the back of a Commodore & Falcon.

          • $29896495

            n interesting thing with a lot of OS cars, is that their doors are really thick, and then have sculpted door cards which look great but suck up space like a sponge. Don’t know why they do it, might make them easier to build. (Thick doors that is)

  • JamesB

    The Mazda needs an MPS version, which will make it like a grown-up WRX that looks much much better. An Accord Euro replacement is said to be in the works, but America now has the new version of the big, ugly one (which still hasn’t been replaced as we are almost always the last ones in the world to get the new models). That new car, with a tweaked version of the Euro’s 2.4 and 6-speed manual, can do 100 in the low sevens, which is quite remarkable for a non-turbo. That said, we still need a V6 or blown four; these cars are just too good not to be lightning quick.

  • Kevin A-Z

    The Mazda6 has a chassis a lot like the new Fusion now. It has definitely evolved into more of a large size sedan. Besides the Hyundai, I’d say they are all moving in the right direction.

  • Aus_poppa

    As lots of people have commented, these cars are the new large cars. As the big RWD dinosaurs fade into the distance – maybe they already have – then these cars are the alternative to SUVs for those spending their own money.

    Given that Car Advice thinks the Hybrid Camry is probably the pick of that crop, what would have been interesting is to have grouped together Hybrid Camry and the I40 and Mazda 6 diesels and to have replaced the Honda with a Mondeo diesel.

    Maybe that can be done in a month or two using the Holden Malibu diesel instead.

    • Phil

      big rwd dinosaurs? Given the 6 is dimensionally so close to the VE Commodore, it seems it is more a matter of perception. I’d have liked to see the Ecoboost Falcon in this comparo just to establish a baseline.

      • Aus_poppa

        Phil, you are right about the dimensions, but as you say, it is a matter of perception. Perception by fleet managers who only want a 4 cylinder fleet, but particularly amongst private buyers.

        When the fleets switch off the 6 cylinder “large cars” – like will the current taxi fleet Falcons be replaced with the same cars? – who will be left to buy them? The people who tow things have gone to Dual Cab utes, or SUVs already. There won’t be enough buyers to justify the expense of making them as some sort of niche model? Won’t happen.

        So, learn to love the cars tested – maybe in their touquier diesel versions. With reviews like this here it isn’t hard to do.

      • Sydlocal

        Maybe in length, but the 6cm difference in width between the VE and Mazda6 could be classed as considerable.

        I agree, it would have been interesting to throw in the Ecoboost Falcon. Other than lacking the build quality of the Euro/Mazda6 I believe it would have done quite well. It is such a shame many people don’t know about it or dismiss it because it is ‘only a 4cyl Falcon’. The sad thing is I am sure many of the people with that attitude would turn around and say ‘why don’t Ford move with the times’ and then say ‘why aren’t people buying Australian made’…

  • Sam

    Wow, talk about poor fuel consumption. Is anyone else shocked? To me it seems that they all drink waaay too much. Especially when you compare it to what the manufacturer claims they will drink.

    • azeng

      That’s because reviewers like to drive them much harder than they would normally be driven to test the engine, handling and braking, so their figures aren’t really indicative of real world figures.

  • Dieseltorque

    The Honda would drink more fuel because the reviewers would be loving revving out that sweet 2.4l. Still has the best quality interior although a little cramped in the back. Impressive this car is still up there after all this time. Best manual in the business too.

    • Sydlocal

      I agree it is a fine car, however they would also be revving it out because that is the only way to get anywhere with haste. The Gen2 Euros I have driven have felt quite sluggish in the ‘stop-start’ bustle of city driving, which is what you would expect by not really changing the drivetrain from Gen1 but adding extra weight. By the time that lovely engine starts to sing you are already at the speed limit and you have been left behind by a few similar cars. I agree with the review where it feels like it is slow to rev and it feels you always have to use more throttle to get anywhere. Out on the highway though where you already have revs on board they are awesome and yes, that manual is almost MX5 precise and easily the best FWD manual transmission out there.

  • DT

    That interior of the i40 is disgusting.

    • Elantra

      That means the Accord’s, 6′s, and Camry’s interior are worser than i40?And at least it has high quality materials.

      • Don Quay

        Worser? Shouldn’t you have said the i40 was betterer than the others?

  • surprised

    quite poor as tested fuel consumption figures for these 4cylinder cars! I drove a rental Falcon XR6 4.0L I6 around BlueMts last month and averaged 9.4l/100km on regular unleaded. i guess the problem with these 4cylinder cars is that you have to rev them high thus increasing fuel use and engine/trannie waer and tear.

  • Callum Andrews

    These days Falcon’s and Commodores are not that much bigger. I have a Falcon Ecoboost ( 4 cylinder ) and yes it should compete with these cars and would win hands down. But really Falcon makes the other car brands look rubbish. If Australians knew how good a Ford Falcon Ecoboost really is then thoughts on a 4 cylinder would change dramatically. Yes people rave on about “you can’t have a 4 cylinder Falcon, its not a Falcon if has a 4 cylinder” but if Falcon stayed with a 8 and 6 cylinder then they would sell none. This is today, everyone is downsizing but you may thing downsizing from a 8 cylinder to a 6 cylinder or a 6 cylinder to a 4 cylinder is a big deal. It isn’t Falcon Ecoboost is a 2.0 4 cylinder that is as fast as the Falcon I6 and 100kg lighter making it much lighter on the front axle making it a lighter steer giving it more direct and sharp handling. Making it simply a effortless car to drive with big fuel savings and more fun to drive than the 6 cylinder. Its crazy. AUSTRALIAN’S TEST DRIVE A FALCON ECOBOOST 4 CYLINDER AND FIND OUT HOW GOOD IT REALLY IS!!!!!!!!!!!

    • F1orce

      There’s a big problem with Falcon ecoboost.

      Who’s gonna pay more money for a lesser car? The Ecoboost is weaker and slower and costs more than the normal one.

      What a flawed strategy by Ford.

      Besides 1706kg kerb weight for a 4-cyl is poor and its only 50kg less than the IRON BLOCK 4.0L I-6 which is a shoddy effort..

      • dhfj

        XT Ecoboost is 1648kgs not 1706 and it’s the same price as the 4.0 6 not “more money”.

        • F1orce

          G6E ecoboost according to Ford has 1706kg kerb weight.

      • Karl Sass

        The ecoboost is a no cost option, it gives people choice (if they knew it existed).

        • F1orce

          Even so, why would you pay for what technically is a ‘lesser product’

          If the 2.0L Ecoboost Falcon was cheaper than the stronger 4.0L, then perhaps it would’ve had a logical backing. But that just isn’t the case.

          • Karl Sass

            Mostly fleets, although there are some (seniors, fuel economy conscious etc.) buyers who prefer it. Ultimately the only way to know for sure is for Ford to advertise it and sell some first, then we can find out. Personally I think the LPG model is the pick, best performance and cheapest to run, although every option has its compromises.

  • KiddingMe

    I’ve made it known before I ‘had’ a Mazda 3. I recently sold the car and jumped into an SL Camry.

    I do agree with most of what this review says about them all; however, the fuel consumption figures blow me away. I’ve only got 1100km on the Camry and the last tank I averaged 8.8L/100 which isn’t mind blowing, but it’s better than what you guys suggested. Mind you I did heaps of stop start driving going to and from local places.

    The Honda Euro, the thing that turned me off was the clunky A pillar bolt on bluetooth system and for every day driving I found it completely underpowered, unless it was reved hard, then it was ok.

    The Hyundai I dislike where they are going with their styling so I didn’t even consider it and the Mazda I just find so bloody expensive to run, as was the Honda which was another factor.

    The Camry isn’t the best of the bunch but it does alot of things well. The DAB radio and the bluetooth system in the Camry were big winners in my eyes. I really do like the car and I can live with the styling of it.

    The engine could be a bit harder and the steering a bit more direct but it’s not something that annoys me. The suspension I don’t mind either. it’s not as smooth as the Honda but it’s 100x more smoother than the SP25.

    My parents have a Honda Euro (same as they used in this review), so I’ve driven it a bit.

    • save it for the track

      What may have been useful or instructive woudl have been to have an ecoboost Falcon aling on the same test program. Then we may have seen gow the fuel economy compares in the same situation. As family vehicles, I have seen that the boot space opening of the Mazda6 and Euro are too small (think tri-wheel stroller), the Camry still uses old style hinges that intrude into a packed boot, and the i40 engine seems too peaky to me (peak torque at 6700??). I believe that a Skoda Octavia would be a good alternative, larger, more useable and practical boot space (560L), don’t know about the interior space, and from all accounts even though I would lean toward a 1.8L, even the 1.4L turbo petrol is quite acceptable with 90kW and 200Nm of torque. Of course those concerned with resale would continue to steer clear.

    • Vti07

      The bluetooth was changed to the steering wheel type in 2011/12 update I believe.
      As the car is approaching 6 years old (at the end of the year) the replacement Euro should be coming some time soon. It would have to be something special to beat the Mazda 6.

  • Nick

    The Camry isn’t that new. It came out late 2011, not last year.

  • L8ERON

    I drive a 2010 manual Honda Euro Luxury.
    I have just clocked up 60k kilometres
    It’s avg fuel consumption is 8.5L per 100Klm It’s best fuel consumption is 7.8L per 100Klm around town.
    Strongly suggest the assessor has a lead foot or doesn’t know what they are talking about.

    • JoeR_AUS

      ok, but where do you live?

  • Don Quay

    So in summary. The Camry is competent but average in all areas and doesn’t stand out. Hyundai has less than good dynamics and unrealistic claims for power, torque and economy (as usual). The Honda is still competitive, but starting to show its age in a few areas. It has to be the Mazda then, goes well, looks good, likes the bends and sips the fuel.

  • Antmindel

    I looked at all ,but bought the Euro.
    Could not be happier with my choice,it just looks and feels right,and has been a pleasure to own so far.

  • JD

    isnt the new accord going to be launched a the end of this mo?nth

  • JD

    and its funny to see the Mazda 6 considered to be a mid sized car given the fact it is the same size as a Falcadore

  • racrepus

    So the Camry uses the most fuel, looks the most dated (inside and out) and costs the most. Why on Earth would anyone buy one over the others. Oh right, blind Toyota brand loyalty.

    • a.j.a

      Toyota could only supply the mid spec Atara SX, If they had suppled the base model like the rest of the car company’s it would have actually be the cheapest car at 30,490. And it uses less fuel than the Atara SX, It also looks better than it, and it looks much better then the Hyundai i40 and ageing Honda Accord, but thats just my opinion.

  • Dieseltorque

    Can anyone comment on the road noise of this new model? I am yet to drive it properly and know all Mazda’s are poor at suppressing road noise. Has this changed with the new 6?

    • Bubba Gump

      I took delivery of a new diesel 6 wagon a few weeks ago and the road noise is fine. Depends on the types of roads you drive on. I’m in Perth and the roads around the city here are quite smooth compared to Sydney and Melbourne so road noise isn’t really an issue.
      I don’t think it’s at the level of say a BMW but it’s better than the old 6.

      • Dieseltorque

        Thanks Bubba, Mazda’s have always been very noisy especially in the back. Although not as long as the sedan I think the wagon is a better choice over the very shallow boot of the sedan.

  • Noely

    But the 6 offers Wagon!

    • 7dais

      Yeah! Actually, the 6 and the i40 are kind of the same… Both come with the option of a wagon and a body style of a wagon.

  • David Miller

    I’ve tested all four cars and have to say the Hyundai i40 is the best in terms of fuel efficiency and driving satisfaction.

    The Accord Euro tries too hard to be European. Why not buy a Volkswagen or BMW if you want to drive a European car?

  • Rock Halliday

    Who is the know nothing that chose to test the Accord Euro over the regular Accord? The 2013 Accord is a much more complete car than the Euro and easily holds its own against the Mazda 6.

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