I live and breathe cars. Pull into my driveway and it doesn't matter if it's a Proton or a Porsche, I'm just as enthused to explore the insides and outs of either.
But not SUVs. I can't stomach the stupid things. Some are stylish, especially the Rangie Evoque, but I otherwise find them to be a complete farce. Their higher center of gravity means there's nothing 'Sports' about them. Or fun. A high roof-line also gives the impression of more internal space but compared to equivalent sedans in their price bracket, they're usually less spacious, lesser equipped. And do you really go utility-ing in them, mister Jeep owner?
Now ordinarily I wouldn't be so upset by the ever increasing presence of the SUV upon Australia's motoring landscape. But it's been at the expense of the humble medium/large sedan and wagon which were always up to the task and often much more fun to drive. So imagine my joy when, upon embarking on my family car search, my wife gave me free reign with no preference given to SUVs. The scheming beings.
Mostly, we wanted something with a wide/tall boot opening. Sedans were out and most hatches only come in the small size category. So sexy 'sport-wagon' it would be. Not 'station-wagon', that's not the way to go about putting these cars back on the radar, people.
Shopping was made easy as thanks again to SUVs my choices were pretty limited. The Europeans still had taste and were making wagons. But I found most overpriced and under-equipped thanks to the manufacturer cash-cow that is optional extras. So it was down to Korea, Japan and Australia and eventually I was led to the 2013 Mazda 6 Sport Wagon.
Who was I kidding though. When I saw it in 2012 this car shot straight to the top of my wagon list. Included in the $34000 price were sat-nav, Bluetooth, reversing camera, push button start, mp3 connectivity, dual zone climate and cruise control. Tick for value-for-money. Frustratingly there's no door handle operated keyless entry.
Sex sells and Mazda have nailed the sport-wagon look with style. It wouldn't have mattered if it had otherworldly interior space, I'd still need to look at it and there's nothing attractive about boxy 70s style wagons.
With this new GJ series Mazda's really matured in both exterior and interior styling. A sleek, chrome surround glass-house along with a buff stance and blunt front end give this car real presence. Stick an Audi badge on it and you could sneak it into their showroom and buyers wouldn't blink.
Inside continues that maturity as well. Little touches of painted chrome complement a harmonious, simple yet stunning dash and interior layout. There's a real perceptible feel of genuine quality inside, it's leaps ahead of the previous Mazda6. There are however some dumb storage decisions. There's only drink bottle holders and not side pockets in the front doors. And the center armrest bin is just one big hole, no upper tray or coin holder.
Where it also scores is the boot. Bag hooks and storage bins, tie-down anchors and a nifty cargo net that hooks up to the ceiling to partition the boot from the back seats for maximum packing space. 522 litres also means it'll fit four golf bags. I know this because Mazda even provides illustration in their manual. Yes, I read the manual.
The Mazda is more comfortable tourer than hard sports family wagon. 138kw and 250Nm means it's no slouch and its suspension setup makes it capable of tackling your favourite twisty road with good control and composure. Mazda knows you have a pulse too and includes paddle shifters for the auto. It works brilliantly and sways my purchasing decision away from Ford's products and their dumb toggle-button 'Powershift' autos. Marketing power-s**t really. But its weight, especially noticeable over the front, means it's really better enjoyed at a medium pace.
Real world fuel economy averages 8.5L/100km, a bit shy of Mazda's 6.6L/100km claim. My style of driving probably doesn't help, it's that rev-able engine with its nice raspy metallic note.
To sum it up this wagon has mature good looks, drives with enthusiasm and ticks all your storage needs. It also justifies my position on SUVs. I mean, its CX-5 cousin only has 403L for its boot. How am I supposed to fit my four golf bags in that dammit? If manufacturers can make sport-wagons as convincing as this one then I reckon they're due for a come-back. Down with SUVs, viva la sport-wagon.