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Mazda 6 G35 wagon 2023 review

Daniel Gardner

Mazda’s venerable 6 wagon soldiers on as a viable family car alternative and an antidote to SUV addiction

Good points

  • Quiet, strong turbo engine
  • GT-style mile-munching ability
  • Premium cabin
  • Generous boot space
  • Rewarding B-road manners
  • Good standard equipment

Needs work

  • Low-res reversing camera
  • Dated, small 8-inch screen
  • No diesel/AWD for towing duties
  • No adaptive cruise for Sport or Touring
  • Wireless mirroring for CarPlay only

For many, the allure of an SUV is too strong to resist and the promise of far-flung adventures and bountiful practicality is enough to seal the deal for a new car.

But Australia’s favourite class of vehicle is not the only path to functionality and versatility in a family car.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 rear 3/4

Among a shrinking few, wagons can deliver many of the practical features that SUVs most frequently brag, as well as a couple of attributes they can’t.

The Mazda 6 is one such example and although the current version has been around for the best part of a decade, a light 2023 refresh is keeping the model looking sharp as well as marking a significant milestone.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 front

We saddled up the most powerful petrol version to see if a longstanding wagon from a trusted Japanese brand has what it takes to get the family’s approval in a fight against the draw of the sports utility vehicle.

Only the higher grade versions were available to sample for our time with the Mazda 6 at its Australian launch program.

What are the Mazda 6 G35 wagon’s features and options for the price?

The Mazda 6 is on offer in a choice of five grades and in both sedan and wagon forms.

Opt for the entry G25 Sport or G25 Touring and it’ll arrive with a 140kW/252Nm 2.5-litre non-turbo petrol engine, whereas G35 GT SP and above get a more muscular 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol with 173kW and 420Nm.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 interior 2

Those variants include the G35 GT SP, G35 Atenza as well as a new 20th Anniversary special edition which is introduced with the 2023 update to mark two decades of Mazda’s midsize passenger model.

All versions now feature an 8.0-inch central information and entertainment screen, and smartphone mirroring for both Android and Apple devices although only CarPlay is offered with wireless connectivity.

The sedan Sport costs $35,540 and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, fabric upholstery, a leather steering wheel and gear selector combination, keyless engine start, while the wagon shares the specification and costs $36,840.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 wheel

Above that, the Touring adds to the standard specification with LED DRLs, black leather upholstery and power adjustment for the front seats, Bose sound system and keyless entry for $40,210, while the wagon costs $41,510.

Stepping up to the mid-range G35 GT SP costs $48,440 for the sedan or $49,740 for the wagon and brings the more powerful turbo engine, a selection of black exterior styling touches including 19-inch wheels and adaptive cruise control that integrates stop-start functionality.

The GT SP also includes adaptive LED headlights, seat heaters for the first and second rows and burgundy leather upholstery.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 driving front 3/4 2

Above that, the Atenza was formerly the top of the Mazda 6 pack and now offers a sunroof, nappa leather upholstery, matching roof liner and ventilated front seats, ambient cabin illumination, 7.0-inch digital driver’s information display, a heated steering wheel, 360-degree camera and higher grade interior panel finishes.

The Atenza sedan costs $51,840 while the wagon is priced at $53,140.

At the top of town, the new commemorative Mazda 6 20th Anniversary adds to the Atenza equipment with high-gloss silver finish 19-inch wheels and grille, and a cabin upholstered in a combination of Leganu synthetic hide and nappa leather with 20th Anniversary embossed head rests.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 badge 2

It also features 20th Anniversary badges on the front wings while a choice of two special Rhodium White and Artisan Red paint colours are included in the $53,635 (sedan) or $54,935 (wagon) pricing, which would otherwise attract a $795 premium if applied to any other grade.

As is typical for the Japanese brand, special paint is the only option available.

Despite its age, Mazda has done a decent job refreshing the 6 throughout its lifecycle and it still manages to look handsome on the outside while maintaining premiumness on the inside. With only minimal price increases over that period, the entire range represents compelling value.

How does the Mazda 6 G35 wagon drive?

With a car’s low centre of gravity combined with decent power and torque figures, the Mazda 6 has always offered a respectable driving experience and there are a handful of enhancements for the 2023 update that improve things even further.

For a start, the electric power steering has been revised for more feel and precision and although the turn-in isn’t the most razor-like we’ve experienced, the front end is confident with reasonable grip.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 driving front

The turbocharged engine has been gently squeezed to liberate an extra three kilowatts, taking peak power to 173kW and while torque remains the same at a gutsy 420Nm it lasts longer through the rev range before dropping off at 4250rpm.

While smaller capacity rivals manage more impressive turbo power outputs, the Mazda’s Skyactiv G engine has been calibrated for grunt and efficiency rather than rev-wringing outright power, and its effortless nature combined with exceptionally low noise is a testament to this.

The throttle pedal has been subjected to what Mazda describes as revised ‘pedal for characteristics’ which could be code for a different return spring, while an updated program for the six-speed automatic transmission rounds out the engineering work.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 engine

The automatic still only has six gears which, with the advent of 10-speed units seems a little miserly by today’s standards. But the wider torque curve of the turbo engine has certainly helped to mitigate the lack of forward ratios.

Each of the enhancements are subtle but the net result is a well-rounded refresh of the 6’s driving manners that remain superior to many SUVs that might be on the same consideration list.

It’s also worth mentioning that the more practical wagon (506-litre boot vs sedan’s 474L) is also the dynamic pick out of the pair.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 driving rear 3/4

Interestingly, the sedan has a longer wheelbase and greater overall length which is a win for sedan second row passengers, but the wagon still offers ample space for adults in the back combined with the best manners in corners.

There are other cars such as the Skoda Octavia wagon that have a more aggressive chassis tune and a driving experience more akin to a hot hatch, but that doesn’t mean that the turbo Mazda 6 isn’t worthy of comparison.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 driving front 3/4

For less enthusiastic driving, the Mazda offers a deeply relaxing cabin with excellent NVH levels, a chassis tune that’s adept at suppressing noise as well as absorbing nasty imperfections in the road.

With a maximum towing capacity of 1600kg and diesel-like torque, the Mazda 6 would haul lighter duty trailers and small caravans. But without the fuel efficiency of a diesel and all-wheel drive it certainly can’t compete with a good number of SUV alternatives out here.

What is the Mazda 6 G35 wagon’s interior and tech like?

With a driver’s head-up display and central 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster flanked by traditional analogue dials, the Mazda 6 Atenza just manages to avoid looking redundant, however its 8.0-inch central screen companion is looking a little small for today’s expectations, while the graphics date the model even further.

Redemption is found in the form of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which obviously transforms the look of the display.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 steering wheel

However, only Apple devices can be mirrored wirelessly, which undermines the relevance of wireless device charging that is now also included as standard for variants from the Touring upwards.

That aside, the cabin ambience is excellent with comfortable seats in both rows, good quality upholstery regardless of the variant and the 20th Anniversary combination of nappa leather and synthetic suede is very premium.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 interior front seat

Still, there are touches that reveal the model’s age, with some materials that don’t quite live up to the standard set by more recent Mazda models.

And while there are plenty of USB charging points, the lack of contemporary USB-C sockets is another indication of the model’s vintage.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 interior back seat
Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 boot

If outright second row space is a priority then the sedan is the pick, with a longer wheelbase translating to the most rear passenger room. However, the wagon still offers ample accommodation for two-plus-one adults and enough head, leg and knee room for even taller people.

It also gains credit for a space-saver spare wheel and not the dreaded can of sealant and compressor.

Is the Mazda 6 G35 wagon a safe car?

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mazda 6 the full five-star rating when the third-generation was updated in 2018.

As the model has not been significantly changed for the most recent update, ANCAP will not be retesting the 2023 version.

Mazda 6 ANCAP

It scored well for occupant protection with six airbags, and the inclusion of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) which functions in all driving situations including recognising pedestrians and cyclists.

As standard, the Mazda 6 includes a good list of driver assistance technology from its i-Activsense suite including adaptive cruise control, which was introduced with the 2023 update if only for GT SP variants and above.

Other standard inclusions are driver attention monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors all round and tyre-pressure monitoring.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 driving front 3/4 4

While the list of standard safety equipment is comprehensive and worthy of praise, not all of it works as well in practice.

In all versions, the reversing camera resolution is just about worst in class even when the 360-degree version is fitted, and while lane departure warning is a welcome feature it often nags even when the driver has indicated to change lanes.

What are the Mazda 6 G35 wagon’s ownership costs?

The official claim for fuel consumption of Mazda 6s fitted with the turbo petrol is 7.6 litres per 100km. Ours reported a figure of 9.3L/100km, which is reasonable given the more enthusiastic driving it was subjected to and on more undulating country roads.

For the naturally aspirated versions, Mazda claims a lower figure of 7.0L/100km although a Mazda 6 G25 sedan support car on our trip reported a figure in the mid-sixes, which is commendable.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 badge

Service intervals are 15,000km or 12 months with the first and fifth scheduled visits costing $354, the second $528, this $439, while the fourth is the most expensive at $830.

Total servicing costs over the first five years is $2505, although Mazda does not guarantee those costs will not change during that period.

Warranty is five years of unlimited-kilometre coverage.

The honest verdict on the Mazda 6 G35 wagon

In an increasingly SUV-centric world, the Mazda 6 soldiers on as a beacon of opportunity and alternatives for those who place driving enjoyment high up the list of priorities when selecting a family car.

With generous boots in both body styles and solid lists of standard equipment, the turbocharged variants that comprise the upper half of the lineup represent an excellent balance of practicality and decent driving reward, albeit at a cost to towing credentials if that’s something of consideration.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 side

And while the model has perhaps not advanced the cause as much as some other Mazda models, the 6 is a great option for those who don’t necessarily want to ride the frothy edge of a wave of progress and technological spearhead.

Mazda reports that a good chunk of 6 customers are existing owners and a lightly updated version is likely to be exactly what a returning customer demands.

This most recent revisit of the model highlights perhaps a missed opportunity for the model. Mazda also doesn’t market the Mazda 6 as some kind of sports hero with more subtle styling that leans instead into luxury and comfort.

Mazda 6 20th Anniversary 2023 front 3/4

But with its excellent engine and respectable performance combined with balanced handling and comfort, this wagon punches harder than it looks.

As enjoyable driver’s wagon numbers dwindle, the higher-grade Mazda 6 versions certainly deserve to be in the same field as offerings that are intended for the twisty B-roads. It’s a bit of a sleeper.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

2488 cc
173kW at 5000rpm
420Nm at 2000rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
62 litres
7.6L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
815km (claimed)
Front Wheel Drive
4800 mm
1840 mm
1450 mm
Unoccupied weight
1627 kg

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