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Mazda 6 2023 review: 20th Anniversary wagon

The special 20th Anniversary Edition Mazda6 wagon shows its history but what about its future?

Has it really been 20 years since the humble Mazda6 station wagon hit our roads? You betcha, but I was more shocked that I remembered when it did!

I have a sudden flashback of questionable fashion choices, glittery butterfly hair clips and how Skipper was making a play at being the coolest 'Barbie' (she wasn't).

I've always had a soft spot for wagons, they are the forgotten heroes for family hauling. It's hard not to glide over them when the market is dominated by SUVs but if you happen to remember they still exist (albeit, barely) you might remember why they were popular back in the day.

Being a 20th Anniversary Edition means there are some nods to the past in this model but unlike the low-slung jeans of my youth, they're stylishly done. With some luxuriously-appointed rivals to contend with, like the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Passat, does it offer enough to be considered by a modern family?

My little family of three has been in it all week to find out for you!

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

As the name suggests, this is a special edition and it bumps the Atenza from its usual 'top spot' in the model line-up. Yet, for a top-model it is spectacularly well-priced at $54,935, before on-road costs.

That places it below the Volkswagen Passat 162TSI Elegance ($57,190) and above the Skoda Octavia RS 180TSI ($53,090) wagons.

You get all of the features of the Atenza, like the luxurious heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel and a sunroof.

  • Surprisingly, the dashboard is still headlined by the older 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. Surprisingly, the dashboard is still headlined by the older 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system.
  • It also features synthetic suede trims and special embossing on the front headrests. It also features synthetic suede trims and special embossing on the front headrests.
  • It features a heated steering wheel. It features a heated steering wheel.
  • Other features include some nice tech, like wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto. Other features include some nice tech, like wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto.

Then, you'll also be enjoying the 20th Anniversary badging on the exterior, tan Nappa leather seats with that same badging embossed on the headrests and a delightful synthetic suede trim on the dashboard.

Other features include some nice tech, like wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, dual-zone climate control and a premium Bose sound system with 11 speakers, but more on tech below.

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

At first glance there's not a lot that separates this from its siblings, it's not until you get up close that you notice more shiny chrome accents on the grille, those special anniversary badges on the side and its limited colour options – I hope you like red or white, as those are your only choices!

The wagon manages to look sporty with its 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED exterior lights and the classic protruding nose that Mazda seems known for now.

  • The special 20th Anniversary Edition Mazda6 wagon shows its history but what about its future? The special 20th Anniversary Edition Mazda6 wagon shows its history but what about its future?
  • At first glance there’s not a lot that separates this from its siblings, it’s not until you get up close that you notice more shiny chrome accents on the grille, those special anniversary badges on the side and its limited colour options. At first glance there’s not a lot that separates this from its siblings, it’s not until you get up close that you notice more shiny chrome accents on the grille, those special anniversary badges on the side and its limited colour options.
  • The wagon manages to look sporty with its 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED exterior lights and the classic protruding nose. The wagon manages to look sporty with its 19-inch alloy wheels, full LED exterior lights and the classic protruding nose.
  • I hope you like red or white, as those are your only choices! I hope you like red or white, as those are your only choices!

It's far more obvious in the interior though with the beautiful tan Nappa leather seats, synthetic suede trims and special embossing on the front headrests.

Surprisingly, the dashboard is still headlined by the older 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. There's also the traditional gear-shifter and buttons/dials to deal with. All of which manage to nod to its long history while starting to feel like relics for such a special edition.

Overall, its pleasant and handsome but don't expect to be wowed, Mazda hasn't broken new ground with this one.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

The interior is comfortable and well-proportioned but front passengers will enjoy the most room. You'll still feel like you'll be jostling for premium armrest position, though!

Up front, the individual storage is adequate and the open utility tray is large but my phone slid around in it, making it hard to use the wireless charging pad.

There are enough charging options throughout the car to satisfy four people, with two USB-A ports in each row. Curiously, you can only utilise the backseat USBs when the armrest is down, which makes this feel more suited to a smaller family.

The interior is comfortable and well-proportioned but front passengers will enjoy the most room. The interior is comfortable and well-proportioned but front passengers will enjoy the most room.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen is small and the graphics aren't super clear. You can use it as a touchscreen or opt for the rotary dial but I found switching between the two awkward. Especially, since the touchscreen is disabled while using the (wireless) Apple CarPlay or (wired) Android Auto.

The back seat is quite lean when it comes to amenities and storage. Although, the heated outboard seats are a nice touch, but again, you can only access the controls when the armrest is down.

You can fit up to three (skinny) child seats but with the low roofline, you might not want to be bending over to buckle them in.  The door apertures are not too wide either but my six-year-old had no trouble climbing in and out.

The back seat is quite lean when it comes to amenities and storage. The back seat is quite lean when it comes to amenities and storage.

For this class, the boot is an okay size at 506L. There is a temporary spare wheel under the level loading space and it's great how the cargo-blind lifts up and away from the space because it's attached to the boot lid.

Unfortunately, this doesn't come with a powered tailgate and I did miss having that feature this week.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

This shares the same engine with the Atenza and that's a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol one. It has a max power output of 173kW and 420Nm of torque. Plenty of oomph to get you (and your gear) to where you need to go.

The 20th Anniversary edition is a front-wheel-drive and has a six-speed auto transmission. It's not the smoothest combination at lower speeds but let it stretch its legs and you'll be happy with the results.

This shares the same engine with the Atenza and that’s a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol one. This shares the same engine with the Atenza and that’s a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-petrol one.

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

Let's talk about efficiency. It has a combined cycle fuel figure of 7.6L/100km but I only managed to achieve 10.9L. I reckon that's pretty thirsty considering how much open-road driving I did this week but it's not outrageous for a turbo. Expect a higher figure in an urban setting.

Based on the combined figure, you should be able to get a driving range of around 816km, which is perfectly respectable for those wanting to do a road trip.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

This is a car that knows what it is and stays in its lane. It's not trying to be the best but it certainly comes close with how it handles itself.

The lower centre of gravity and responsive steering make it hug corners and the car feels firmly situated on the road.

There's enough power that this is a comfy open-roader and you're confident overtaking or getting up to speed but you do feel like you're starting to dig when you hit steeper slopes.

The suspension is a little firm but your backseat passengers will feel that more than you will. Still, it absorbs enough of the bumps that you feel cushioned, even on rough country roads!

The cabin space is fairly quiet but you will get wind noise at higher speeds. Otherwise, all passengers should be able to chat without raising their voices.

I didn't find this to be a bother to park but the 360-degree view camera is terrible. It's very blurry and on the 8.0-inch screen, the image looks small, too.

That said, I love the 11m turning circle and the front and rear parking sensors. Overall, you won't have much trouble parking this one.

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Safety is important on any car, but more so on a family one. I'm happy this has the usual specs, like daytime running lights, lane keeping aid, lane departure alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, 360-degree view camera, front and rear parking sensors and intelligent seatbelt reminders.

I like the fact the adaptive cruise control now has a stop and go function and that traffic sign recognition and a head-up display are included.

The autonomous emergency braking (and forward collision warning) with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection, is operational from 10–80km/h (a little slower than the average 5.0km/h).

I didn’t find this to be a bother to park but the 360-degree view camera is terrible. I didn’t find this to be a bother to park but the 360-degree view camera is terrible.

It has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating but it was done a while ago in 2018. It only has six airbags which is a bit low for a family vehicle now but that does include curtain airbags covering both rows.

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard rear seats and three top-tether anchor points across the back. You may get lucky with three skinny child seats but two will fit best.

A 0-4 rearward facing child seat can be installed but will encroach on front passenger comfort, especially if they're tall.

There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats plus three top tether anchor points. There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard seats plus three top tether anchor points.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

The ongoing costs match the purchase price for their affordability. This has a five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is pretty normal for this class.

However, on the five-year servicing plan, services average $501 per service - which is very competitive for this class! Servicing intervals are also reasonable at every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first.

You're not even getting hit with the fuel pricing you can see on other mid-range models because this accepts a minimum of 91 RON petrol and is even E10 suitable.

This has a five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is pretty normal for this class. This has a five-year/unlimited km warranty, which is pretty normal for this class.


The Wrap

So, what did my family think about the Mazda6 20th Anniversary wagon? Firstly, I like that it drives well and how many luxe features are up front. The trims and body paint look divine but there's a disconnect with family practicality in the back seat. Besides the multimedia system, which 100 per cent needs to be improved, I don't mind the retro-feeling elements in the cockpit but my husband's first comment was that it looked old.

It may be better suited to a smaller and older family that isn't carting around a stack of gear but you get a lot of features for your cash in this model. So, this gets a 7.0/10 from me.

My son didn't spend heaps of time in this one but he liked the colour of it and the seats. He gives it a 7.0/10.

Likes

Interior trims feel plush
Smooth and sporty handling
Solid luxury features

Dislikes

Leaning more towards old than retro inside
A bit thirsty
Terrible reversing camera

Scores

Emily:

3.5

The Kids:

3.5

$54,935

Based on new car retail price

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