Weighing things up

A quick assessment of our wagonís pros and cons

JAMES WHITBOURN

OurGarage

ALLOW me to take this monthís update to visit (and revisit) some of the 6ís awesome Ė and annoying Ė features. You know, the ones that prompt a spontaneous fist pump, or four-letter word.

Letís start on a positive. The pairing of turbo-diesel and six-speed auto is perhaps the best aspect of the car. I donít think Iíd be quite so sold on the 6 as a 2.5-litre petrol, which I reckon is only 60 percent the car (thatís the percentage it has of the dieselís torque). In the same spec, the petrol is $2850 cheaper, and itís available in Sport form (which the diesel is not) for $6890 less.

Itís more frenetic and a bit thirstier than the oiler, but thanks to range-wide engine advancements under the broad SkyActiv banner, itís actually excellent, too.

My only real drivetrain complaint with the Diesel is that the transmission can thump into first when the wagon is rolling to a stop.

Itís a calibration stumble in an otherwise seamlessly refined experience, and not a deal-breaker.

The Rear Cross Traffic Alert has proved invaluable. It looks left and right for moving objects that would be almost impossible to see from the driverís seat Ė cars, bikes and pedestrians approaching rapidly at rightangles Ė and alerts the driver theyíre there. It beats the old-school method of backing out slowly while hoping for the best.

Either I cut people off all the time, or the blind-spot indicator system is over-cautious.

If the warning beep that woke a sleeping baby girl (who woke her sister) was actually necessary, it wouldnít bother me quite so much. Mind you, in the 6ís defence, even the indicator tick, which isnít excessively loud, has woken her little ladyship, so maybe itís more a Lucy problem than a Mazda one.

To me, the omission of keyless entry is a fail in an otherwise emphatically practical $40K family car. So is the lack of ignitionswitched headlights in any car.

The idle-stop rarely kicks in because I donít press the brake pedal hard enough, and Iím still not certain if this is a calibration problem or a deliberate attempt to give the driver control over the system. Itís probably explained in the ownerís manual, which I donít have.

Other beefs? In the wet the tyres grip like an eel, the wagon hasnít washed itself once, and dreams involving me, a Mazda, a vivacious blonde and a nocturnal brunette havenít quite played out.

MAZDA 6 TOURING WAGON DIESEL WAG MAZ

Date acquired: June 2014 Price as tested: $41,650 This month: 281km @ 9.1L/100km Overall: 4473km @ 6.8L/100km Over

Mazda bait

I WROTE in November that the sale of my seventh RX-7 ďcould mark the end of me and Mazdas for a while.Ē The weasel words proved prophetic. Either Ďcouldí means Ďwonítí, or Ďa whileí is roughly six weeks. RX-7 number eight, a 1979 model like its new owner, had me at ĎFor Saleí. Itís not as much fun as the departed track car, but came without the rust, patchy paint and shitty interior. As for our future, well, I know better than to go making any predictions.

COPPING A SPRAY

ECU runs the diesel with enviable refinement, but cops a spray if you overshoot the washer bottle spout