Dirty business

Time to clear the grime and send it back

JAMES WHITBOURN

OurGarage

THERE comes a time when every car has to go to make space – and funds – for the next one. Or, in the case of our 6 wagon, it has to go back to Mazda because its six months on the Garage fleet is up.

Of all the cars I’ve had over the years, there have been few that I wouldn’t have hung on to if I could’ve. I’m almost always reluctant to let go of cars. At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s usually because I like driving them, but there have been one or two dud drives I’ve been happy to see the tail-lights of.

With the 6, it’s different. I’ll be sad to see it go because it fits my life so well, and the relative driving fun it offers has been a plus. Nevertheless, if you had seen it lately, you’d be forgiven for thinking I don’t like it at all. The outside is coated in grime and the interior is littered with dirt and leaves and splattered with baby vomit.

The filth is merely a sign of the busy service into which the Mazda has been pressed, and the looming pre-return wash and vacuum will be my belated thanks for ferrying the family in safety and refinement.

At the outset of this test I dreaded the diesel bowser. But in just under 5000km, I only filled the tank seven times, and it wasn’t so bad. More than just helping me face an irrational fear, the wagon has made a turbo-diesel convert of me, which was about time given that I list ‘torque’ and ‘saving money’ as interests.

Based on the official figures, the 6 Diesel is about 20 percent better on fuel than the petrol version (and even more than that in the real world), which is about $150 saved (and $600 spent) over the six months. Okay, at that rate the extra $2850 for the oiler would take a while to recoup, but 420Nm is a big upside; that extra 170Nm is worth every cent.

The other day I bought a top-loader, and it wasn’t a gearbox. As long as it cleans our clothes, I’ll be happy. But I expect more than mere functionality from my cars. The Mazda 6 Touring, despite being the same colour as our new Fisher & Paykel, elevates itself above whitegoods by bringing a level of appeal and enthusiasm to the family wagon role. I’d keep it, if I had the choice.

MAZDA 6 TOURING WAGON DIESEL WAG MAZ

Date acquired: June 2014 Price as tested: $41,650 This month: 387km @ 7.9L/100km Overall: 4860km @ 6.9L/100km Over

i-stop, therefore I save

I’VE complained that the wagon’s i-stop doesn’t always kick in; it seems I don’t press the brake pedal hard enough. But the trip computer says the 2.2-litre twin-turbo diesel has spent more than an hour and a half stopped over six months – or about a second for each kay driven – so the system has played its part in the 6’s sub-9.0L/100km urban figures. Elsewhere, the capacitor-based i-eloop energy regeneration system had its hand in the 5.6L/100km highway best.

MAKING THE GRADE

Six-speed auto’s terrific downshift calibration works to deliver the right ratio and engine braking for the gradient