When Mazda designers sat down to pen the third generation of the Mazda6 they obviously had an inspirational day.

Because the result is a stunning piece of automotive design that would sit well in the BMW, Jaguar or Audi stables.

Hide the badge and most people are unsure what brand it is but they are sure that it’s a “very upmarket car” and perhaps more importantly they are sure that they like it.

Elegant lines and curves in all the right places disguise the fact that this Mazda is a large car, offering plenty of space for passengers in both the front and rear seats.

And it’s not just inside where there’s plenty of room. Open the boot and you’re faced with a cavernous luggage area that will cater for the largest of families setting off on their annual holiday.

The Mazda6 is available with a choice of two 2.0-litre petrol engines and two 2.2-litre diesels, and I opted to sample the more powerful of the petrol twins, the 165bhp model.

Get behind the wheel and everything falls comfortably to hand thanks to plenty of adjustment on both the steering wheel and the electrically powered – and heated – seats. The dashboard is more functional than flash although the prevalent black area is neatly broken up by wood effect inlay.

Three traditional dials are set into a deep binnacle – ensuring you can read them even in the brightest of conditions – with the speedometer in the centre, rev counter to the left and information dial to the right.

Mazda6 Sport Nav
Mazda6 Sport Nav
 

A Tom Tom sat nav sits high in the centre of the dashboard with heating controls below in an easily accessible position – unlike some cars today where you have to take your eyes off the road for several seconds to operate them.

Turn the key and the 2.0-litre engine is smooth and refined and even under pressure is pleasantly quiet.

On the road the car has a nice sporting feel to it. It’s light to drive but always feels well planted on the road and I liked the light but positive steering once I had got used to it.

With a 0-62 miles per hour acceleration time of just over nine seconds, The Mazda6 is best described as responsive rather than quick but never really feels lacking as long as you keep the revs up and aren’t afraid to use the gearbox.

Even driving it hard, the Mazda6 is good on fuel consumption, with this petrol model bettering many diesels I have driven.

The economy is boosted by Mazda’s unique i-LOOP system, which cleverly turns the kinetic energy created by braking into electricity to power the numerous on-board systems. That means that’s one less thing for the engine to do so it can direct all its power to driving the car.

The system is just one of numerous innovations on the Mazda6 which make it different to its competitors and makes it a car worth taking a close look at if you are in the market for a large, very stylish sporty saloon.

Fast Facts

Model: Mazda6 Sport Nav

Basic price: £24,195

Mechanical: 1998cc, 4 cyl, 165 bhp petrol engine driving front wheels via 6spd manual gearbox.

Max speed: 134 mph

0-62 mph: 9.1 secs

Combined mpg: 47.9

CO2 emissions: 135 g/km

Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles