For the animal in you . . .

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The third generation Mazda6 builds on the success of its predecessor with sharper styling, better attention to quality and some very economical engines. Factor in a lot of kit and accessible pricing and it looks a potential winner.

The line-up of SKYACTIV powerplants includes two petrol engines making their debut in the Mazda6 and two diesels. Most are available with i-ELOOP, Mazda’s brake energy regeneration system, as well as i-stop, an advanced idle-stop system.

The petrol engines comprise 145 and 165PS versions of the 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder direct injection unit, with the 2.2-litre SKYACTIV-D diesel engine available in either 150 or 175PS versions. All versions are front-wheel drive, feature 62-litre fuel tanks, and are mated to six-speed manual gearboxes as standard with a six-speed auto as an option.

The chassis that underpins the Mazda6 is a development of that which first debuted on the CX-5 SUV. It’s been lengthened for this application and optimised for the lower and lighter car. Keeping weight out of key components has been one of the major design priorities and the Mk3 Mazda6 gets lighter yet stiffer front and rear suspension systems.

The Japanese engineers have done their best to bring the alertness of the first Mazda6 back to this bigger third generation car.

I make no apology for quoting directly from Mazda’s press material here because..... well, you’ll see. “Saloon or estate, the new Mazda6 is the purest adaptation yet of the ‘KODO - Soul of Motion’ design theme, which was inspired by the movements of animals in the wild and symbolises Mazda’s distinctive vitality and agility.” Now, I’m looking at the Mazda6 right now and to me it doesn’t look like a bounding cheetah or a swooping peregrine. Or even a roosting nuthatch. It looks like a family car. A good looking one albeit, with the front end boasting a bolder interpretation of the Mazda family face, sweeping front wheel arches and a rear-set cabin with the windscreen pillars moved back 100mm when compared to the outgoing car. It all makes it look, I concede, a bit more muscular and athletic.

The economy of the engines is eye-catching, too.