2011 Mazda 6 Takuya Review

Our new car
We bought a new Mazda 6 Takuya in September 2011 to replace our previous Mazda 6 TS, which we had owned from new for over 9 years. It was a limited edition model in 'Velocity Red' with a 2.2l diesel engine.

Our first Mazda 6 was one of the first of the new style cars into the UK and was a 2.0l petrol engined estate car. It was just about the perfect family car in many respects. The only things that let it down were the lack of iPod/iPhone integration, emergence of rust (after 9 years) and the average 33mpg achieved over this period. The rust was a known issue with Mazdas from this period, which doesn't seem to affect later cars.

This time we decided to buy the hatchback version. Our children have grown up and we rarely need to carry much large stuff around. The estate was great for carrying a double buggy and all the stuff associated with two young children. This new car has a lot more leg room for passengers in the rear. If we really need to carry more, we simply put the roof box on.

The Mazda 6 is a perfect family car in many respects:

  • Decent sized estate or hatchback with a huge boot.
  • Well equipped for the price with all the basics (ABS, air-bags, etc.).
  • Nice car to drive with responsive steering and good feedback, whilst being comfortable and relaxing.
  • 2.0l petrol engine for decent performance, even when fully loaded.
  • Front wheel drive for safety in all weather conditions.
  • Climate control for all year usage.
  • Roof bars (on estate version) for easy attachment of roof bars, roof box, etc.

The Takuya is a limited edition Mazda 6 and features a higher level of standard equipment. This includes:

  • 6-speed gear box - Great for relaxed cruising on the motorway. The 6th gear is tall and results in very good fuel economy. At 70mph the engine is doing about 2000rpm.
  • 18" alloy wheels that are unique to this car.
  • Rear spoiler, deeper side skirts and sports radiator grille.
  • Cruise control - pretty much an essential on a family car.
  • Dual-zone climate control - not sure how useful the 'dual zone' bit is but the climate control works very well and manages to maintain a very even and constant temperature throughout the car.
  • Very good sound system with full iPhone/iPod Bluetooth integration. This is really impressive and the voice dialling for iPhones works really well.
  • Privacy glass - Rear window and rear side windows are a darker tint. These are not as dark as those in our Ford Fiesta though.
  • Rain sensing windscreen wipers - always considered these a gimmick up till now but, they work really well and would look for them on my next car.

  • Automatic lights - These are surprisingly useful and we leave then set to 'auto'.
  • Automatic dim on rear view mirror - one of those things you would miss if it was taken away.
  • Heated seats - my wife likes them, I have used them once or twice.
  • Premium floor mats.
  • Dual front and side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags.
  • Emergency stop signaling system.
  • Dynamic stability control and traction control.

The only thing missing that we would have really liked included are rear parking sensors.

Options & Accessories

There are very few options and accessories available on the Takuya special edition model but these are the main ones of interest to us:

Boot Liner

Boot liner fitted
When we bought our first Mazda 6, we also bought the 'full' boot liner. This is a thick (~3mm) molded rubber lining with a lip that goes up about 5cm all the way around the edge of the boot. It is simply brilliant at containing spills and dirt and can simply be removed to clean with a pressure washer. It was a 'no brainer' to buy one of these for our new car and it cost approximately £55.

Spare Wheel

Mazda 6 cars don't come with a spare wheel any more. Not even a 'space saver', as supplied with our last car. Instead, you get a can of repair sealant and an electric pump. We don't like the idea of either of these. Tyre sealants make a right mess and some tyre fitting places will refuse to repair tyres that have been filled with a tyre sealant. We would much rather use a simple and reliable foot pump. Having said that, the electric pump supplied with the car is very good and when inflating tyres from 'normal' load settings to 'full' load settings it is much quicker and easier to use the supplied electric pump.

Spare wheel
There is a well in the boot for a spare wheel and it is big enough to hold a full-sized spare. Mazda want approximately £260 for a matching alloy wheel for our car. An added complication is that it contains a wireless sender that provides a signal back to the dash if the tyre pressure drops below a certain level. Mazda only sell these senders as a set of four and a set costs £190!

Tyre pressure sensor unit
We bought a second-hand spare wheel to match those on the car via eBay. It cost £112 and it turned out it was new and had never had a tyre fitted. It even had the tyre pressure sensor valve fitted. Bargain! We have mounted a non-directional tyre on it (so it can be fitted to either side of the car). It will only ever be used in emergencies. Now you can argue that this is the best part of £200 wasted if it never gets used but, if I only use it once it will have saved me a whole load of grief and inconvenience and it is much safer.

Spare wheel in wheel well
Proof that a spare wheel will fit in the wheel well, under the boot floor.

Winter Tyres

With our last Mazda 6, we bought a spare set of matching alloy wheels and imported some proper winter tyres. You can read our thoughts on winter tyres here. You need to check your insurance company is happy for you to fit winter tyres. Our insurer (Admiral) were fine with this and stated that they also thought it made the car safer to drive.

The current wheels are 18" in diameter (marked 18 x 71 2J 60) and fitted with 225/45R18 tyres. The slightly odd '71 2J' means these rims are 7.5" width and have a J rim profile where the tyre meets the rim. These have a calculated rolling diameter of 25.97" or 660mm (measured and confirmed as 660mm). Our old winter wheels are 16" in diameter (marked 16 x 7.0 JJ 55) and were fitted with Goodyear Ultragrip 7+ 205/55R16 tyres. These have a calculated rolling diameter of 24.88" or 632mm (measured and confirmed as 632mm). Although the wheel offset is OK and the wheels fit and have good clearance on the brakes and suspension parts, the difference in rolling diameter is simply too much. There is lots more information on wheel and tyre markings here.

Goodyear Ultragrip 8 winter tyres.
We sold our existing winter tyres (for £250) and decided to fit 205/60R16 winter tyres on our existing 16" spare wheels. This will result in a rolling diameter of 25.69" or 652mm. This is a negligible difference of only -1.25%.

We replaced them with a set of Goodyear Ultragrip 8 winter tyres this time. They are a newer version and have had even better reviews. They cost us £480 fitted. It sounds a lot but we expected them to last at least six years and save on summer tyre wear as well.

With the summer and winter wheels side by side, there is no visible difference in rolling diameters. We weighed both the summer and winter wheel/tyre combinations and both weigh in at 19.5Kg per corner.

Tyre Pressure Gauge

Race X Professional Tyre Pressure Gauge
On the subject of wheels and tyres we have used 'Race X Professional' tyre pressure gauges for many years. These type of gauges are the best available and provide accurate and repeatable readings.

Foot Pump

Michelin single barrel footpump
We also use and recommend the Michelin single barrel footpump.

Roof Rack

Aside from the huge boot, the one advantage of our old estate car was that it came with roof bars. This made fitting a roof rack and roof box a quick and simple task. This new car has mounting points for a roof rack (under sliding covers) and we bought the Thule footpack and mounting kit to allow us to use our previous Thule roof bars. We were also able to get matching keys.

Once set up, fitting the roof bars is a simple and quick thing to do. Under the plastic caps are some threaded mounting points into which some vertical rods are screwed. The mounting feet slot down over these and are then held down with a retaining nut. The spacing of the feet is set the first time you fit the bars and from then on, they are just dropped onto the rods.

The Buying Experience

Our car delivered to the dealer
The purchase experience was painless and very enjoyable. Our local dealer (Donalds, Ipswich) even sent me an MMS photo when our car arrived at the dealership, several weeks before we had arranged to collect it. The whole experience went smoothly and all of our queries and requests were answered and met. We never felt pressured at all.

We got to chose the license plate from a large selection. We were also given a good overview of the car and its features.

Initial Thoughts

We really like the car, despite neither of us being fans of diesel cars. If it wasn't for the Fisher Fury R1 to provide excitement on tap, it might prove just a little too boring but, it is a very relaxed driving experience and just a really nice place to be. I find myself driving it for a different kind of experience and fun, and I never thought that would happen.

The choice of 'Velocity Red' paintwork was a good one. We've had our fill of silver cars and wanted something slightly different. It looks fantastic in the sunlight and it is far from being 'old man' Rover red, whilst also not being too 'in your face' red.

Performance is pretty good and it doesn't sound like a diesel either. I like to think I've got a quiet V8 under the bonnet and the ample torque certainly supports this fantasy. This car is significantly quicker than our old 2.0l petrol car.

This new model must be a longer car than the outgoing one. Despite it being a hatchback and not an estate, there is a good 4-5" more legroom in the back for our ever growing children. There is plenty of legroom for even the tallest of adults too.

The 6-speed gearbox took a bit of getting used to initially. Finding reverse first time requires thought and concentration. I'm now used to though and don't struggle in this respect any more. The gear lever has a short throw and this adds to the experience. You need to be careful to not change up too early (>2500rpm) from 1st gear or the engine drops out of the torque band, when moving into 2nd gear.

iPhone / Bluetooth Audio

We really like the full iPhone integration via Bluetooth. The iPhone 4 supports the Advanced Audio distribution Profile (A2DP) V1.0 but it doesn't (as of iOS 4.3.5) support the latest version of Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP), i.e. V1.3. The Mazda audio system supports A2DP/AVRCP 1.0/1.3 but because the iPhone doesn't, this means that you can't get the currently playing track info displayed on the console display screen. Everything else seems to work fine though. This was fixed with the release of iOS 5.

Note: This was fixed in a later iOS update. We now have track name, artist, etc. displayed on the car display screen.

Ownership Diary

As any useful thoughts, events and information arise, we will add them here:

Fuel Consumption

So far we have been averaging around 38mpg. Most of our driving is short, town journeys with the odd long 500+ mile drive. On some of these longer drives across country we have seen over 44mpg, which is pretty good for a fully loaded car, travelling at a brisk pace. The car cruises effortlessly at speed thanks to the tall 6th gear and still has enough torque to accelerate past traffic. At 70mph in 6th, the engine running at about 2000rpm and is very quiet.

12th Sep 2011 - Servicing Plan

We received a second quote for a 3-year vehicle servicing plan. Bizarrely, this one was approximately £200 more than the first quote we received, shortly after buying the car. We are not convinced these represent particularly good value for money though and would rather pay as and when required, rather than commit to a 3-year direct debit.

17th Sep 2011 - MyMazda

After a few weeks of ownership, we received some paper work for the MyMazda service. This allows you to access the 'digital service record' of your car.

8th Oct 2011 - MyMazda

Cleaned the car by hand for the first time. The 'Velocity Red' paint colour is a good one for hiding dirt. Discovered that this is also quite easy to clean with a sponge, with no finger traps and sharp edges. Managed to break my little finger whilst cleaning my wife's car last month, catching it in a door handle.

13th Oct 2011 - iOS 5

Seems to be odd talking about iOS 5 here but, it has fully functional BlueTooth support and better iPhone integration. We now have track info on the car display :-)

20th Nov 2011 - Fog

Got to drive the car down some proper country lanes at night for the first time. The lights are pretty good but I'd like to be able to replace the fog lights with some proper driving lights, that really light up the road a long way. On the way back home if was very fogy and I noticed a curious thing. The full beam headlights throw up a curious pattern vertically into the fog and fingers of light extend up from them. It's a bit disconcerting at first but you get used to it.

4th Dec 2011 - Roof Bars

Bought some Thule roof-rack/roof-bar mounts and fitted the roof bars to the car.

10th Dec 2011 - Winter Tyres

Finally got cold enough to warrant fitting the winter tyres/wheels (at 1,000 miles). Interestingly, the tyre pressure warning light does not light up on the dash with my new wheels and tyres fitted. Mazda must have made the system smarter, so that it does nothing when the pressure sensors are absent. The difference in grip is just amazing. The extra grip was also very evident in the wet and muddy country lanes of Somerset over Christmas 2011.

Feb 2012

The winter tyres proved themselves essential this month. Had to ferry four of us with skiing kit and snow-boards to Stansted for our ski trip to Austria. Lots of snow on the ground and -9ºC on route. Not sure we would have got to the airport without them.

Also drove across country in terrible weather this month. The car was brilliant and after a four hour non-stop drive, I got out feeling like I had only done a short 30-minute trip. It is a very comfortable car to drive on long journeys and the diesel engine, tall 6th gear and cruise control make them quite effortless. I've also noticed that this car is more stable than our previous estate car and much less susceptible to cross winds.

25th Feb 2012

Summer wheels
Unpacked my summer wheels and tyres, to put them back on the car. The winter tyres did just 1200 miles but proved incredibly useful.

Jul 2012

Drove down to the Goodwood Festival of Speed a 315-mile round trip. Really easy and comfortable in the car.

Mazda 6 mounting
We have built a custom mount for our Google Nexus 7 to fit in the car. Under the radio unit (it overhangs) we have stuck a 180mm strip of 25mm wide 3M Velcro hooks. We did this because we didn't want to do any damage to the car. This stuff has amazing sticking power and we have put it here because it is essentially out of sight. Unless you were looking for it, you would not know it is there. This is also about the only place we could fit it in this car. The mount is in front of the heating controls but can be tilted up to get access to them. We then cut a strip 180mm × 25mm and a sheet 180mm × 100mm from some carbon fibre effect 2mm plastic sheet. We used some 50mm Velcro (eyes) to join them together at 90º and to act as a swing hinge. The 25mm strip fits to the Velcro under the audio unit and this provides a plate on which to Velcro the tablet in its cheap silicon skin. We are using the Nexus 7 as a 7" satellite navigation system, amongst other things.

August 2012

Picked up a few stone chips on the rear passenger door whilst away on holiday. Chips Away did a fantastic job and they are now invisible.

4th September 2012

Can't believe a year of ownership is up already. The car had its first service (at 5700 miles) by Donalds Mazda, which cost £264. Whilst they had the car, they also did some recall work on the timing chain.

7th November 2012

Fitted the winter tyres at 7,200 miles.

March 2013

Witter tow bar
We had a Witter tow bar fitted to our last Mazda by Suffolk Towbars. It wasn't used often but was required to get our Fisher Fury R1 to and from track days. We also fitted a 4-bike Maxxraxx. This month we had one fitted to this car too at a cost of £280.

14th April 2013

With the weather warming up nicely, I put the summer wheels and tyres back on (10,200 miles). The winter tyres and wheels have been on the car for over 5 months (and 3000 miles).

10th November 2013

Put the winter wheels and tyres on (17,600 miles). Cleaned up the summer wheels and put them away for the winter. They still look like new having done 7400 miles.

Mini 0801 Dashcam
Installed a Mini 0801 dashcam into the car with the wiring and power feeds completely hidden out of sight (our review).

1st March 2014

Put the summer wheels and tyres back on (19,763 miles) as the temperatures have started to rise. 3½ months and 1900 miles done on winter tyres. It has been a very mild winter with only a few days where the temperature has dropped below zero. The winter tyres have proved much better in the cold, wet and mud though.

Having used the winter tyres over three winters now, they have done 6100 miles (346 days) and still have loads of tread left. By comparison, the summer wheels have done about 13,400 miles (563 days). So basically winter tyres account for 38% of the time I've owned the car (from new) and 31% of all the miles driven in it.

24th July 2014

Although the summer tyres were clearly still above the legal tread depth, the recent heavy rains were showing just how much effect tread depth has on the safety in heavy rain. I decided to put four new tyres on at 24,870 miles. This means the original fitment tyres have lasted 18,507 miles. This is the highest figure ever achieved by me in any of my cars :-)

I paid £556 to have four Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymetric 2 tyres fitted. I chose these tyres because they seem to be very highly rated by all of the UK car magazines. Initial impressions are very good. The ride is much improved and really quite good for low (225/45R18) profile tyres. They are also a fair bit quieter. Feedback is good and grip levels feel very high.

22nd November 2014

Put the winter tyres back on (at 28694 miles) as it has now started getting colder and we are forecast more wintery weather ahead. Checked the tread on the winter tyres and because I've been swapping them around (front to rear, not side to side as they are directional), they are have even wear with 6.5mm on each one.

The tread depth on the summer tyres is 7.5mm on the rears and 6.5mm on the fronts. Annoyingly, the tyre fitter swapped a few wheels around when fitting the new summer tyres so the wheel marked 'RR' is now the front right, front left is was, 'RL' is now the rear right and 'FR' is now the rear left! I will remark them when they go back on the car.

22nd March 2015

Put the summer tyres back on at 31948 miles. Checked the tread depth on each tyre and it is 5.5mm all round.

May 2015

Bought a phone holder from CD Slot Mount as this looks it will be perfect for my Mazda 6. I've always struggled with a good mounting location that doesn't cover up essential controls.

iPhone mounted
It works really well and is very well placed, keeping all the other displays visible and controls accessible. On very tight corners it can move slightly but this rarely happens.

July 2015

Had my local Chips Away take out a big dent in the door that some careless person created in a supermarket carpark. It cost me £90 but is totally invisible. I don't know how they did it. Also had a lot of small stone chips touched up.

August 2015

Passed MOT without any issues again. Got a cleaned and polished car back too :-)

November 2016

Having not needed to fit them last year, the winter wheels and tyres were fitted again this month at 49,800 miles. The summer tyres are just about due to be replaced.

August 2017

Replaced the front tyres only with some Michelin Pilot Sport 4's. Thesse seem to be the best reviewed tyres and certainly seem to have a lot of grip.

December 2017

Fitted the winter wheels and tyres again at 57,770 miles. Even though the summer tyres are very new and the winter tyres nearing the end of their useful life, the extra grip provided by winter tyres in the damp and cold is an amazing improvement. My winter alloy wheels are in a pretty sad state now. Once this winter is over they are going to need a complete strip down and respray or replacement.

I've got four options to resolve my winter wheel issue:

  • Refurbish my current winter alloys - this can work our quite expensive.
  • Buy some more second-hand winter alloys - this has the risk of buying wheels in poor condition.
  • Buy new winter alloys - this can work out cheaper than refurbishing existing alloys.
  • Buy new steel wheels - looking like a cheap option.
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