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I had really been looking forward to driving the new Mazda 6 as the marque has some of the best models out at the moment, although it is at the wrong end of the overall sales chart.

All its cars have a very distinctive style and drive wonderfully. They are also very well built.

However, there is often one flaw with them which mitigates the marque from becoming a real success. With the Mazda CX3 it was the load area on the small SUV, which was way below what it should have been. And it seems that even with the big, sleek Mazda 6 saloon it is the rear end that causes problems.

It’s a fine big boot once you navigate a very tight opening, as we found out when we were trying to take home a plant pot we had travelled up to Avoca’s fine Dunboyne shop for last Sunday.

There is not much point having such a fine space, which also increases massively when the rear seats fold, if you can’t easily access it.

It was a pity as the car was extremely comfortable, even in the back, and was a delight to drive, giving a real sense of confidence. It also looked great and had people coming up to say how much they loved the Soul Red Crystal colour.

There’s a definite premium feel about everything, especially when you move up the grades: lots of leather, plenty of nice finishes yet, unfortunately, the 8in touch-screen is very much last generation.

The 143bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine has been slightly refined in this latest refresh of the Mazda 6 and is mated to a very compliant six-speed manual box that suited the very slick driving style, which reminded me why a good car and a fast-changing gearbox is such fun. It didn’t even have me hankering for an automatic – more my default choice these days.

Consumption is good, even on fast drives, but you are spending €390 on car tax.

Prices start at €31,945 which, as you might remember from last week, is high Focus territory, and the test model in ‘platinum’ grade was €38,595.

Despite some reservations, this subtly updated Mazda 6 is a real winner and will stand out amid the dross. If you want a traditional saloon or tourer that is a real joy to drive you should check it out.

It’s class and just seeing that paint and style will keep you happy.

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