Even if you’re not an avid car-spotter, it should be quite clear that station wagons (or estates as they’re sometimes known) are not exactly popular automotive bodystyles here.
Whether it’s because buyers here have relatively few to choose from (thanks to local dealers not bringing them in, even if carmakers have station wagons in their lineup), or because estates are passed over in favour of their saloon counterparts, is open to debate.
What isn’t open to debate, however, is how a station wagon is immensely practical, and in modern times, can even look quite good. For the most part, a station wagon today doesn’t resemble a brick on wheels (think the Volvo 240) and hearses.
A case in point: the Mazda 6 Wagon. None of the saloon’s lithe lines have been lost in translation. To me, the 6 looks even better as a station wagon.
More importantly for the keener driver, the 6 saloon’s lithe chassis is very much alive here, and one is aware of the Wagon’s relatively generous length – all 4800mm of it – only while parking or driving in cramped multi-storey carparks.Once shown a stretch of open road (or twisty tarmac), the 6 Wagon behaves just as well as the saloon, which is not that surprising when you consider that it’s just 26kg heavier.
The car’s steering is meaty, its nose tucks in cleanly and, generally, you can treat it quite roughly. In fact, I get the feeling this Mazda quite likes to be taken by the scruff of the neck and flicked around, “shrinking” around the driver when it’s pushed hard.
And it gets better. The 6 Wagon has gained much over the saloon in terms of its load-hauling ability. With the rear seats up, its luggage capacity of 451 litres may be just 13 litres more than the notchback, but with the rear seats down, the Wagon can swallow up to 1593 litres of cargo, which makes the boot roomy enough to fit not only the kitchen sink, but other parts of the kitchen as well.
But the best thing about the 6 Wagon is that it’s priced the same as the saloon, at $157,988 with COE, making it terrific value for money. The standard satellite navigation, reverse camera and Bose sound system further sweeten the deal.
However, there is a fly in the 6 Wagon’s ointment, and unfortunately it’s quite a big one. In an age when punchy turbocharged engines dominate the automotive landscape, the 6 Wagon’s naturally aspirated 2.5-litre engine with 187bhp and 250Nm can seem rather reedy.
To add insult to injury, the noise it makes is not particularly stirring, unless you like cars that sound like strained lawnmowers.
Is that a deal breaker? Well, not to me. The Mazda 6 Wagon is blessed with good looks, is rather handy around corners and is equally handy in the practicality stakes.
It might just provide the appeal of station wagons a much-needed shot in the arm.
ENGINE 2488cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 187bhp at 5700rpm
MAX TORQUE 250Nm at 3250rpm
GEARBOX 6-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 8.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 218km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.2km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 155g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
$157,988 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)