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Do you like station wagons?

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Text and photos by Eric Tipan

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I, like most, used to wonder why people bothered getting station wagons. They’re boxy and without appeal, although they do come with very usable real estate without the heft of a truck, but that doesn’t really make for a good enough reason to have it in one’s garage.

With auto design swinging around far enough to influence even this body-style, things were starting to literally look good for the ‘estate’ — as the Europeans call it.

I took the 2017 Mazda6 Wagon out for a weekend to see how it can get a bigger slice of the pie in the ever-growing Philippine automotive market.

UNBOXED

Save for the AMG E63 S of the same body-style, the Mazda’s is probably the best-looking one out there and you should all thank the designers in Hiroshima for hooking it up with the Kodo (Soul of Motion) design philosophy.

Those bold ‘shoulders’ just above the wheel arches that Mazda says mimics the cheetah’s stance add so much appeal and presence to the exterior, and somehow guides your gaze to the familiar wide Mazda grille flanked by adaptive LED headlights with daytime running lamps.

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Taller by 30mm than the sedan, the wagon manages a sleek and aerodynamic profile by cutting down the height nearer to the rear before dropping in a 45-degree angle to form the tailgate.

Its status as a ‘hauler’ may generate an impression that it’s bigger, but the wagon surprisingly comes in shorter in length and wheelbase by 60mm and 80mm respectively compared to the sedan.

The façade isn’t flashy by any measure, perhaps subdued by the overall wagon design, but it’s the sum of its parts that complete a more attractive exterior.

PLUSH INTERIOR

If it isn’t soft-touch materials on the dashboard, there’s high-quality leather in the cabin starting from the steering wheel, front and rear seats including panels on the center console and doors.

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There’s certainly a premium feel to everything due to Mazda’s attention to detail right down to the logo-inspired buttons on the steering wheel.

Despite having a shorter wheelbase, it still offered executive-level spaciousness and amenities, which included manual rear window shades and rear aircon vents.

As a driver, I love the heads-up display that pops up on top of the instrumentation panel showing speed and cruise control status.

Two of my other favorite features include the rotary clicker on the center console that allows me to manage settings for the vehicle, communication, entertainment, navigation and installed applications, plus its Bose speaker system with a Bose Digital Signal Processing amplifier, a mic to monitor interior noise level and a total of 17 speakers ranging from mid to high range speakers, woofers and tweeters to make sure the sound is just perfect.

SILKY, SMOOTH POWERTRAIN

Complementing its flowing design is the suave performance of its fuel-injected 2.5L SkyActiv-G engine with 187 PS and 250 Nm of torque mated to an extremely polished six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission.

The engine and transmission combo is silky-smooth from zero to a hundred and is never unstable or jerky.

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It may look cumbersome but it moves gracefully and conquers corners with substantial mechanical grip because of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control.

Surprising though, that for an engine with only a little more than 3,000 kilometers, it clatters like a diesel — imperceptible inside but audible from the outside.

Fortunately, that doesn’t affect its performance in any way whatsoever. I cruised along on Normal mode and still stayed easily right at the speed limit on SLEX with still so much power to spare.

Sport mode increase the revs to make the Wagon respond just a split second faster but that’s like the equivalent of hiring Bono just to sing you a Happy Birthday song at a small family party. Overkill, really.

Fuel efficiency is increased by Mazda’s i-Stop idling stop system and i-ELOOP regenerative braking system.

IS A WAGON FOR YOU?

That’s a question only you can answer but the 6 Wagon makes for a compelling choice. It’s made in Japan, which makes it top-notch, and moves like a cheetah despite weighing as much as a Gray whale. The body-style maybe ancient but the 19-inch aluminum wheels with high-luster coating makes it look like its wearing the latest NMDs.

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It also comes with electric parking brake, crystal clear rear camera display, and even with that engine size and output, still manages a combined 9.4 kilometers per liter in combined highway and city driving.

Priced at Php 1.845 million, it does graze SUV/Crossover territory so I’ll understand if you’re torn between the two.

It all boils down really to whether or not you like estates but with the 2017 Mazda6 Wagon, what’s not to like?

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