Mazda says rear-drive Mazda6 replacement won’t happen


When Mazda announced it would be dropping the Mazda6 midsize sedan for the US market, some were discouraged. With the industry having spent the better part of a decade moving away from body styling to support models they might associate with higher price points, there has been a shortage of good sedans lately. But a seed of hope remained intact when the company announced that it would withdraw the Mazda 6 from our market.

You see, the company had long been teasing a rear-drive variant using a powerful straight-six engine. Mazda was also moving upmarket, indicating the possibility of the model returning to compete with mid-size German products with a higher price tag. But it looks like the concept is being trashed with Mazda’s suggestion to bring back RX performance vehicles and create rotary range extenders for electric vehicles.

Joachim Kunz, Head of Engineering and Development for Mazda Europe, basically said Coach (shared via CarBuzz) that the profit margin of crossovers is too juicy for the company to pursue something that would actually be fun for people to drive.

“It would be very nice… to have the [front-engine, rear-driven] concept and six-cylinder engine for a Mazda6 successor or a large sports coupe. We would like to have it, but at this point the most important thing is to sell SUVs. Kunz said. “This SUV trend continues, and even more so for Mazda. This is what sells best. »

Mazda has made and broken many big promises over the past few years. While not unique for an automaker, Mazda was previously obsessed with delivering engaging driving dynamics at prices that wouldn’t break the bank. It has since opted to move upmarket but has gradually moved away from the old Zoom-Zoom formula that underpinned its previous advertising campaigns. It still produces fun-to-drive automobiles, including the MX-5 and Mazda3 Turbo, but its current focus has shifted to delivering sleekly styled vehicles with premium interiors.

This represents a victory in some respects. The fact that Mazda can offer slightly underpowered crossovers that aren’t totally boring to drive is indeed commendable. But something special is missing since it dropped the RX-8 and future MazdaSpeed ​​variants. One might even suggest that it needs these vehicles if it is serious about becoming a competitor to brands like BMW.

We’ve had reports from Japan for years that claimed an all-new Mazda6 was coming. The vehicle was rumored to be based on the 2017 Vision Coupe concept and was to use rear-wheel-drive architecture. It was later suggested that the model could be a luxury successor to the midsize sedan, offering optional all-wheel drive and a higher-output mild-hybrid engine. Mazda has even hinted that such a car is in development on more than one occasion, to continue introducing new crossover models while promoting electrification.

But that seems to be the final nail in the coffin. Along with Kunz being quite candid about the importance of SUV sales, Mazda Australia’s marketing director was already trying to soften the blow. Last month, Alastair Doak said To drive that the prospect of a rear-drive Mazda6 was interesting with “heaps of speculation surrounding it”. But ultimately, his chances were slim due to the popularity of crossover vehicles.

“I guess if you look around the world… [the] The traditional car/sedan market has been shrinking for many years, not just in Australia, so I guess our priority globally will be the [rear-wheel-drive] Great architecture and [Mazda’s SUVs]”Doak said.

[Image: Mazda]

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