The RWD Mazda 6 is dead in the water, and SUVs are to blame.
Mazda is reinventing the brand, moving upmarket with a new rear-wheel-drive platform, a brand new engine architecture with hybridization and inline-sixes, and more luxury than ever before. What's more, evidence is mounting almost daily that the rotary sports car dream will finally become a reality. But one of the products we've been most excited about was the prospect of a new Mazda 6 Sedan that would have rear-wheel drive and come powered by an inline-six. For all intents and purposes, this would be the perfect Japanese rival to the BMW 3 Series, and with the old FWD model dead in the US, the timing seemed perfect. It's a model that was long thought to be in development, but a Mazda executive has poured cold water on the idea, ruling out both a RWD 6 sedan and a two-door coupe version of the same.
The news comes via the latest print edition of Britain's Autocar in which Joachim Kunz, Mazda Europe's engineering and development boss, spoke rather frankly on the matter. "It would be very nice… to have the FR [front-engine, rear-driven] concept and six-cylinder engine for a Mazda 6 successor or a large sports coupe," he told the magazine. "We would like to have it, but at this point in time, it's most important to sell SUVs." He expands on the latter statement: "This SUV trend is continuing, and even more for Mazda. It's what's selling best."
This confirmation is a stark reality check that the family sedan is dying as SUVs continue to dominate the market.
The Large Architecture (Mazda's new FR architecture) will underpin a slew of SUVs, starting with the recently-revealed CX-60 before being utilized in the CX-70, CX-80, and CX-90. The USA will receive two of these in the form of the two-row CX-70 and three-row CX-90, both of which are being developed with the US market in mind with wider bodies than their European counterparts. These models will likely arrive with the same 322-horsepower powertrain seen in the CX-60, comprising a 2.5-liter inline-four and an electric motor. However, the future inline-six will make it into at least the CX-90, so expect more power. An eight-speed automatic gearbox will feature, but don't expect RWD. These SUVs will be AWD only.