By on May 31, 2017

2017 Mazda 6, Image: Mazda

Mazda’s U.S. lineup has already suffered enough cutbacks, according to North American boss Masahiro Moro.

“I don’t have any intention to cut any nameplate right now,” Moro told Automotive News following a meeting of the National Dealer Advisory Council earlier in May.

This means the Mazda 6, often thought to be prime Death Watch material based on its low-volume status in the shrinking midsize sedan category, remains as firmly installed in the Mazda showroom as ever.

But where’s the Mazda 6’s replacement? Not on the immediate horizon.

There are key words to pluck out of Moro’s statement to Automotive News’ Michael Wayland.

Intention.

Right now.

You could, if you were as skeptical as TTAC is wont to be, produce a simple translation.

I don’t intend, at the moment, to cut any nameplate. Not at this moment, anyhow.

There’s reason to believe the Mazda 6 isn’t the kind of vehicle a brand might keep around. Only 2 percent of the midsize cars sold in the United States in the first four months of 2017 were Mazda 6s. The 6’s market share hasn’t decreased this year — it’s actually up marginally — because it’s 9-percent rate of year-over-year decline isn’t as drastic as the drop experienced by the overall sector.

U.S. midsize car volume is down by a fifth so far this year.

2011 Mazda 6, Image: Mazda

Numerous low-volume models have already been cut over the last few years, from the Mitsubishi Galant and Suzuki Kizashi to the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200. Even when the sales output isn’t obviously small, the task of making money — of successfully selling midsize cars at a price that actually earns a profit — in a segment controlled by a handful of high-volume dominators is particularly challenging. In the case of the Mazda 6, sales have fallen 43 percent since peaking in 2004, just the second full year of the 6’s 626-replacing tenure.

Not surprisingly, when TTAC asked Mazda for timing on the fourth-generation 6’s arrival, the company wasn’t willing to unlock its product planning lair. But the 6, Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown says, “is one of our global core models.”

Mazda also points to continuous improvements throughout a generation’s lifecycle — the 6’s new interior in 2016, for example, and the installation of G-Vectoring Control for MY2017 — as distinct from mid-cycle refreshes.

2006 Mazda 6, Image: Mazda

With new Camrys and Accords and Altimas due to arrive long before the presently four-year-old Mazda 6 is replaced, Mazda considers these steady improvements to be essential for what will quickly become one of the older designs in the segment.

“Driving the 2014 model back to back with the current one would highlight many improvements, both visible and invisible,” Jacob Brown tells TTAC. The 6 might not be the newest design, Mazda believes, but that doesn’t mean it will feel like the oldest car.

Meanwhile, according to Masahiro Moro, “Our portfolio is clearly in good shape.” Mazda has recently killed off the Mazda 2 subcompact and Mazda 5 minivan in North America. The China-oriented CX-4 and Japan-oriented CX-8 won’t arrive in North America to bolster the brand’s crossover lineup.

And the Mazda 6, like the two more popular Mazdas that produce two-thirds of the brand’s sales, will soldier on.

At least that’s the intention. Right now.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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45 Comments on “Mazda Has No Death Watch For The Mazda 6...”


  • avatar
    earthwateruser

    Isn’t FCA looking for a partner for a mid-sized sedan to replace the aborted 200? The Mazda 6 seems a good candidate and development costs for an update could be shared. Maybe FCA plans have changed since the segment has continued to decline.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Mazda6 Hatch = dead in North America

    Mazda6 Wagon = dead in North America.

    Mazda6 diesel = dead before it even was born in North America.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I know the midsize segment is shrinking as a whole as Accords are replaced with CR-Vs and Pilots, but I’m still surprised at the extent that the Mazda6 has fallen in terms of sales and just being on the public’s radar.

    The Camry, Accord, and Altima were already fierce competition when the first Mazda6 made its debut, so that’s not it. Is it a combination of maybe the Fusion and H/K cars that are killing the 6?

    The current Fusion is massive improvement over the original from ’06, and the Sonata and Optima went from bland nothing burgers to serious segment competitors in 2011. I wonder if Mazda just can’t take the additional heat. It’s also worth noting that if you want a go fast family car, Ford will happily sell you one, and Mazda won’t. The Mazdaspeed6 is long gone, and there’s no longer even the V6 from the second gen car.

    I also wonder if things might’ve been different if the current 6 had launched with the current interior instead of the somewhat half baked interior that it had before. It would be a shame to see it go, it’s still the best looking car in the segment by a mile.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Perhaps more likely is the fact that *most* buyers in this segment aren’t necessarily looking for anything that resembles “zoom/zoom.” And for that, they gravitate to safe, reliable and predictable nameplates such as the Accord and Camry. Mazda has stood by their approach of advertising their cars as leaning towards the sporty side of the line, and that isn’t what (again, I caveat this statement with *most*) consumers are looking for in a mid-sizer, if they are looking for a mid-sizer at all.

      Personally, I rented a Mazda6 a few months back and loved the thing, even if it was an automatic. It would have been a hoot with a manual. But then again, I’m not really in the market (adopted daughter, dog shows and all that) for such a vehicle, but I’d sure hate to see it disappear from the lineup.

      • 0 avatar
        Davekaybsc

        Right, but were they necessarily looking for “zoom/zoom” 10 years ago, and aren’t now? I don’t think the general demographic for this segment has really changed that much. The Camry and Accord still dominated the segment then as they do now, but I remember seeing first gen Mazda6s all over the place, even when it was somewhat undersized for the segment, people bought loads of them.

        I think a very important factor is at that time, *nobody* bought a Hyundai or Kia because they *liked* those cars, they bought them because they were cheaper than everything else. The 2011 designs changed all of that, I personally didn’t love the design of the ’11 Sonata, but clearly a lot of people did as they were all over the place. The ’11 Optima was a genuinely good looking car.

        So people that for whatever reason opted not to buy any of the big Japanese trio and bought a Mazda6 when the first generation car was around may have gravitated towards H/K rather than buying a 6.

        Here’s the real question, how many first gen Mazda6 owners stuck around for gen 2 or 3. If they didn’t, why did they leave?

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          I had a thing for an MS6, was very close to buying one. I liked the gen1 sedan, I liked the wagon and the hatch as well. I thought the design was modern and appealing. The interior of the GTs was pleasant and clean looking.
          I drove a 2nd gen Mazda 6 and it was miserable in just about every way. The interior was horribly low rent, the rental I had was a 4 cyl which did not help. I think what kept people away from the 3rd gen was the 2nd gen which felt phoned in. The only bright spot for Gen2 was the Duratec 35 which was a solid application. However, given the bloated styling of Gen2 combined with the nearly nonexistent advertising campaign, I don’t think that gen2 had much of a chance, even if higher trims were any good.
          If the 3rd gen car was supposed to appeal to enthusiasts, it seems like they shouldn’t have limited the availability of a manual transmission to the lower trim levels. Also, being dogmatic about engines and only offering a NA 4-cyl across all lines didn’t help. I understand that since the divorce from Ford that they no longer had the ability to use Ford engines, but it seems like they’ve had a number of years to prepare and many since to fill the gap. I mean, they did use the Duratec 35 in the CX9 for many years, why not have done something similar with the 6? Borrow an ecoboost motor from a Focus ST and the Mazda6 could have been a lot of fun. Even use the new turbo 4 from the CX9 in ANYTHING else and let people vote with their wallets. As it stands now, there’s no compelling reason to buy a sedan that at it’s highest trim is a 4-cyl automatic that gets laughed at by minivans as they show you their tail lights. You may as well buy an Accord, get 90% of the handling, in the same package. Or you could buy the sedan with a potent V6 or even the coupe with the same V6 and a manual.
          I’ve owned and enjoyed many Mazdas over the years; when I was car shopping earlier this year I test drove a manual V6 Accord coupe but I didn’t even bother to drive the Mazda. Shameful, but I just don’t see any reason for the Mazda6 to exist these days.

          • 0 avatar
            Davekaybsc

            Yeah I think the extremely mediocre second gen car had a lot to do with it. I don’t know what the actual sales numbers were for the gen 2 car vs. the current car, but anecdotally at least I barely saw ANY on the roads, whereas the prior gen Sonata and Optimas were nearly as thick on the ground as Camrys and Accords, at least in my neck of the woods.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        That’s it exactly, Muricans really don’t give a rat’s ass about sporty handling, never did. Mazda has always prided it self on building cars that handle like German products but at Asian prices. They seem not to understand that Muricans buy those German products for status and little else. A Mazda may handle like a BMW, but where’s the status?

        • 0 avatar
          whitworth

          Or it could be that sedans in general are selling poorly?

          Nah, let’s go with the Ugly American excuse.

          • 0 avatar
            skor

            Mazda was never more than a minor player in the US. Their products did not fall into the two automotive categories that appeal to Muricans: Appliance. Status symbol.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            Honda offers an almost-luxury product (in top trims), Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Hyundai/Kia and GM are heavily discounting, Mazda is doing neither.

          • 0 avatar
            Chocolatedeath

            WHat does Honda make shats almost Lux other than Acuras? THe Accord interior is not better than the Mazda 6 at this moment.

    • 0 avatar

      I am one of those who chose Fusion over Mazda6. I considered also Regal, but it was too tight for family sedan. Fusion was much faster and more refined and interior was more stylish. I did not consider H and esp K because of lack of refinement, they just felt cheap and I did not have much confidence in these brands. If there was no Fusion I would consider Mazda seriously, but most likely in the end would buy luxury brand since still appreciate refinement and need car with more than 200 hp. I actually wanted to buy luxury car but Fusion was a great value since had most of the attributes of German premium car for much less.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        @Chocolate- A top trim Accord with all the features and the 278hp V6 is a near luxury car. The rear seat room is some of the most generous in class and more so than many actual luxury cars.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    This generation of the Mazda 6 is the first one I really was serious at buying any Mazda product. Still might, but I lean towards a more “luxury” ride than sporty, but I love the price point, exterior styling, upscale interior, performance etc.

    The ride noise is also something that concerns me as I had to one time get rid of a car “early” it was so bad.

    I still don’t understand why Mazda doesn’t offer the 6 with a turbocharged 4. Seems a no brainer.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    What Mazda could do with some Dynamat, foam insulation, and a V6 could be unbelievable. I might even buy one if that happened.

    • 0 avatar
      Davekaybsc

      Agreed. They no longer are actively connected to Ford in any way, but something like the Ford 2.7T seems like an obvious choice if Mazda wants to farm out their V6 to someone else, which I believe is what they’ve done since they killed off the old Miller cycle engine in the Millenia.

      • 0 avatar
        sydtron

        No way on the 2.7TT – it weighs as much as a V8. Fine if you want a 4100 lbs Fusion, but you give up a lot of tactility (why Mazdas are good) when you add weight like that.

    • 0 avatar
      Oberkanone

      Not a good idea. Very bad. North America only V6 required a North America only front suspension that was inferior to the front suspension used everywhere else. Your V6 dream is my nightmare.

      • 0 avatar
        zip89123

        The V6 can be used in more Mazda vehicles than the Mazda6. Don’t be so shortsighted. A stronger suspension can be zoom zoom if Mazda wanted it to be. The last time I was in a Mazda6 at 55mph I kept looking for an open window. I’ve been in quieter convertibles!

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      I’ll never understand why automakers with all the technology they employ in modern cars will forego just basic sound deadening.

      Just some really basic foam in strategic places would make a world of difference, costs next to nothing and adds very little weight.

      That “tin can” feeling in certain cars is a deal breaker for me.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    If Buick has the courage to sell a hatchback (Regal), then Mazda should too! #Bringbackthe6hatch

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    I’m looking to sell my 2015 Mazda6. Discontinue it so I can have a collector’s item!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I find the 6 to be short on headroom, yet too long in the body – sort of like a Fisker Karma.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Hopefully this will stop Mr Cain endlessly going about the 6 and his US centric view. The 6 is a global vehicle (like all Mazda’s sold in the US. The 6 sells in Europe and elsewhere and shares a platform with the CX5 so it is not going anywhere.
    I also don`t understand the comment about only 35% of their sales come from fresh vehicles. I thought the MX5, CX5 and CX9 accounted for more that. Additionally the CX3 and Mazda 3 are not especially old.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Mazda could follow in a Subaru fashion, but the management is holding it back with no alternative engines on models and no new models for the U.S. marketplace. So would I buy another Mazda? Absolutely not!

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I’m not really convinced that there is a business case for Mazda to continue to market the 6 in the United States. True, this is a vehicle sold world-wide but the units sold in the US are most likely odd-balls in that they must meet unique and somewhat stringent standards differing from standards elsewhere. As pointed out in the above comments it shares its platform with other better-selling Mazda vehicles but also requires several unique components for its sedan form. I agree that it is a very attractive vehicle, possibly the best looking mid-sizer on the market in the US. But it’s prospects for increased volume are pretty small for all the reasons listed by other commenters above. From the GoodCarBadCar figures (thanks, Tim) we see that in 2016 the Mazda 6 sales volume was 15% of the total brand volume in the US. Total Mazda sales volume in the US compared to world-wide sales (about 1.3 million in 2016) is a tick less than 25%. Crunching the numbers a bit we see that that 15% US volume in Mazda 6’s is less than 4% of Mazda’s total world-wide sales. Unless that small volume returns a pretty good profit to Mazda I cannot see the 6 continuing in the US unless there are some really impressive changes (much more than just offering a diesel) coming for it.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      15% is a reasonable % of their sales in the US. It is just like the Odyssey is for Honda (or would you suggest cutting that off?).
      Extrapolating it to global sales is silly – yes it is 4%, but then you need to add European, Canadian, Japanese etc sales of the 6 to get >10% of global Mazda sales. Not insignificant.

      It would seem likely they will bring a new model over in a couple of years, with the 2.5T and a signature level and move it, like the rest of the range.

  • avatar
    hpycamper

    Former Mazda6 owner here. Would consider buying another if it was available as a convertible, and maybe a bit smaller. Since Mazda is a small company, why not build cars the big companies won’t, such as converibles, coupes, wagons, etc. that some of us want instead of going head to head with Toyota and Honda?

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      Your methodology is perfect for an automaker! They should definitely execute it! Let’s make everything that the general public doesn’t want to pay for.

      • 0 avatar
        hpycamper

        Forget what the general public will buy, and build what the rest of us want. While most buyers seem to want a white/silver/gray SUV or pickup, there are others of us frustrated at the limited options available.
        If Mazda is destined to be a low volume automaker, why not make the best of it?

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      Buy an MX-5 RF.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I love my Mazda6. I refuse to drive a slow, ugly crossover and will never understand people’s fascination with such vehicles, and it will be a dark day in hell before I am found behind the wheel of a Honda, Toyota, or Nissan.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Um, until the infrastructure improves, crossovers are here to stay. The state of roads , at least here in the Midwest, are horrible , and snow plow budgets for most city populations similarly are mediocre.
    It seems every few winters there’s a death related to ambulances not being able to get to someone having a heart attack shoveling snow in KC ,MO.I have friends who days without seeing a snow plow.
    Unless winter tires are mandated by municipalities like other countries, crossovers aren’t such a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      modemjunki

      I fail to see the logic in this. Many “crossovers” are sold as FWD.

      If there is no AWD or 4X4 in the crossover then no advantage over a FWD sedan and maybe even a disadvantage in handling.

      I think the crossover phenomena is more about the perception of the vehicle than any real utility.

      Disclosure: I daily drive a 2013 Escape Titanum AWD 2.0

    • 0 avatar
      chiefmonkey

      As you ironically seem to imply, it’s the tires that make the difference, not whether a car is AWD or FWD.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I drove the Mazda 6 late last year and really liked it. Unfortunately for Mazda I have a model 3 reserved.

    I doubt I’m the only one holding off on a car purchase while waiting for Tesla to get going on the Model 3

  • avatar
    CV Neuves

    In my very personal opinion one of the very best looking cars on the market – even more so in the above color. Regretfully, almost everybody says, the rest of it does not quite live up to what one would hope for. Sad.

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