Next-generation Mazda 6: The Best a Mazda (Sedan) Can Get?
The current-generation Mazda 6 debuted with a shapely body that withstood the passage of time and handling attributes that elevated it above other front-drive, midsize rivals. Alas, the car dropped as the market was moving away traditional midsize sedans. Not helping its case, Mazda was slow to respond with improvements — like a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, for example, or all-wheel drive that still hasn’t appeared.
Word is that the next Mazda 6 will correct all criticism of the current car, donning a new layout and propulsion. By the sounds of it, the next-gen 6 will be everything an enthusiast wants, but will there be anyone left to buy it?
Drawing from insider knowledge and other portals, Car and Driver reports that the next Mazda 6 will appear in late 2022, bringing with it rear-drive architecture, an inline-six engine (mated to a 48-volt mild hybrid system), and, likely, a very slinky body.
The rear-drive-leaning proportions bestowed on Mazda’s current crop of sedans is much appreciated in a world filled with stumpy-hooded blandmobiles, but to go all the way would be a stark departure. It would also signal that Mazda, already ushering its products towards the upscale, is ready to challenge a new crop of rivals. A RWD/straight-six layout would place the 6 in the same field as, say, Genesis’ G70 and G80, or perhaps make it an alternative to Lexus’ rear-drive IS and front-drive ES.
Exterior style and interior construction, as seen on the brand’s latest models, can compare to loftier competitors. That leaves power and prestige. The former ingredient won’t be in short supply, as Car and Driver posits that the new engine — developed with help from partner Toyota — could make up to 350 horsepower. The latter ingredient is tougher, as Mazda has not traditionally been seen as an upscale brand. Badges and price point can have uneasy relationships, and the fairly shocking consumer reaction to the newly upmarket (but otherwise well-thought-out) Mazda 3 is proof of that.
If Mazda endows the next 6 with a body reminiscent of the Vision Coupe concept, the model won’t want for eye-catching style. Perhaps a sultry body can overcome a premium buyer’s resistance to mainly mainstream brand.
That said, the brand’s future volume will continue to rely heavily on utility vehicles, more so than ever before. Mazda 6 sales fell 30.4 percent in 2019, and the just-released CX-30 and upcoming, unnamed crossover slated for a joint Mazda-Toyota assembly plant in Alabama will play major roles in keeping the brand healthy. Perhaps, along with the continued success of the CX-5, these two crossovers will ensure actual cars continue to flow out of the brand.
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