Next-generation Mazda 6: The Best a Mazda (Sedan) Can Get?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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.

[Image: Mazda]

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  • StudeDude StudeDude on Apr 16, 2020

    I believe that Mazda will manufacture the new RWD 6 with both 4 and the new 6 cylinder powertrains. That will give them maximum flexibility in pricing and performance depending on the market where it's sold. AWD could be an option on either. The chassis will be an offshoot of the current Toyota platform saving time and money. Mazda will do the engine and use Aisin sourced 8 spd autos through the Toyota hookup. Toyota will use the Mazda engine in Lexus and maybe the Supra.

    • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Apr 16, 2020

      I would rather Mazda did the chassis and Toyota did the engine, but you are probably right. Can't wait to see what using a Lexus platform does for pricing on a Mazda with upmarket aspirations. Oh well

  • PastMazdaspeed6 PastMazdaspeed6 on Apr 21, 2020

    There has been a lot of talk about Mazda reliability. As a past owner of a Mazdaspeed6 for over 10 years, to be direct reliability was horrible. I spent over $25k in repairs during my ownership. I had to replace pretty much everything. I had talked with other Mazdaspeed6 owners and they had similar experiences: a money pit. As I came to realize, you get what you pay for. So I spent the money with my next and current car. No repairs whatsoever for years. Note I tend to hold onto cars for a long time. Again, you get what you pay for. Mazda is not a luxury or performance car manufacturer. In my opinion, they build great looking cars, but they are some of the most under-powered and unreliable cars out there. Mazda: please give up on the rotary already. If you purchased a non-mazdaspeed vehicle, you might have had a different and more positive ownership experience because you were not driving spirited. I think some car manufacturers are going to have a long overdue reckoning with the COVID-19 pandemic. In Capitalism, only the strong survive and flourish. Perhaps, their will be less players on the field in the near future and enable some to pick up more market share. That would be more dollars for developing vehicles. Probably better for everyone.

  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
  • Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
  • Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.
  • Jeff S Got to give credit to Chrysler for putting the 300 as a rear wheel drive back on the market. This will be a future classic.