By on April 14, 2020

Mazda Vision Coupe Concept

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]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

65 Comments on “Next-generation Mazda 6: The Best a Mazda (Sedan) Can Get?...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    A RWD, 350hp I6 sedan that’s likely start under $45k? In 2022?

    I’ll believe it when I see it, but if it happens I’ll be interested.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    “The new engine — developed with help from partner Toyota”

    Perhaps the Z4upra criticism is actually hitting home if Toyota is assisting in the development of an I6.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The front edge of that hood will look amazing with some wrinkles in it.

    Design tip: Carefully consider the effect of “in-use forming operations”* when selecting materials for the first forward point of contact for a vehicle.

    *Example: Parallel parking in Manhattan.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    If this is true, I’m glad to see Mazda finally trying to back up their sporting image with a product other than the Miata. Wish they did it 15 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I would definitely consider such a car. I am still a sedan guy, one of the few left. I have owned a few Mazda’s. My first brand new car in my life was a Protege’ 5. I had a Mazdaspeed6 and a 2014 Mazda6 6mt. One thing I have noticed in recent years is how uncompetitive Mazda is in the actual showroom.

      I would love to own an AWD 350hp Mazda sedan. But not if its priced like a luxury mark.

      Mazda’s lack of a captive finance arm means that deals are not as easy to come by as other larger brands. If you are interested in leasing, you will get very realistic residuals instead of pie in the sky numbers to bring lease prices down. Just an observation.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    looks like a hood w/ another car attached

    maybe it’s the angle but the hood looks 50% of the length w/ the passenger area almost 40% and rear 10%

    it will be a flop if it ever gets here, but what’s Mazda to do? It’s entering its Studebaker stage, trying, desperately, to go up market as its fortunes wane

    Mazda is not and never will be accepted as upmarket, there are too many better alternatives and there aren’t enough advertising dollars out there to make it happen – Bloomberg showed US the futility of that

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “It’s entering its Studebaker stage, trying, desperately, to go up market as its fortunes wane.”

      That comment is money. I’ve never seen their situation described so aptly.

      As part of this sad tale, I’d include their efforts to resurrect the rotary engine as an EV range extender.

      • 0 avatar
        StudeDude

        Studebaker stopped innovating on their mechanicals in the early 1950s other than the intro of superchargers and early adoption of disc brakes. Mazda is always working to innovate their drivetrains and suspension as well as electronics and material usage. Their tie up with Toyota gives them an assist with their R&D efforts. Sorry Chief but I don’t see the parallels between the two.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          “Mazda is always working to innovate their drivetrains and suspension as well as electronics and material usage.”

          If nobody cares, what’s the point?

          For the most part, the market has declared that ‘good enough’ for 10% less money makes the sale. This is why Hyundai/Kia have been successful. For example, they don’t need class-leading suspensions.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Perhaps not Studebaker, the failing company that sucked Packard into sharing their much better financials into their own black-hole financials but more of a SAAB – General Motors situation by partnering with Toyota. Going “upscale”, sending out PR communications such as this one for a “future product” as they have done previously over and over without that “future product” ever arriving seems to be more throwing random things at the wall hoping something will stick and change the trajectory of their sales. All of this Toyota-Mazda future awesome RWD Mazda 6 is probably just more of the smoke-and-mirrors PR similar to previous efforts. The partnership with Toyota most likely benefits the Toyota side the most as it gives Toyota the existing platform of the Mazda2 to sell as a Yaris without needing to do the associated engineering and design (and thus avoiding these costs to Toyota) and Mazda collects some cash to maintain operations in some sort of tolling arrangement between them which is probably the only current benefit to Mazda. Of Mazda’s total world-wide market, the USDM is less than 25% of that total. They are more successful outside the USDM and that’s where the majority their money is made. With only one vehicle model selling with any sort of volume (and, possibly the CX-30 being the second model – we shall see), it is difficult to see anything but some sort of misguided pride keeping them in the market or even relevant. Maybe another comparison for Mazda would be with Suzuki, a company that also had a much better market outside the USDM.

  • avatar
    gasser

    The development money would have been better spent in updating the CX-9.
    I am afraid the ship has sailed for the 3 and the 6.

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      The problem with the cx9 is the small 3rd row seat/cargo area. Utility comes 1st with 3 row crossovers (cuz mom wants a minivan without calling it that) and the cx9 falls short compared to all the competition.

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        Sorry sir but thats not totally true. The new for 2020 Toyota Highlander still has less overall real life usable space. So although you are mostly correct. This new crop of mid sizers have gotten pretty big overall. But according to my butt in the seats test the Highlander is still the smallest back there.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          For many, space within a garage or parking on the street becomes an issue (which is also why the Sorento sells as well as it does).

          Problem w/ the CX-9 is that it is larger than everything but the Traverse and yet, has one of the tightest 3rd rows.

          • 0 avatar
            StudeDude

            Since most 3 row models rarely if ever use that rear most seat, it is not that much of an issue.

  • avatar
    AnalogMan

    I would be totally into this, but only if it was offered with a manual transmission. But, if it’s going to be a ‘mild hybrid’, that probably won’t happen.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Same here. I want I6 RWD bare bone Mazda sedan with MT in the range of $25K, no turbo, no hybrid. No luck

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Here we go. Well I want a 458 Italia for 50 grand. Want in one hand and take a dump in the other…see which one gets full first.

        25 grand is Civic Si money…not RWD inline 6 powered money.

        • 0 avatar
          Chocolatedeath

          Say it again…lol…something for nothing.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          @Art.

          Wait a minute. I said, bare bone. Si has Turbo, Sunroof, special sport seats, 18″ wheels, bunch of nannies, premium stereo, etc

          I trade all these for I6 RWD. And upholstered seats, 16″ wheels. All I need is cruise, basic stereo/4 speakers, power windows. No need for push button start, apple carplay, etc.

          I think, this can be $25K manual I6 basic Mazda. Now, if you want to load it, make a luxury trim with leather and sell for $35K, I don’t care

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The wish list keeps getting better. So long as we are talking about a dying segment anyway, might as well go all-in with asking for an unsellable configuration.

            If it’s any consolation, a turbo I6 is almost definitely limited to more expensive trims. Mazda is likely to cut off a couple of cylinders for a volume model with less equipment. Hopefully it will have a manual, but with even the 3 series and a4 not offering manuals, I’m not optimistic.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          @art
          Another thought… With economy going into drain, may be de-contenting and de-pricing will happen after all

  • avatar
    cprescott

    1970’s Detroit wants its design philosophy back. That is so old fashioned – long hood, short decklid. Further proof that Mazduh has no clue as to what it wants to do – it just wants to charge you through the nose for whatever fake luxury they can manage.

    • 0 avatar
      Guy A

      Mazda has a very consistent design language so to say they have no idea is laughable. If only most competitors could design their cars and interiors anywhere near as well as Mazda.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Even then why spend bmw/mercedes $$$ for a mazda? Kia tried to take on the germans with the Stinger and it hasn’t been a hot seller. Since it’s 2013 intro the 6 has been a failure, Mazda should just kill the 6 outright at this point or get back to the formula that made the 1st gen 6 great but that doens’t jive with their “upmarket move”.
    fun body styles
    fun colors
    fun to drive in real life, not on paper. Good paper stats don’t make fun driving!

    Oh yea wheres that 6 diesel we were promised in 2013 haha.

    honestly though nobodys buying mazdas sedans. Their corssovers are selling reasonablly well but the 3 is bombing. My neighbor got a new 3 and after six months of ownership he just traded it for a new cx3. Go with whats winning mazda.

  • avatar
    deanst

    Probably the best answer to a question no one is asking.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Exactly. Mazda left the cheering crowd behind in a trail of its new pricing policy and entered the world where nobody is looking for it. As I said above, make it less luxury, less pricey, a good-driving, honest auto, and you will see a lot of following.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        slavuta, it sounds like what’s working for you isn’t working for them anymore. perhaps this doesn’t need to be said but… it’s not personal.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          cough, cough… What’s working for me was working for them. The models I used to buy, [AMAZING!], were best-sold model-years for them. Once they introduces this trimming, when you need to get leatherette if you want something else, sales started to fail big. their 2010-2013(non skyaktiv) probably most reliable cars ever. It was on the raise. But then came 2014 and it looked good but packaging became bad.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    An AWD Mazda6 with 300 hp and the kind of handling Mazda is famous for would get my attention. I could tolerate the hybrid drive train with an automatic transmission. (They’re good enough now that a manual is just for fun.) What I fear, if they do it at all, is that they will leave it short on power. Then, the auto trans and safety nannies switch from annoyances, that can be tolerated because the rest of the package is so good, to additional reasons not to buy. (That’s why I don’t have a Mazda3.)

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      According to most of the B&B, AWD is ridiculous and only necessary two days a year in the snowiest of locations. It just adds excess cost, weight, and maintenance headaches to a vehicle. /s

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Well, the logic that the Mazda CTO gave for going RWD was that they wanted a bigger presence in the North American market and that this market requires something bigger than an inline 4. Since they wanted to share the engine development with the existing engine, that meant an I6 instead of a V6, which in turn meant RWD.

    Whether this makes any business sense, I don’t know, but I’d be love to see it.

    Anyways, they’ve also announced that the first car to use this new RWD platform will be a CX-5 replacement and the new Mazda6 will come after that. It will be a while before we see this car.

  • avatar

    This is the kind of vehicle Cadillac should be designing.

    What a disgrace!!!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Beautiful concept design.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I like the looks but don’t be surprised if it comes out with a battery-electric version. It may be something other than an inline six mounted under that long hood.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I hate to say it….but Mazda should do this but add 5″ more ground clearance, extend the rear cargo area, and add some plastic cladding.

    Sounds good, but sedans are DEAD.

    Said it before but Mazda’s problems are not the vehicles. They look good, drive well, get good MPG, and are very reliable.

    The problem is their dealer network is not good. Their dealers are not a premium experience at all. And Mazda doesn’t throw cash around like they’re the Federal Reserve. I’m sure plenty of people would be interested in Mazdas if they didn’t have to drive 1 hour to the nearest dealership and Mazda could get them into cars for $149/month like the big boys.

    Actually think the Toyota tie-up makes a lot of sense for both companies. Mazda has some excellent engineering, particularly on RWD that Toyota can leverage. I6 engines can be shared. Toyota can perhaps get Mazda under its finance wing and start making deals. Perhaps Mazda can get some Lexus dealer practices to rub off on them.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Not sure if what you said makes much sense. Mazda currently has 1 RWD car and Toyota – … plenty – 4Runner, Supra, 86, Sequoia, Bunch of Lexuses and trucks. + other RWD models we don’t see in NA. Now, how is Mazda has better RWD engineering?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Not a fan of the long hood. My 13 Optima is/was a beauty, but its hood makes parking tricky, not to mention stop-n-go traffic.

    They ought to turn that I-6 sideways like Volvo did on the last-gen S60 T6. They even managed to pack 2 turbos and AWD in the engine bay; it was a modern design miracle.

    http://www.bestcarsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2012-Volvo-T6-engine.jpg

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Volvo_S60_Polestar_-_T6_3.0l_V6_turbo_%28MSP16%29.jpg

  • avatar
    dal20402

    At what dealers will they sell a $40k I6 RWD sedan?

    If they want to build BMWs, they need dealers that are like BMW dealers.

    They can make the most amazing product in the world and without a better, bigger, less sketchy dealer network they will still be stuck in the sales basement.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      It will be easy enough for current Mazda dealers to start screwing customers in the service bay and nickle and diming them at sale time, just like any BMW dealer. But hey, the Coffee is good I guess.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    Ok here’s one question for people. I searched for new Mazda3 FWD sedan with the preferred package, which is how I would buy this new sedan. There were a bunch of brand new 2019s, and they seem to be advertised for exactly 20k. You can get that price for 2020s, but must drop down in trim. Same trim advertisements start around 23k. This is obviously 2.5 4cyl with 6at.

    Then I ran an identical search for Acura ILX, which is 2.4 4cyl with DCT. No 2019s, cheapest 2020s are advertised at 25k. Which one would you get?

  • avatar
    stuki

    Beautiful. Looks a fair bit like the best looking 4 door of the 21st century, the Rapide. Which I seem to be the only one who love. The Mazda will probably lack the V12…. But make up for it in sophistication, reliability and affordability.

    The reality is, the future of swoopy sedans like this, will predominantly be determined by whether Chinese drivers will ever develop a taste for driving along all that Belt and Road infrastructure themselves, instead of being chauffeured between Louis Vuitton shops in sensory deprivation chambers.

  • avatar
    bd2

    This info. has been floating around for some time now, including the new RWD platform and I6 forming the basis for future Lexus models such as a new IS.

  • avatar

    IMO Cadillac concepts looks better: https://www.cadillac.com/concept-vehicles/escala-coupe-sedan.

    Cadillac is a real luxury brand with heritage going back to Henry Leland and Henry Ford.

    In my book Mazda makes mistake. No one needs another luxury brand with zero heritage and plebeian roots. They better focus on what they can do right and what Mazda buyers demand. They do not demand unaffordable pseudoluxury pretense of luxury car.

    But the biggest mistake is to waste money on the ICE. They should focus instead on the development of new EV models. No one is going to buy CO2 producing monsters very soon. ICE vehicles will soon be outlawed. If you think it is not possible – look around. Until recently you thought it is impossible to shut down the whole economy for uncertain period of time. Until it happened and everyone including you are supporting it.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t dislike this concept but I doubt this would be a mass seller as a rear wheel drive straight I-6. I would say keep the current Mazda 6 the way it is and make this a specialty car similar to what the Kia Stinger is for those enthusiast that want a rear wheel drive performance car. I do agree with Inside Looking Out that it is a waste of money to spend money on a new ICE vehicle with limited sales potential. With California and other states asking for higher mpg standards I believe that ICE vehicles will reach a ceiling where it is too hard and too expensive to squeeze any more efficiency out of ICE. It might become too expensive for most manufacturers to make ICE vehicles and those they make will be more limited in volume and more expensive.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      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

  • avatar
    PastMazdaspeed6

    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.

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Inside Looking Out: Saturn tried that – did not work. Can we say that Saturn was an iPhone of the cars?
  • conundrum: The Apple business plan of buying something for $50 each from outside supplier(s) and selling it for $1500...
  • Inside Looking Out: Van Rivian.
  • Inside Looking Out: The same was with iPhone. In 2009-2010 we were working on new smartphones from...
  • Inside Looking Out: Competition and high price and/or shortage of gasoline will help fleet managers to figure out...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber