By on March 21, 2022

When Mazda announced it would be discontinuing the midsize Mazda6 sedan for the U.S. market, some were crestfallen. With the industry having spent the better part of a decade moving away from the body style to support models they could associate with higher price tags, there’s been a deficit of good sedans of late. But a seed of hope was left intact when the company announced it would be pulling the Mazda 6 from our market.

You see, the company had long been teasing a rear-drive variant utilizing a powerful inline-six motor. Mazda was also going upmarket, indicating the possibility of the model returning to do battle with midsized German products with a higher price tag. But it’s looking like the concept is going into the trash bin along with Mazda’s suggestion of bringing back RX performance vehicles and creating rotary range extenders for EVs

Joachim Kunz, Mazda Europe’s engineering and development head, has basically told Autocar (shared via CarBuzz) that the profit margin for crossovers is too juicy for the company to pursue something that would actually be fun for people to drive.

“It would be very nice … to have the [front-engine, rear-driven] concept and six-cylinder engine for a Mazda6 successor or a large sports coupe. We would like to have it, but at this point in time, it’s most important to sell SUVs.” Kunz stated. “This SUV trend is continuing, and even more for Mazda. It’s what’s selling best.”

Mazda has made and broken a lot of big promises over the last few years. While that’s hardly unique for any automaker, Mazda was previously obsessed with delivering engaging driving dynamics at prices that wouldn’t break the bank. It’s since opted to go upmarket but has gradually stepped away from the old Zoom-Zoom formula that underpinned its earlier ad campaigns. It still produces fun-to-drive automobiles, most notably the MX-5 and Mazda3 Turbo, but its current focus has shifted toward delivering handsomely styled vehicles with premium-feeling interiors.

This represents a victory in some respects. The fact that Mazda can deliver slightly underpowered crossovers that aren’t totally boring to drive is indeed praiseworthy. But it’s been missing something special ever since it dumped the RX-8 and nixed future MazdaSpeed variants. One might even suggest that it needs those vehicles if it’s seriously considering becoming a competitor to brands like BMW.

We’ve received reports from Japan for years that claimed an all-new Mazda6 was forthcoming. Rumored to be based on the 2017 Vision Coupe concept, the vehicle was supposed to utilize rear-drive-biased architecture. It was later suggested that the model might be a luxury successor to the midsize sedan, offering optional AWD and a higher-output, mild-hybrid motor. Mazda even hinted that such a car was in development on more than one occasion, only to continue introducing new crossover models as it hyped electrification.

But this looks to be the final nail in the coffin. In addition to Kunz being pretty frank about the importance of SUV sales, Mazda Australia’s marketing director was already attempting to soften the blow. Last month, Alastair Doak told Drive that the prospect of a rear-drive Mazda6 was an interesting one with “heaps of speculation around it.” But ultimately settled on its chances being poor due to the popularity of crossover vehicles.

“I guess, if you look around the world … [the] traditional car/sedan market has been shrinking for many years, not just in Australia, so I guess our priority globally will be the [rear-wheel-drive] Large Architecture and [Mazda’s SUVs],” Doak said.

[Image: Mazda]

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35 Comments on “Mazda Says Rear-Drive Mazda6 Replacement Isn’t Happening...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So, this guy is speaking for Mazda Europe, but I’m assuming he’s speaking for the U.S. market as well? It wouldn’t surprise me. After all, we must CUV All The Things, preferably With Maximum Plastic Side Cladding and Numerous Fake Macho Off-Road Styling Cues.

    A RWD 6 sedan always sounded like vaporware to me.

    (And the “somewhat exciting crossovers” description is kind, even with the turbo option.)

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    “Joachim Kunz, Mazda Europe’s engineering and development head, has basically told Autocar that the profit margin for crossovers is too juicy for the company to pursue something that would actually be fun for people to drive.”

    Sad, but clearly true. I remember when car brochures would give arcane information such as the firing order of the pistons. These days, the best you can do on a manufacturer’s website is to learn that the car has an engine. Displacement? Power? Torque? Not many people care. How big is the touchscreen? Now THAT’s important.

    I loved the styling of this generation of the 6. It’s rolling art.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      It’s crazy how so many manufacturers make it difficult to see the hp of their vehicles on their websites. No wonder I have so little interest in new vehicles.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I owned a 2014 Mazda 6 with 6MT, also a 2006 Mazdaspeed6, so I am sad that there is no replacement, especially with the best hardware Mazda has ever had just on the horizon. However, the 6 has really been nailed to showroom floors so it not surprising at all that Mazda would shy away from the body style given its limited resources. Basically any sedan that doesn’t have a crazy profit margin or sell by the boatloads is headed for extinction.

    The upcoming CX-70 may even be a reasonably close to the ground alternative for most people with possible inline 6, RWD platform. I am sort of surprised that TTAC had zero coverage of the Euro/JDM market CX-60 shown a few weeks ago. Unless I missed that between the 29th and 30th installment of the history of the Chrysler Imperial.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      +1 on the never ending stream of articles on cars only of nostalgia interest. One, maybe two articles is fine, but after that its TL/DR. I am of the age wherein I remember the Chrysler Imperial and had even driven my friend’s parents’ 1959. Perhaps a bit more coverage of vehicles of this millennium is in order.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The old 6 may have been nailed to the showroom floor, but you wouldn’t have known it a year ago when I was looking at one, and was interested enough to start talking numbers with a couple of dealers. Apparently they were under the impression that it was actually a C8 ‘Vette.

      (And, yes, this was a few months before the empty-lot / price-gouging stupidity began in earnest.)

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Now that is a good call. The CX-60 could be really significant for Mazda. Where I live (eastern PA), the CX-5 is selling pretty well. They are actually quite plentiful on the ground. What else is rather more plentiful than you might expect? Teslas, actually. A PHEV Mazda could find a real niche here. I like the look of it, and I am excited to find out more about it.

      (Granted that what I really *want* is a RX-9, and a CX-anything is a poor substitute, but has its place.)

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Everything Mazda brings out is improbable given their size and resources. They are constantly overachieving. So I’m never surprised when they have to scale back plans.

    I’ll be very curious to see if they can produce a CX-9 or a reborn CX-7 using this proposed architecture. If they hit on all cylinders with it, such a CUV could easily be the thinking man’s Q5 or X3, likely with a superior experience.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Slow news day?

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    The majority of Mazdas market is outside of North America – around 70%. A rear drive in-line 6 isn’t a vehicle that likely could be marketed successfully in that majority market. As for Mazda being a small manufacturer with limited resources, there are other manufacturers somewhat smaller with a much larger North American market share. Mazdas worldwide sales last year were 1.3 million vehicles of which 332,756 were in North America or 26% of that worldwide total. Their market of concern is elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Mazdas number one market is U.S.A., but it not a market of concern for them? Not the best logic.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Mazdas number one single market may be the USDM (2.2% of the total USDM vehicle market in 2021) but the majority of their production is sold elsewhere worldwide. 952,000 of their vehicle production was not to the USDM. I’m sure that they are concerned (as they likely have been for several years) with the 26% of production sold in the US and problems with increasing market share but that other 74% of their production likely would be of higher concern should it have problems. I understand that some folks like Mazdas and good for them. Everyone loves them, people wax poetic about the virtues of a Mazda, but despite all of this not many seem to drive a new one home. Mazda does itself no favors by the many promises of the next big things coming from them that never seem to arrive. The RWD Mazda6 with the inline six cylinder engine is just another one of these promises. Mazda seems to resort to “smoke and mirrors” such as this now and then to attempt to keep interest in the brand to little effect. As for “Is Ford the only manufacturer with majority of sales in North America? I guess the other guys are just having a little fun.”, of course not. There are other manufacturers from outside the US that sell the majority of their production (well in excess of Mazdas 26% total production) in the USDM as most folks know. Mazda isn’t one of them.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          I would think something like that rear-drive 6 would be a hit in China. Of course, who knows how they market their vehicles there versus the USDM, and where they’re positioned.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Is Ford the only manufacturer with majority of sales in North America? I guess the other guys are just having a little fun.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Well, I am a bit bummed, but not entirely surprised. I like what Mazda has done with their SUVs. I guess I will have to look at this as a sort of “winter dormancy” for Mazda and their zoom-zoom. Maybe, one day, spring will return to our land. Maybe.

    Additionally, my heart could really use another RX. That’s just the “RX” that the doctor ordered. Though, perhaps not the right medicine for Mazda’s financial health at the moment.

  • avatar
    BEPLA

    Once again, Truck/SUV drivers are ruining things for the rest of us.

  • avatar

    So Fusion is gone, Mazda6 is gone. What left? Model 3, appliances like Camry and Accord and well, Malibu which has a zombie status. Oh, forgot to mention Koreans but who cares?

    On the other hand what options Mazda had? RWD Mazda most likely would compete with RWD Kia. Forget about BMW – its not gonna happen.

  • avatar
    Crashdaddy430

    Also in other news, santa clause isn’t real, your wife has had much better sexual partners than you, and that ‘thing’ on your computer will evenly be found when you least expect it, film at 11.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Building a RWD I-6 sedan would be just stupid as building another rotary.

    Mazda’s internet fans never convert into real buyers. The company is totally lost.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      The CX-5 remains a great vehicle – right sized, fun to drive. MPGs suck though.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I’d say it was fair to drive, personally. I drove a turbo model, and there was plenty of power, but the transmission felt lazy. If Mazda wants to compete as a “cheaper Audi” – which I think it could based on the chassis, styling and interiors – it should buy its’ transmissions from them.

    • 0 avatar
      AK

      Eh, I think Mazda makes good cars and I’ve been responsible for them selling a 2017 3 to my wife and two 2021 CX5s to immediate family within the past 6 months.

      People also say nobody puts their money where their mouth is when it comes affordable fun cars with manual transmissions but I purchased one in 2015, one in 2016 and now one in 2022.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    I’m assuming he’s only talking about the European market.
    This is also a market that never really bought many sedans outside of very few premium offerings. And about only other Japanese sedans currently on sale are Mazda3 “saloon” and Toyota Mirai FCEV. So really, this is a non-news.

    Mazda COO Kiyoshi Fujiwara already stated that RWD sedan is still coming but pushed back in favor of releasing SUV first. Given how stubborn that company is, I’m not worried that they will follow through on that promise.

    • 0 avatar
      1337cr3w

      “Mazda COO Kiyoshi Fujiwara already stated that RWD sedan is still coming”

      When was that? The most recent comments I can find from him are pre-pandemic

      • 0 avatar
        Varezhka

        This was right after the Mazda’s mid-term plan reassessment last June. I think it was from Chugoku Shinbun. Also, there’s a 6 part long interview series with Ichiro Hirose (Senior Managing Executive Officer) in Nikkei Business last November that discussed some of this.

        Not saying it’s happening for the US market, but it sounds like they’re still looking at a large platform sedan, just not until after the CX-60 ~ 90 SUVs.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Do I get my deposit back ?

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Not surprising. We have both a CX5 and a Mazda 6. The problem around here is that driving my 6 is just getting painful because the city and county refuse to take care of our roads. The issue for me with the CX5 is it has narrow seats compared to the 6. I’d be interested in a RWD CX9-ish sized vehicle without the 3rd row. A – la Kia Santa Fe.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      We’ve had a Santa Fe for just under 2 weeks, and we still like it. :)

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        I’m not in the market just yet, possibly at the end of the year, and the Santa Fe and Santa Cruz are on the top of my list, both in the limited trims. The problem is, they can’t be found within a 100 miles for me to test drive one.

  • avatar
    John R

    Welp. Can’t be surprised. A RWD inline-6 was kind of a big ask for Mazda.

    CUV/SUVs are a blight, but I’ve made my peace with it. Enthusiasts are just going to have to learn to be brand and region (Asia, Europe, US) flexible when it comes to these sort of products and take what we can get when and where we can get it.

  • avatar
    DungBeetle62

    They let me have one as a loaner when the Miata was having work done and it compared VERY favorably to the rental Camry I’d had on vacation. I just don’t have a need for anything in that class.

    Lesson here, as with the Miata, sometimes it’s the willingness to go where the others aren’t in the market. If they can continue to make a business case for the Miata at those sales volumes with that amount of unique and not-easily-shared componentry, surely some of that know-how could conjure up a RWD Mazda 6?

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