Mazda Says Rear-Drive Mazda6 Replacement Isn't Happening

mazda says rear drive mazda6 replacement isnt happening

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]

Join the conversation
2 of 35 comments
  • John R John R on Mar 22, 2022

    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.

  • DungBeetle62 DungBeetle62 on Mar 24, 2022

    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?

  • Bryan Raab Davis I briefly dated an Australian fellow who was mad for Aspires; one of his better characteristics, if I’m honest.
  • ToolGuy Check out Ferrari's market cap:
  • ToolGuy • Not sure who you get when you call the "Company phone" number listed on the recall report, but confident that it ISN'T Ferrari (someone either screwed up or made a conscious exception; recall might need a recall; where is my excellence in government that all of you are funding?).• 99% of them are fine.• On later models, additionally, a message will also appear on the vehicle’s dashboard that reads as follows: “Brake fluid level low, Go to dealer slowly”. That right there is classic.• Anyway, this is what happens when you build to a price point... (ba dum tsh!)
  • Art Vandelay And what a giant pile of sh!t ths new format is. Great job guys, way to run off the last of the die hards.
  • Theflyersfan If you ever want a review on a 2022 Mazda MX-5 GT RF, I'll be more than happy to type up a few thousand words and add in some great pictures in front of Churchill Downs for y'all!In a nutshell, I agree with this review. I didn't have a chance to try the Recaro seats because the only test drive available was with another GT that someone backed out in buying so it was being used as a demo. But from what I was told, if you're larger than a 38 waist or taller than 5'10", it gets tight. But with the standard seats, and I'm 5'10" and maybe 20 pounds from the 38 waist, I fit fine. Now getting in and out with the roof up after shoulder surgery (especially leaving the surgery center with most of the right arm under a nerve block) is the total opposite of graceful!!! The look on the nurse's face when the MX-5 pulled up and I'm partially wrapped up like a mummy was priceless.I've had mine since the middle of April and have already put 6,700 miles on it, including round trips from Louisville to Chicago and the Philadelphia suburbs. Averaged 38-39 mpg at a steady 75 mph, and it wasn't a torture chamber. The metal top helped a lot. The standard seats are a bit thin on padding, and there was a bit of squirming by around hour 8 on the Philly drive, but it's possible. But even though this design was released in 2015, I still get compliments from total strangers at stoplights, carwashes, gas stations, restaurants, etc. The Soul Red Metallic paint just makes the car pop. I wish it was available with the Terra Cotta leather (the gray above is available with it), and that it didn't have the standard all in black, because it gets thermonuclear in there with the top down and the sun beating on you, but a minor quibble. But it's just fun. Pure driving fun. The best stick shift in any car today. Solid brakes, excellent handling, a sane amount of power to where you aren't going to get into anything reckless and stupid. After a 12+ hour day at work, there's nothing better than dropping the top and driving the 20 minutes home with the better than I thought it would be Bose stereo playing Moby into my ears through the headrest speakers. Mazda has already announced there will be an NE model so I can't wait for that. It'll be interesting how they will keep the weight down with the expected changes to eke more MPG out of what is already an efficient car.