Could the Mazda6 return with rear-wheel-drive and a straight-six?

The Mazda6 retired from the American market after the 2022 model year, and at the time it sounded like a successor wasn’t in the pipeline. Mazda may have changed its mind: a recent rumor claims the sedan will return with rear-wheel-drive in the second half of the 2020s.

Citing anonymous sources, Japanese magazine Best Car wrote that the next-generation Mazda6 is currently under development. It shouldn’t have happened; the brand planned to pivot away from sedans to focus on crossovers like most of its peers and rivals, but the success of recent, more upmarket additions to the range like the three-row CX-90 reportedly convinced executives to retain a foothold in the segment.

The publication learned that the next-generation 6 will be aimed largely at the North American market, where it will help Mazda cement its newfound premium positioning, though it will also be sold in other markets such as Japan (where the current-generation model remains available). Visually, it will eschew the traditional three-box design and instead adopt a sleek-looking, fastback-like silhouette; this should ensure it doesn’t get overshadowed by crossovers like the CX-90. Its front end will fall in line with the brand’s Kodo design language.

Many of the sedan’s underpinnings, including the rear-wheel-drive platform, will come from the CX-90. Globally, the range of available engines will include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 3.3-liter straight-six, and a 3.3-liter turbodiesel straight-six. We’re unlikely to see the latter on our shores, but the first two are a safe bet. Rear-wheel-drive will come standard, and all-wheel-drive will be offered at an extra cost.

If the rumor is accurate, the next-generation Mazda6 won’t make its debut until 2025 at the earliest. We’re taking the report with a grain of salt, however. Mazda hasn’t commented on it, and it hasn’t publicly announced plans to fill the void that the 6 left when it retired in 2021.

And, if the next Mazda6 is indeed on its way, it will land as a very unique car. With the Kia Stinger gone and the Dodge Charger retiring at the end of 2023, the non-luxury rear-wheel-drive sedan powered by (or available with) a six-cylinder engine is about to die. This means that, on paper, the next 6’s closest competitors would come from German luxury brands. Pricing, equipment, and build quality are among the factors that will decide whether a Mazda6 is a credible rival to a BMW 3 Series, but it sounds like Mazda knows exactly what it’s shooting for.

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