Future Mazda Platform Will Fill Sedan Segment Left Open By Chevy19
At this point, Chevrolet’s departure from the sedan segment is well-documented. Following an industry-wide shift towards trucks and SUVs, Chevrolet has killed off the majority of its four-door, three-box offerings, including the Volt, the Cruze and the Impala. However, as Chevy exits the segment, other brands are moving in. Mazda is one of those brands, as it was recently revealed that the Japanese automaker is currently developing a new rear-wheel-drive platform and a new inline-six engine.
This latest development arrives courtesy of a recently published investor presentation. The latter indicates that Mazda is indeed planning a brand-new vehicle platform dubbed “Large Architecture,” which leads us to believe the new underpinnings will support vehicles in the D-segment and above. The future Mazda platform will most likely support rear-wheel drive, as evidenced by indications of a “longitudinal engine layout,” with all-wheel drive offered as an available option.
What’s more, the presentation reveals a new inline-six engine line, including a new diesel powerplant to boot. A 48-volt mild hybrid system and plug-in hybrid are mentioned, in addition to an EV powertrain. In fact, Mazda unveiled its first fully electric vehicle, the MX-30 crossover, at the Tokyo Auto Show last October.
The future Mazda platform and engine line will help move Mazda towards its stated goal of a more premium position in the market, and will come draped in a fresh evolution of the automaker’s Kodo design language. These next-gen models are expected to arrive between 2020 and 2025, most likely with the next-generation Mazda6 sedan leading the charge.
The timing of the future Mazda platform and engine line is critical. Mazda is not a huge company – in 2018, the automaker sold just 300,325 vehicles, which is peanuts compared to the 2,036,023 vehicles sold by Chevy. And yet, this relatively niche Japanese automaker is investing in a new rear-wheel drive platform and six-cylinder engine line, while Chevy offers no mainstream RWD platform and no mainstream six-cylinder engine is its remaining sedan lineup.
Mazda’s intended move towards the premium segment is also critical. While many outlets report that Mazda will evolve into a luxury brand capable of competing with the likes of Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, we think Mazda will instead add premium features in a bid to up-charge its current vehicle line and outshine its current mainstream rivals, rather than step into a new segment altogether.
Indeed, Mazda almost needs a whole new sub-brand to compete with the likes of Cadillac, and we just don’t think that’s feasible for a company as small as Mazda, especially with Cadillac bolstering its luxury sedan lineup with new models like the CT4 and CT5.
And of course, anyone that sees the combination of rear-wheel drive and six-cylinder power is sure to think about performance. Mazda has built a reputation for instilling its lineup with crisp handling and solid driver engagement, but the only Mazda model currently offered with rear-wheel drive is the MX-5 Miata. As such, the future Mazda platform outlined in the presentation will likely cement Mazda’s brand perception as fun-to-drive and sporty, two characteristics sorely lacking from Chevy’s mainstream lineup.
Granted, the Camaro and Corvette are obviously high-performance leaders, but the rest of the Chevy lineup doesn’t soak up the sport associations quite like Mazda’s portfolio. Adding a Redline appearance package simply doesn’t do the job like performance-oriented chassis and suspension tuning.
At the end of the day, Chevrolet may find it hard to compete without a complete catalogue on offer, even with a general market shift away from the four-door sedan segment. And that’s where Mazda could very well shine with this new platform and engine.
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Thru November Mazda sold 19,894 Mazda6es in the U.S. down 30.6% from last year. Raising the price won’t help sales.
Mazda CX-5 signature with 2.5 litter turbo are selling like hot cakes in nyc area . Audi like performance with fancy premium leather seats . $20k higher than base model
People on both coasts with good jobs will pay .
It looks like Mazda is looking to take advantage of GM and Ford abandoning sedans and coupes. It sounds like a smart gamble because there are still people who don’t want CUV’s and SUV’s. It’s akin to the situation where Ford, GM, and Chrysler abandoned the small/mid-size pickup truck market and Toyota then swept in and filled the niche. The Big Three finally realized their mistake, but Tacoma yearly sales still dwarf those of the Colorado and Canyon combined.
If I’m not mistaken the Spark, Sonic and Malibu is still on sale. Yes I’d like to see a VSS-R Chevy.
Mazda can keep making sedans with rear-wheel-drive and six cylinders, but the great GM can’t? That says it all.
As someone who works at a Volvo and Mazda dealership in the fleet department, I think I may be able to share a little here. First, Mazda has been notorious about saying they are bringing something to market, but they don’t deliver. Case in point? Mazda 6 diesel. For those who may know, it’s now more that 6 years they have been promising the M6 diesel, and nothing. It took them forever (but not like the Mazda 6 diesel) to bring the CX5 diesel here. We show 3 in our inventory that we have had for more than 4 months now. Almost none of the sales staff even knows we have them. Mazda has not done one ounce of training on that model. I could go on, but the point is that Mazda may say this. Doing it may be an entire other story.
Second, all the cars Mazda sells are down from the past years. Even the all new 2019 Mazda 3 may be selling well, but nothing like it did a couple years ago. Mazda is a small company. Bringing sedans to a shrinking market isn’t likely to happen. Like the rest, they are concentrating on the SUV market. Lastly, for those who think the CX5 is king, spend a few miles in one and then go drive a Buick Encore or Envision. Not even close. The Buick’s outshine the Mazda in nearly every area.
Mazda has been making some great vehicles lately with exceptional interiors. Hard to recommend anything other than the Mazda3 and CX-5 in their respective class
And the new Miata with power and torque bump is an absolute hoot
That’s a little company that deserves all credit when given.
Mazda is grasping here. Eventually all sedans will be gone except for specialty units like high performance or super cheap little commuter cars. And then those will all be electric soon too.
GM needs to share this with them… What does Mazda know the pin heads at GM don’t? probably a lot as GM continues to “cut costs”…. morons.
Given Mazda sold about 20k 6’s: I don’t think GM is missing out on anything. Also, Mazda’s CUV aren’t hot sellers either so I guess they have to find a niche somewhere.
That platform/engine is also to be used by Lexus for a few models in their lineup, so that will help Mazda spread out costs. There will also be a flagship coupe to spot above the Miata that will utilize the platform as well (possible non rotary RX vehicle). I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next gen CX-9 moves to the platform as well. They have been planning this RWD platform for years, they couldn’t do it alone because development costs are too much for tiny Mazda to absorb alone. Most will take this with a grain of salt but this is definitely happening.
May the odds be ever in their favor……
19,000 Mazda 6’s sold through 2019…..setting the world on FIRE they aren’t…..
I think there might be more unsold Impalas in dealer inventory than Mazda 6’s sold to actual customers.
As someone who doesn’t actually own a Mazda but sells them, I can say this much. The Mazda 6 is (IMO) probably the best mid-sized sedan on the market. I sell them, I drive them to deliveries, I ride in many different brand cars for Uber rides back to the dealership (most of which are Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai). Even though I’m a GM guy more than anything, I can say that the M6 is nicer than the Malibu and only slightly nicer than the Fusion.
I just wish I could say the same about the rest of the lineup. Personally, I hate driving the CX5. IMO, one of the worst in that class. Yet it gets super reviews by all the import lovers.
I rented a CX5 last year with my family and spent over 1,500 miles in it and we all LOVED it. I have two very tall teenage boys who even fit in the back seat and we had room for luggage. It was very comfortable and fun to drive. If I was in that market, I’d definitely get one.
What Mazda really needs to do is Electrify their lineup. They look amazing, and good looking EV’s sell in big volumes. As much as I like the Mazda 6, it only manages 29 mpg while most competitors have hybrid offerings (other than GM).
Lack of investment killed GM’s auto product line. When you severely limit choice, and push the same old stuff for ten years, people tend to look elsewhere. Bravo Mazda, sign me up.
i’ll take mazda’s kodo design over gm’s camaro infused designs any day.
i’m rooting for them. they punch above their weight and deliver great value. they seem to give a damn about the details.
I was given a Cruze when I brought my camaro in for work, and it was by far the worst car I driven. It did nothing good. If GM makes a sedan it should it should be the best or near best in class
What I dont get is that they still sell a reasonable amount of malibus to actually keep them relevant. Sure it’s not first place but then again it’s hard to battle stalwarts like the accord and the Camry. If they put as much effort into the Malibu as they have with the new gen Corvette, Tahoe, and Suburban. It’s a possibility that it could take the majority of the fusion sales when it gets discontinued. I’m not saying that it will go toe to toe with the accord and Camry but consistently building it up it could catch up to the Altima in sales.