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Mazda recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its 6 model, which arrived in 2002 as a replacement for the 626 - but how much longer will the party last?
Mazda Australia is committed to the 6 for as long as it is produced in right-hand drive, despite declining sales and the current model entering its second decade on sale. The current Mazda6 is the third-generation model but has been on sale since December 2012, so it accounts for exactly half of the model’s entire lifespan.
When the current Mazda6 first went on sale Julia Gillard was Australia’s Prime Minister, Michael Clarke was captain of the Australian cricket team and Daniel Craig was still James Bond. And sales of medium-sized sedans were soaring, with 58,873 recorded sales across the segment and 7701 sales of the Mazda6 in 2013 (the first full year the current model was on sale).
Jump ahead to 2022 and sales in the medium-sized family car market have plummeted to just 13,533, with the Mazda accounting for 1511 of those.
Which leads us back to the original question - how much longer can the Mazda6?
Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi is adamant that Australian buyers will get access to the sedan and wagon for as long as possible but hinted that a replacement is unlikely.
“Mid-size sedans globally, is not where the market is,” Bhindi said. “The market has, for a period, been looking at SUV. More recently the priority is the drivetrain, and electrified drivetrain, so when you look at the priorities of Mazda Corporation and what we’ve been told, it is SUVs, it is electrified powertrains.
“From a Mazda Australia point-of-view - as long as Mazda makes a Mazda6 - we’ll offer a Mazda6 to Australian consumers. In terms of a next one in the future, it’s a bit hard to comment on when we know the priorities are the appropriate drivetrains and SUVs.”
Mazda was reportedly planning a fourth generation based on the new platform developed for the range of premium SUVs (CX-60, CX-70, CX-80 and CX-90), but this plan was kiboshed according to Mazda chief designer of CX-60 Akira Tamatani, who told CarsGuide that the underpinnings wouldn’t work for a sedan.
There was also a suggestion that the Japanese could reinvent the Mazda6 as an electric car, but all signs point to Mazda leaving the mid-size sedan segment altogether in favour of directing resources to SUVs.
“Mazda Corporation hasn't declared if they’re going to end it, or when they’re going to end it, so in terms of the next model, the priority will go to the other body styles,” Bhindi said.
But how long Mazda can keep producing the car remains unclear, with the right-hand-drive British market dropping it in January, 2023, and it was axed from Mazda’s US and Canadian operations back in 2021.
However, it remains on-sale in Japan and as long as it remains viable to produce, it looks set to continue even as sales dwindle, and the current model continues to get older.