Mazda’s hotly anticipated FR platform will begin production in 2022

A new report out of Japan sheds some light onto what Mazda’s plans are for its upcoming front-engined, rear-wheel-drive platform. The chassis is eagerly awaited by Mazda’s hard-core fans (us included), as it will also include the long-awaited straight-six engine. It’s a combination that is largely considered to be the ideal format for true driving enthusiasts.

The report, from the Nikkei, says that suppliers are preparing to manufacture parts for the upcoming Mazda vehicles which will enter production in 2022. Additionally, it  says that the inline-six engines will have displacements of 3.0 to 3.3 liters, and be available in gasoline, diesel, and sparkless-combustion SkyActiv-X formats. Most will be “mild hybrids” and sticker “significantly higher” than current models, both necessities if Mazda hopes to stay in business through the end of this decade.

If we extrapolate, it means the cars will probably go on sale as 2023 model year vehicles. Based on our knowledge of Mazda’s workings, these will likely be followed by turbocharged version marketed as a range-topping performance variant. Most Mazdas will ride on either the small or large platform, with FF cars like the 3 and CX-30 built on the former, and FR cars built on the latter.

Also, though the FR chassis was developed with a sports sedan in mind, Mazda is now fast-tracking the SUVs based on this platform instead. These were initially slated to replace the CX-5 and CX-8, but now the Nikkei says Mazda will sell them concurrently with existing models (CX-50, anyone?). This is another necessary move due to the market’s insatiable appetite for SUVs, but hopefully it means that the sedan, a successor to the 6, isn’t put on permanent hold.

The article also paints a bleak picture of Mazda’s fortunes. Sales are down, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but even before that hit sales had been weak. New models that should be terrific on paper have underperformed in sales, including the Mazda 3, the revolutionary SkyActiv-X, and the just-launched MX-30 — whose rotary engine range extender has been confirmed for the US, by the way. Mazda is expected to lose $870 million for the fiscal year ending March 2021.

There are rumors that Mazda’s FR platform will underpin future rear-drive Toyotas as well. With the death of the Mark X, Crown, Lexus GS and remaining Lexus sedans like the IS being heavily modified versions on old chassis, we think this is a pretty good bet.

A lot hinges on these upcoming models, including the future of the company itself. We will soon find out if Mazda’s gamble on true enthusiast-friendly cars, its refusal to sell out, will pay off or spell doom for the small Hiroshima company.

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9 Responses to Mazda’s hotly anticipated FR platform will begin production in 2022

  1. jw said:

    No wonder sales are down… the Mazda3 with it’s beam axle handles worse and hops over bumps. And the styling is a disaster… you sit deep down inside a bathtub, and there is no rear/side visibility at all int he hatchback model.
    Then there is the disaster of the infotainment nav system, surely one of the worst in the business (and universally ignored by the press when they line up with their usual shallow accolades). This is the same system stil in use in 2021.
    And then there are the safety nannies… very aggressive. We just dumped our CX-5, with the same infotainment/nav and nannies; it had no zoom zoon qualifications at all. The engine was boring, the handling numb, and brake dive excessive. Our previous-gen Mazda3 (on the same platform and with the same engine, although with a 6-speed manual) was a far better car despite it’s identically lousy infotainment/nav.

  2. MikeRL411 said:

    Ah ! An inherently smooth running straight 6 ! Haven’t driven one since my 1965 Chevy NOVA wagon.

  3. Negishi no Keibajo said:

    One of m favorite engines was the 6 in my 240-Z. Reliable & smooth, it made me a believer in that “I could have had a V8” was not the answer. I’ve restored my Chevy 1/2 ton & kept the 6 in it.

    It helps with long nosed designs, a fetish I admit to… cars, boats planes…

    ***OT: I’ve tried for years to login to the forums but can’t with various reply messages. Any help?

    • JW said:

      The new 6 looks like a great engine from what we know… watch closely because it may be the last gas engine ever from Mazda given the latest Japanese regs.

  4. Tygerleo said:

    In general this is very beautiful design although it has too many overdone curve and other details — the current popular trend. I have to point out both front corners look like they are dent by other cars. Are those design elements or areodymic features?

    • jw said:

      The whole thing is a concept car… many thing will change.. for one thing the tires are far too large – there isn’t any wheel travel.
      And those “dents” can hardly help airflow get around the sides of the bumper.
      I just hope they don’t stick a MX30 grill on it… it’d be unbelievable ugly.
      And that it is indeed a sedan… it would sell better as an SUV but I;m not interested. I hope there is still some market for sedans but I also know it is shrinking very very fast.

  5. Retro Mike said:

    I’m a sedan guy and it pains me to see the sedan market shrinking so badly. In recent years, i’ve owned Infiniti G35 G37 and now Q50 as daily drivers and as regular lapping cars too. There’s an Audi RS7 in the garage too. While i won’t give up those cars, the new Mazda FR sedan is looking really attractive to add to the fleet. The biggest draw is the inline 6! To have the chance to own a rear drive inline-6 japanese car again (1st cars were 240Z & 280Z) and maybe for the last time is very appealing. And in sedan form no less? Beautiful!

    • JW said:

      I’ve also had a G37S sedan, supercharged, carefully tuned, and with suspension upgrades. Very nice results. I didn’t bother with the Q50 since it’s the same exact hard bits underneath and the new engine, while nice, doesn’t make as much power as mine did (although it will certainly do so more reliably in the long run). And the transmission is the same… and it’s more than a bit dated.
      Being the same platform, arguably you can say that the net-net hasn’t changed since around 2008, or at least certainly not enough to hold interest in the market and stay competitive. Like the Z (and we all know the Z Proto is the same thing under the skin, also just getting the new engine), we’ve had to wait too long for Nissan/Infiniti to finally make a move.
      I am a fan of the FM platform, it might be a bit heavy by modern standards, but it’s got very competent suspension geometry and lots of aluminum to save weight. I don’t believe the new Z Proto will have any updates to it other than probably bushings. It does go down the same assembly line and with the same commonality with the Q50/60 that it had with the G37 all these years. All the aftermarket suspension parts (control arms, sway bars, shocks) will probably go right on, just as they do between the G37/Q50/Q60, differing only in spring and damper rates.
      We know why Nissan waited so long for a new Z, it was very low sales. But the Q50/60 has been a top seller. I put the blame squarely on Johan de Nysschen … this was the 3rd car company he has messed up with grandiose plans and little to show for them. Will they show a new Q50/60 soon?
      The new Mazda sedan is certainly good looking… how much will translate into production is yet to be seen. And I am not much interested in a naturally aspirated 6 in this car… it’s not enough. It’s going to take turbocharging to be competitive the the Q50s performance, even though it will certianly weigh less by a couple of hundred pounds. Meanwhile, Infiniti needs an update… call it something along the lines of “Q50 Proto” .,

  6. Miatadon said:

    If Mazda wants to market something different than the rest, they should offer a small pickup truck. I have a ’91 B2600 extended cab that I bought brand new, and it has been a fantastic truck. If it is in an accident, I would be at a loss to find a new compact pickup anything like it to replace mine.

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