Hallelujah! The on-again, off-again Mazda FR straight-six sports sedan might not be completely dead yet. A new report out of Japan says that Hiroshima might be proceeding with the project, which was slated to be the next Mazda 6. Last we heard, it had been shelved in favor of SUVs, but it looks like the SUVs might just be its savior.
According to Japan’s Best Car, development of FR6 is “currently underway”. The original plan (which we detailed in a previous article) was to debut the FR6 first. It was to introduce a new generation of “large platform” vehicles that would be RWD or FR-based AWD and utilize an inline-6, the most inherently balanced of all engine configurations. From then on, all new Mazdas except the Miata would be built on either the FF “small platform”, like the Mazda 3 or CX-30, or the large platform, like the FR6 and subsequent SUVs we now know as the CX-70 and CX-90.
But no one could have predicted how rapidly the industry would change, how quickly it would move away from sedans and embrace electrification. Mazda changed course and decided to prioritize large platform SUVs first. Then things changed even faster and the FR6 was shelved.
However, now Best Car says that the sedan might be on again, because the large-platform cars have been such a huge success. In Japan the CX-60 (a smaller version of what we’ll get as the CX-70 next year) is doing brisk sales, outpacing even the perennial favorite, the Mazda CX-5, which is globally Mazda’s best-selling model. It says the CX-90, the only large platform car to be released in North America so far, is also being received better than expected.
Best Car says that based on the success of the large platform cars, the FR6 is progressing. It will likely use the same drivetrain as the CX-90, which includes a 323-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-four PHEV and a turbocharged 340-horsepower 3.3-liter straight-six hybrid. The CX-90 is a fantastic handling SUV, but it’s still an SUV. If Mazda can make a giant 3-row SUV drive that well, imagine what the makers of the Miata will be able to do with a sports sedan.
The article also says that the FR6 likely won’t be introduced until 2025. If so, we beseech the car gods to please not change the industry any more in the next two years. Just let Mazda build the damn thing and give the internal combustion engine one last hurrah in a deserving platform before the curtain drops for good.