The Mazda6 hatch, the best-selling variant of the medium car in Australia, faces the axe for the next-generation model expected in 2013.
Mazda Australia says it is still in discussions with Japan about the full line-up of the new Mazda6, though the chief designer of the Takeri concept (pictured below) that previews the car revealed at the 2011 Tokyo motor show says that only sedan and wagon versions of the mid-sizer have been created.
“Actually we are dropping the idea of a hatch [for Mazda6],” said Akira Tamatani, when talking about the next-generation Mazda6 body styles. “With the [new] sedan we can achieve same sporty expression we achieved with [current] hatch.
“With the sedan we have a very sporty design so based on that the wagon model will express similar sportiness. Of course we must protect practicality of wagon.
“If you look at the competitors, the Mazda6 wagon looks very sporty compared to them.”
Tamatani-san acknowledges that the UK and Australian markets both have a high mix of hatch sales with the Mazda6 but that while there is a risk of losing sales that customer research in the countries suggest buyers don’t actually need the more practical access to rear cargo space.
“We communicated with [customer] clinics in the UK and Australia,” says Tamatani-san, “and we found that users of hatch are using function of the 'liftgate' only once a year [to load larger items a boot couldn’t accommodate.
“We have ideas for another type of vehicle [to fill the hatch void]. That study is an option to undertake.
“Feasibility of that [going into production] will depend on the business market environment.
Mazda Australia says the new vehicle style is an alternative for them but wouldn’t elaborate on whether this would be crossover-style model.
The loss of the hatch (pictured above) would be a blow to Mazda Australia. The variant accounts for the majority of 6 sales locally.
The Mazda6 has already been overtaken by the Ford Mondeo in local medium-car sales. Ford dropped a sedan variant of the Mondeo to concentrate on the hatchback and wagon models.
The local subsidiary, however, says it hasn’t given up on having a hatch version of the all-new Mazda6.
“In terms of the new 6 there are still a few balls up in the air,” says Mazda Australia spokesman Steve Maciver. “Nothing is signed off. The [new] car is still a while away and a lot of things are on the table in terms of [available] body styles.”
Maciver said that discussions with Japan HQ are always on-going in terms of future product, but admitted the decision on the Mazda6’s body style line-up would be determined on a global level.
What is known is that the next-generation Mazda6 sedan will be larger than the current model as it switches from two to one body size globally and with a need to cater for the US and Chinese markets that prefer bigger cars.
Tamatani-san says the Takeri concept’s dimensions and packaging will be reflected in the next-generation Mazda6.
The sedan will be longer in both length and wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) and offer more rear-seat legroom, though the European-focused wagon will be slightly shorter than the current Mazda6 wagon and feature a wheelbase about 50mm shorter than the sedan’s.
Mazda says the wagon needed to balance passenger space and cargo space for the European market.
Tamatani-san also says the next-generation Mazda6 will share much of the Takeri concept’s styling cues – which are based on Mazda’s new Kodo design language that will spread across its vehicle range.
“Well although I cannot be specific … I believe we are at a stage that we can be confident of reproducing a similar image [of the Takeri concept] in the next-generation [Mazda6] vehicle.”
The new Mazda6 will share its platform with the CX-5 compact SUV that launches in 2012, though the Takeri is 30mm wider with a wheelbase that’s about 28-30mm longer.
Mazda has also confirmed the new Mazda6 will feature new technologies debuted in the Takeri – the Japanese word for masculine – such as the i-Eloop regenerative braking system.