At this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, Mazda showed off its refreshed Mazda6. The midsize family sedan gets a few exterior tweaks, a new premium trim level, and an optional turbocharged engine. It’s a welcome update to what was already an excellent car, but with the new engine making 310 lb-ft of torque, we had to wonder if all-wheel drive would have been a better choice than the Mazda6’s current front-wheel-drive setup. Turns out that’s not an option with the current car, but it may be with the next generation.
Speaking to Australia’s CarAdvice, Masahiro Moro, Mazda’s North American president and CEO, said all-wheel drive won’t fit in the current Mazda6. “I think we are not able to combine four-wheel drive and the 2.5-liter turbo. We have a layout issue with the sedans. That’s why a four-wheel drive isn’t deployed on the Mazda3 and 6 so far,” he said.
Still, Mazda recognizes that if it wants to move upmarket and become a viable alternative other entry-level luxury cars, it needs to offer all-wheel drive in its sedans. “But there is a huge demand, at least what I know is that in the East Coast of the U.S., 80 or 90 percent of premium sedans are sold with all-wheel drive,” he continued. “Four-wheel drive becomes a premium cue for U.S. consumers, and obviously I have asked our R & department to think about how we can accommodate four-wheel drive capability in the future.”
That’s not exactly confirmation that the next-generation Mazda6 and Mazda3 will get all-wheel drive, but it’s pretty darn close. Plus, with AWD on the table, it opens up the possibility of higher-performance models returning to the Mazda lineup. Mazdaspeed3, anyone?