It’s no secret the current Mazda 6 mid-size sedan and wagon range is nearing the end of its life, but we may finally have a clue about its successor – and it’s probably not what you were expecting.

    While rumours of a rear-drive Mazda 6 based on the company’s Large Architecture – the basis of the CX-60 and CX-90 SUVs – with inline six engines have been swirling for years, Mazda has ruled out a new 6 on the rear-drive Large Architecture, but has remained mum on the nameplate’s future at a global level.

    However, the recent Shanghai motor show saw the Japanese brand’s joint venture in China tease a pair of upcoming electrified vehicles in a product presentation, one of which could be a new Mazda 6.

    Changan Mazda presented the below roadmap at the Shanghai event, having revealed the CX-50 Hybrid for the Chinese market in the process which will draw upon Toyota hybrid technology. The two other vehicles appear to be sedans, and both plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric versions are confirmed for each.

    Sifting through China’s Weibo social network, there wasn’t much detail given on these upcoming electrified models other than that Changan Mazda is planning an electrified offensive in the coming years.

    Currently, Mazda only sells two sedans in the Chinese market – the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6. In terms of electrification, Changan Mazda only has the CX-30 EV, a locally-engineered model that effectively shoehorns a 162kW/300Nm electric motor and 61.1kWh battery pack under the CX-30‘s compact body – which looks a little odd with its jacked-up suspension and body kit to accommodate the extra components.

    It’s unclear whether these two new PHEVs and EVs from Changan Mazda will be based on existing models.

    Last year, Mazda detailed two upcoming vehicle architectures that will see 100 per cent of its global portfolio electrified to varying degrees, including a dedicated electric vehicle architecture.

    Between 2022 and 2025 Mazda will launch five hybrid, five plug-in hybrid, and three pure electric models or variants. These will be based on the SkyActiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture, which supports both front-wheel drive models with a traverse engine layout and rear-wheel drive cars with a longitudinal engine setup.

    Mazda’s electrified models are being developed primarily with Japan, Europe, the USA, China and ASEAN in mind. Some – perhaps all – of Mazda’s upcoming hybrids will use technology licensed from Toyota, and we’ve seen the CX-50 Hybrid become the first to take on this particular aspect.

    Additionally, the company will develop a new dedicated EV platform called the SkyActiv Scalable EV Architecture, which will debut some time between 2025 and 2030. It’s unclear how many vehicles are planned for the EV platform, with the company only confirming “several products” will be launched by the end of the decade.

    Given the mentions of PHEV and EV options, expect the new electrified sedans in China to be based on the SkyActiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture. Further, the global nature of this platform could mean these vehicles, or variations of them, could make their way into markets like Australia.

    The current third-generation Mazda 6 has been around since 2012, making the platform over a decade old.

    Previewed by the 2011 Mazda Takeri concept, the GJ-generation 6 was the second model in the brand’s line-up to feature Mazda’s suite of Skyactiv drivetrain and chassis technologies, and was the poster child for the company’s Kodo design language.

    A move to the upcoming SkyActiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture, which supports both front-wheel drive models with a transverse engine layout and rear-wheel drive cars with a longitudinal engine setup, is consistent with Mazda indicating a new 6 won’t be built on the Large Architecture that underpins the CX-60 and CX-90 SUVs, as well as the upcoming CX-70 and CX-80.

    That doesn’t rule out electrification or a rear-drive layout in the Mazda 6’s future should that be the case, but it means we may not see a new mid-size sedan and wagon with inline six power as many may have hoped.

    Despite its advancing age, Mazda has confirmed an updated range for 2023, headlined by a fancy 20th Anniversary edition.

    The anniversary special, officially dubbed the 2023 Mazda 6 20th Anniversary Edition, commemorates two decades and more than 144,000 sales of the Japanese brand’s flagship passenger car in Australia.

    Other changes include a revised Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre turbo petrol engine with a mild power bump and increased torque at just over 4000rpm, while the six-speed automatic has likewise been rejigged for better performance.

    The wider Mazda 6 line-up also picks up an updated power steering system, while up-spec GT SP and Atenza grades pick up the brand’s semi-autonomous Cruising and Traffic Support assist. Wireless Apple CarPlay is also now standard in Touring grades and up, albeit with the older MZD Connect infotainment system. Read more here.

    Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest

    MORE: Everything Mazda 6

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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