Mazda’s secret sales weapon

TARGET COMMODORE

TOBY HAGON

Japanese plan new V6 model to capture some large-car action

MAZDA is plotting a 200kW-plus V6-powered sports-luxury version of its mid-size 6 to fill part of the void left when the Holden Commodore switches from an Australian large car to an imported mid-sizer.

The pumped-up 6 is part of a secret long-term plan by Mazda to appeal to the thousands of buyers still flocking to the flagging Holden large car. It would be one of a new breed of Commodore-fighters aiming for what is still a sizeable slice of the market (see breakout).

Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders admits that the company is looking at options to tackle the once dominant Falcon/Commodore market. “It’s an option we’d like to discuss,” Benders told Wheels.

“We’re certainly arguing that, but it’s a matter of whether we can convince [Mazda Japan] of the business case.”

Benders said the ideal strategy would be to continue with entrylevel four-cylinder models but include more powerful engines to “take people up through the grades with better engines and better driving experiences”.

The Commodore is still a dominant car in Australia, selling more than 25,000 units in 2016, putting it 6th overall in the sales charts, prompting Mazda Australia’s exploration of morepowerful engines.

“I’m just wondering where those people are going to go to; those customers who buy the betterperforming engines in those sort of cars,” Benders told us.

The challenge for Mazda is how to power a car planned to straddle the gap between mid-size mainstream models and entrylevel luxury sedans.

Engineers are already working on a new-generation V6, citing upcoming changes to emissions legislation in Europe, where the focus will switch from a laboratory-derived fuel figure to something more representative of real-world driving.

Mazda R&D chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara said tighter emissions regulations will almost certainly mean a V6 is likely to form part of a future powertrain strategy focused on efficiency and performance. As with recent Mazda engines, the focus would be on torque and driveability rather than peak power numbers, so expect something in excess of 400Nm while still punching out upwards of 200kW.

“Bigger displacement is much better for future severe real-world emissions systems,” said Fujiwara, naming capacities as large as 3.0- 4.0-litres as possibilities for some models. “Large cylinder is much [more] suited for future technology … [a] turbocharger can be replaced with V6 engines. Therefore a turbocharger system is less important … for future technology.”

Wheels understands Mazda is well advanced in developing the new-generation V6, though it’s unlikely to arrive until the nextgeneration 6, due about 2019 or 2020, due to the engineering challenges of installing it in the current SkyActiv architecture.

Fujiwara said it was all part of a plan to improve real-world economy as part of the ‘SkyActiv 2’ strategy, which could introduce new fuel-saving technologies such as variable compression ratios.

He said future engine developments were “turning again to a different direction” and that for some applications a six-cylinder engine could make more sense.

“Real-world fuel economy is most important for us,” he said.

“A turbo is less important for future fuel-saving technology” – Mazda R&D chief

OTHERS AIMING TO GET A FOOT IN THE ’DORE

Dodge Charger

Speaking to Australian journalists at the LA Auto Show, recently appoi nted FCA Australia chief executive Steve Zanlunghi said he believed the demise of the locally made Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore could holes in the Australian market. ould leave cheap performance car rket.

FCA Australia FCA Australia see the next-gen Challenger and Charger as a perfect fit. n

Kia GT

Due late in 2017, four-door ‘coupe’ will start from about $ 40,000 and get the option of a 270kW twin-Rear-drive configuration 7, the on 3.3-litre turbo V6. will keep the enthusiasts happy, ppy, enthusiasts happy, while Kia’s valuefor- money play is expected to ensure decent value. ppy, e

Subaru Liberty

Subaru’s likely appear on list of those considering the offering has mid-size sedan will also the shopping se 2018 Commodore. The Japanese as decent size on its side, an n impressive size its side, an spec sheet, some mild performance variants, making it viable option. n impressive t, and d nce a ion.

Toyota Camry

A continued seller, Toyota be a more competitor ever before both offering front- drive, four-cylinder ed best-the Camry will direct or to the Commodore than with ring d rive, der variants.

However, cylinder der variants.

However, source suggest Toyota ditch the name and a V6 Camry instead. our oyota will Aurion d offer ry