Mazda readies new Mazda6 for late summer arrival

The 2009 Mazda 6 is the companyís third vehicle designed specifically for North American customers.
Mazdaís redesigned Mazda6 -- larger and with more power than versions of the car sold in other markets -- goes on sale late this summer.

The changes make the 2009 Mazda6 the companyís third vehicle designed specifically for North American customers, along with the CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers. Other markets will get their own version of the new Mazda6.

The North American Mazda6 has a larger interior and is bigger outside, has more powerful engines and carries specific styling touches. The grille and rear fascia are unique to the North American version, while the front and rear fender flares draw influence from the RX-8 sports car.

A more powerful engine range includes an all-new 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the 3.7-liter V6 from the CX-9. Power ratings havenít been released, but expect more than the 156 hp offered by the current 2.3-liter base engine.

The addition of the CX-9ís V6, rated at 273 hp and 270-lb-ft of torque in the crossover, helps the Mazda6 better combat the V6 offerings from segment leaders that include the the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.

The base four-cylinder engine is bolted to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 is offered with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.

The new carís platform carries over elements from the old car and borrows some tweaks implemented from the Ford Fusion platform -- which was spawned from the current Mazda6.

The 2009 Mazda6 will only be available as a sedan, unlike the current car, which offered five-door and wagon variants. The car will continue to be built at the Auto Alliance International plant in suburban Detroit, a joint venture with Ford Motor Co. that also builds the Mustang.

Ford controls a 34 percent stake in Mazda.

Expect base pricing to be similar to the current carís $19,625 price tag when it arrives in dealers at the end of August.

The redesigned car will give Mazda some firepower in the hotly contested mid-sized car segment.

The current Mazda 6 was the automakerís second-best selling nameplate in the United States last year, with 57,575 units sold. But that was down 13 percent from a year earlier as the current car neared the end of its lifecycle.

Through the first four months of this year, U.S. sales of the Mazda6 totaled 19,601 units, down 2.8 percent from the same period last year.

You can reach Jonathan Wong at jwong@crain.com

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