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LA show: Mazda6 MPS on ice

Not for now: While the original Mazda6 MPS (below) was a critical hit, it wasn’t a big seller globally and Mazda HQ has all but ruled out a sporty version of the freshly revealed model (left).

Despite new turbo petrol and upmarket move, Mazda6 MPS is not on the agenda

4 Dec 2017


MAZDA has confirmed that the Mazda6 facelift due in Australia in about July next year will not usher in an MPS high-performance flagship, even though the 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbo (2.5T) petrol set for the higher-grade GT and Atenza variants delivers what Mazda calls “torque on par with a 4.0-litre V8”.

According to Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi, nothing in the nature of the late and lamented Mazda6 MPS from 2005 to 2007 – which featured a 190kW/380Nm 2.3-litre direct-injection turbo and all-wheel-drive powertrain to take on the Subaru Liberty GT’s 184kW/389Nm 2.5-litre turbo boxer – is in the future-product pipeline.

“It is not in the planning,” he told Australian journalists at the Los Angeles motor show late last month. “This (2.5T) is not an MPS. It doesn’t take us a step closer to it either. An MPS is something that the Mazda Motor Corporation has said is not on the cards, certainly not right now. Mazda Australia has always desired one of those, but it’s not available.”

It is understood that while all-wheel drive is offered with the Mazda6 in other markets such as Japan, its implementation within the passenger car body combined with the 2.5T is cost-prohibitive when volume forecasts are factored in.

While it was a critical success, the original (and still only) MPS never sold close to expectations globally.

This may change if the coming Mazda6 turbo variants fire in key markets such as in North America, as the company attempts to broaden the appeal of the range with a palpably higher-quality offering, as well as a higher pricetag to match (see separate story).

Unveiled at the Paris motor show in September 2004, the GG-series Mazda6 MPS landed in Australia within a year, starting at $48,600. It undercut the Liberty GT by around $4000, as well as Mazda’s then true flagship offering, the RX-8 (from about $55,000).

The only performance -focused offerings in the mainstream mid-size passenger car segment include Skoda’s spicy Octavia RS, and the Subaru Levorg and 3.6-litre Liberty. Holden will give the segment a sportier flavour early next year when its new-generation ZB Commodore lands, offered in VXR all-wheel-drive V6 guise as the model’s flagship variant.

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