What a throwback: Mazda reveals plans to make a straight 6 engine
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Mazda's latest shtick has been as a champion of preserving and elongating the lifespan of enthusiast technologies and, on a wider scale, the internal combustion engine.
Up until now the core of this movement of theirs has been the SkyActiv-X engine that's coming in the next-gen Mazda3 hatch and sedan. But now the Japanese car-maker might have a new poster child in the works — albeit, one with an electrified kick.
The company's March 2019 investor report came loaded with nuggets of info. It showed off Mazda's global sales for the 2018–’19 fiscal year (1,561,000 units), as well as a subsequent profit of NZ$1.1b. The report went on to predict a $1.4b profit for this coming year.
It also mentioned that there's two new inline six engines in development. One is a SkyActiv-D straight-six diesel, as well as (more to the point) a SkyActiv-X straight-six petrol.
There isn't much else known about the new tech, other than they will both utilise a longitudinal layout, and feature some form of hybrid system on the side — either a 48V mild hybrid system, or a plug-in hybrid system.
While those with fond memories of iconic inline sixes of the past from Nissan, Toyota, and Ford might be rubbing their hands together for some enthusiast-anchored lip service, but they'd be setting themselves up for disappointment. What we're actually seeing is a piece of Mazda's puzzle as they push to chase the luxury-car market. This much was confirmed in a statement from Mazda issued to American publication Jalopnik.
“We’re excited to bring these powertrains to our future vehicles as we continue on our path to premium," said the Mazda spokesperson.
"We know our fans will be yearning for additional details, however specific models, performance figures and market roll-out will be disclosed at an appropriate time.”
Mercedes are in the midst of developing a new mild hybrid inline six, Jaguar are doing something similar, and BMW of course are pressing on with inline sixes too (including the one that sides between the front wheels of the new Toyota Supras).
Adding fuel to the theory are scuttlebutt suggestions that these engines will likely appear in the production version of Mazda's wild, pictured, Vision Concept. It's expected that a watered down version of the popular swoopy sedan will be the likely replacement for the current Mazda6.
Taking the Mazda6 and making it a more exclusive, higher priced executive car could be the answer to decreasing sedan sales across the board. Perhaps something for the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A4 to worry about down the line?