For years, we car buyers and enthusiasts in the U.S. have mostly seen a single engine platform from Mazda. Whether it’s a 2.0-liter or a 2.5-liter, the SkyActiv-G engine powers the entire range (brief diesel stint notwithstanding). But, that may be about to change. The photo above made its way into the company’s third quarter financial results, showing the fully-built engine and its block. In the center, a four-cylinder plug-in hybrid powertrain also joins the lineup. Apart from its aims to move upmarket over the past few years, the company is starting to shift toward electrification, including mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids in the next few years. A fully-electric model, the MX-30, is already on sale in Japan and Europe.
Where is the inline-six heading?
Reports of the Mazda inline-six engine have been flying around since earlier this year. We expected the engine to emerge as part of the automaker’s new longitudinal platform, and that does seem to be heading to fruition. As for exactly which car we’ll see the six-cylinder powertrain in, that remains a relative mystery. However, the current consensus is for the engine to make its first appearance in the redesigned Mazda6. The company’s midsize sedan, which has been around since 2014, is due for a major update. What’s more, it provides a reasonable platform to stage an upmarket charge against the likes of BMW, for example — which also offers straight-six engines in its cars.
With a clearer picture on electrification, it’s likely we could see Mazda sell 48-volt mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions simultaneously. Thanks to the financial presentation, we also now have it on good authority that the six-cylinder engine will be coupled to the company’s i-Activ all-wheel drive system. “Larger products”, like the Mazda6 and CX-9, could see this engine under the hood by 2022, while the brand’s smaller cars will retain a four-cylinder layout.
Now, what Mazda did not mention with its new hardware is a sports car in which to use it. Those who are still holding out hope for an RX-9 or equivalent, I wouldn’t hold my breath at this point. Some will see that as good news, since the rotary engine is more or less a hallmark of the brand’s halo sports coupe. Things can always change, but we will have to wait and see how Mazda’s plan develops in the coming months. At least the Mazda3 Turbo has arrived, and you can check that out below: