It’s no surprise that many of us love Mazda for its sporty and fun-to-drive cars. It’s a brand that, against all odds, is committed to offer what driving enthusiasts look for, even if it means only covering a niche segment of the market. This couldn’t be further from the truth when they announced in their 2019 fiscal year report that the brand from Hiroshima is going to build a series of inline-6 engines utilizing Skyactiv-X technologies.
In a nutshell, Skyactiv-X is Mazda’s latest engine technology that aims to reduce the fuel consumption of petrol engines down to the same level of diesel engines through Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SCCI) technology. Fitted with a supercharger, Skyactiv-X also claims to have 10-30% better engine response and a better torque and horsepower curve. The company is already in the final stages of the engine’s development, which will soon make its debut in the all-new Mazda 3 in the form of an inline-4 layout, but this is the first time that the company has announced it will expand Skyactiv-X to include an inline-6 as well. Additionally, Mazda has announced plans on creating a diesel inline-6 engine.
As the brand continues its goal to reach a premium status, Mazda will use these engines in what they say is a “large architecture” presumably in the next generation Mazda 6 or CX-9. Interestingly, the engine will be mounted longitudinally, which means this might be a sporty RWD platform with the option for AWD.
Over the past few years, a long inline-6 engines have declined in popularity due to packaging constraints compared to a compact V6 engine. Now though, it seems these engines are making a comeback. When the engine is finally released, presumably around 2020-2025, Mazda will be sitting alongside BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar-Land Rover as the only few manufacturers in the world that offer an inline-6 engine. It was only until a year ago when Mercedes-Benz brought back the inline-6 engine when they released the third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS.
This move is unlike what Toyota, a company with a significantly higher R&D budget than Mazda, has done with its all-new (A90) Supra. While Toyota’s new sports car uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 petrol engine, it is actually sourced from BMW, because Toyota says that the R&D cost for an inline-6 would be too high for what is essentially an engine they could only fit in a low-volume selling sports car. The Supra itself is also a collaboration between Toyota and BMW, as it shares the same basic components with the all-new Z4. For a company with a significantly lower R&D budget, Mazda is going against all odds to build a series of inline-6 petrol and diesel engines.
While it is certainly clear at this point that Mazda is committed to improving the internal combustion engine to its most efficient potential, the future it seems is still towards electric vehicles (EVs). Mazda announced that they will also produce EVs, plug-in hybrids, as well as mild-hybrids.