Mazda’s upcoming inline-6 engine that will power a future rear-wheel drive (RWD) passenger car and crossover SUV has made a lot of car enthusiasts excited for the brand’s upcoming products. The last time we heard an update about this development was in early 2019. So consider us excited when the Japanese automaker used its second-quarter 2020 financial report as an opportunity to unveil its upcoming range of inline-6 engines.
Not a lot of automakers are using inline-6 engines these days, with the most notable examples being BMW and just recently, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover. Mazda’s decision to create a “high power/low CO2” inline-6 engine range that still aims to offer driving pleasure at its core is sure to keep us excited with Mazda’s upcoming RWD car and SUV.
As to what these vehicles could be? We still aren’t sure what they would be called, but one of those new cars is definitely going to be the next-generation Mazda 6. The move to an RWD platform is a radical departure to past Mazda 6 models, which were always front-wheel drive (FWD) with optional all-wheel drive (AWD) depending on the market and variant.
Mazda says this upcoming inline-6 engine will be available in gasoline, diesel, and its revolutionary Skyactiv-X gasoline engine that uses spark controlled compression ignition (SCCI). In a quest to further reduce its overall CO2 emissions, these engines will feature electrification technologies, including a 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
The financial report also included news about an upcoming crossover SUV to be produced at the soon-to-be-completed Mazda Toyota manufacturing plant in Alabama. This new vehicle will have an annual production run of 150,000 units and is in line with Mazda’s goal to achieve 450,000 vehicle sales in North America.
With Mazda having formed an alliance with Toyota in August 2017, the partnership between the two brands goes even deeper than just having a new manufacturing plant. Mazda’s upcoming SUV will feature a hybrid powertrain developed by Toyota. In addition, Mazda will launch a new hybrid model in Europe based on the Japanese- and European-market Toyota Yaris. This could mean that the Mazda 2 will now be a rebadged Toyota Yaris, at least in Europe.
In the long term, Mazda will embrace electric vehicles (EV) through the creation of a dedicated platform for EVs. While the Mazda MX-30 is the automaker’s first pure EV, its platform is still based on the CX-30’s. A dedicated EV platform would mean better interior packaging and improved driving performance.
Globally, Mazda’s sales are down 21 percent due to the pandemic, which resulted in an operating loss of ¥52.9 billion ($501.8 million). This is why Mazda is aiming to reduce its fixed costs and strengthen its alliances with other automakers. At the same time, with the expected sales recovery happening in one or two years from now, Mazda’s upcoming inline-6 engine and RWD cars aim to increase its brand value thanks to these cars being distinct from its traditional competitors.
On the upside, Mazda’s sales in North America are on its way to recovery. Year-to-date sales as of October 2020 are down by just 0.7 percent, which has been definitely helped by the all-new CX-30 along with its best-seller, the CX-5.