Mazda Says "Deuces" To V6 Engines, Welcomes Rotaries Back Into The Fold

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
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Mazda is saying “peace out” to their V6 engines. The party line is that they don’t really fit with the companies new philosophy, and the SkyACTIV portfolio. Instead, the company is drumming up a few alternatives.

The V6 engines used in the Mazda6 and CX-9 were fine, but nobody will shed a tear over their demise. According to a Car and Driver interview with Mazda USA Senior VP Robert Davis, the new Mazda6 will use SkyACTIV 4-cylinder engines only (hopefully the SkyACTIV-D diesel will be offered – a hybrid is rumored as well), while the next-generation CX-9 will apparently use some kind of 4-cylinder with forced induction.

In more performance oriented news, Mazda is working on not one but two new rotary engines. A new, more efficient, more powerful rotary engine as well as a rotary designed to be used as a range extender for an electric vehicle. The light weight of the rotary would be a plus for this application, while the lack of torque would be rendered moot by the electric motor.

And finally, news of the next MX-5 remains the same. It will be lighter and follow the same principles as SkyACTIV; less mass, more efficiency. And Davis hinted that there would be some more radical special editions in the spirit of the MX-5 Spyder or MX-5 Super 20.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Darkhorse Darkhorse on Apr 18, 2012

    I predict that during Obama's second term that the diktat will go out that all personal cars must weigh less than 3,000 lbs. and must have an engine no larger than 2.0 litres. Mazda will then become the best selling brand in the USA.

  • Terry Terry on Apr 18, 2012

    "Agreed. “SKYACTIV” has nothing to do with the sky, or activity. It’s an engine whose performance and mpg are similar to a Hyundai 2.0L." Like Pavlov's dog, right on cue. "As I recall, a rotary has three torque peaks, making for unusual driving characteristics. You have to beat a rotary pretty hard to get reasonable performance out of it." Totally clueless..AGAIN! GSLippy--keep 'em coming--the other techs in my service department LOVE your posts!!

  • Stevelovescars Stevelovescars on Apr 18, 2012

    I understand the theory behind turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and the promise that they can deliver V6 or even V8 power with the fuel-economy of a 4. However, in practice has this ever really been the case had it? I owned a couple of Saabs over the years. The turbo 4 was a great engine, torquey, smooth, top-gear acceleration to die for... but it never even gave me 4-cylinder fuel economy... in fact, in a 9-5 it averaged about 19 mpg around town and maybe mid 20's on the freeway. I got nearly the identical fuel-economy from my BMW 525iTand, well, if you want to talk smooth, the I6 reigns in my book. The BMW was also a lot heavier than the Saab. Similarly, the Chevy Cruze 1.4 Turbo appears to be a good engine but the fuel-economy isn't really any better than a new Focus with a normally aspirated 2.0 liter engine. The Eco can sound impressive, but the highest numbers come mostly from the ultra-high gearing on the manual transmission version. It seems to me that the biggest contributor to fuel-economy around town is simply the amount of mass you're hauling around. On the freeway, it's drag (Cd and frontal area) and the gearing... or how fast the engine is turning to maintain a normal speed. In the case of the Cruze, the freeway gearing on the manual is very tall, thus the drastic difference in economy between the stick and the auto even though both share the rest of the weight and aero details. So, my Saab 9-5 was a fairly heavy car so I likely would have had the same fuel-economy whether I had the 4 or 6 cylinder engine. I also had a Chevy S10 with a V6 (a crap one at that) and later had another with the 4. Both had manual transmissions and the same extended cab configuration. Despite the lower weight of the 4, I actually got better fuel economy from the six. Why? I think it's because I had to drive the 4 like I stole it just to keep up with traffic and the six could lazily pull the weight around. So, would a well-designed direct-injection 6 with a good tranny really do any worse in terms of fuel economy than a similar 4 cylinder if everything else on the car (size, weight, aero) were the same? How much do the frictional losses from 2 fewer cylinders really count if a larger engine can spin at lower rpms to do the same job?

    • Yes_but_maybe Yes_but_maybe on Apr 19, 2012

      There's a guy on here with a 9-5 who talks often of mileage in the mid to high 30s. Mid 20s is quite low for the 4 cylinder. I would often get 30-31 on my 9-5 with the V-6 on the highway. The 2009 9-5 was rated 27 highway on the new EPA cycle. I can tell you though...the way you drive a car with a turbo engine makes a bigger difference in MPG than a car with a normally aspirated engine.

  • Righteousball Righteousball on Apr 19, 2012

    But Skyactiv's whole reason of existence (as an umbrella marketing term) is merely to tide Mazda over until they can do hybrid/electric/something else that they have to play desperate catch-up to right now. There's no real merit in talking about it like it's a rival technology to these things; it's a desperate fight for life. As for using turbo 4-pots instead of V6, isn't that simply because they're going to lose access to Ford's V6s and can't spend on their own? :P