Let's Talk About Six: Mazda Confirms New Inline Engine in Development

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
lets talk about six mazda confirms new inline engine in development

Much of the news surrounding Mazda this past year has concerned powerplants: a new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-banger for the CX-5 crossover and 6 sedan, a sort-of sparkless Skyactiv-X mill that still doesn’t have a North American arrival date, a lackluster diesel that took its sweet time getting here, and the brand’s continued lack of electric offerings.

The engine news continues. Buried within this week’s fiscal year earnings report is a hint of two new engines to come — inline-six engines. For a brand eager to position itself as premium, the development of a mill widely regarded as the classiest engine type reflects well on it.

It looks like Jalopnik was first to delve into the center of the document, so credit where it’s due.

On page 25 of the 57-page doc, Mazda details its investments for “brand value improvement.” There, beneath the subheading of “large architecture,” the automaker lists a straight-six Skyactiv-X engine and a straight-six Skyactiv-D diesel engine, both with longitudinal layouts and ability to handle all-wheel drive applications.

A 48-volt mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid are also listed as future large vehicle offerings, while mild hybrids and independently-developed EVs are in the cards for the smaller crowd.

Anyone who’s watched the European auto scene over the past few years has no doubt noticed a resurgence in inline-six interest. BMW never got rid of its inline units, and now Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar Land Rover are getting into the game. Why not Mazda? The company isn’t exactly awash in larger-displacement engines.

The document doesn’t state when we can expect to see either of these new inline engines, though the Skyactiv-X designation implies power and fuel economy at least on par with the most advanced offerings from Europe. We expect to see it offered in an America-geared global crossover slated for production in 2021 at the jointly-operated Mazda/Toyota Alabama assembly plant. (The plant is not yet built.)

As stated before, Skyactiv-X offers drivers a different way to light their fire. Its nearly diesel-like compression ratio is the product of a unique combustion process.

From Mazda:

Running on regular gasoline, SPCCI works by compressing the fuel-air mix at a much higher compression ratio, with a very lean mix. The SKYACTIV-X engine uses a spark to ignite only a small, dense amount of the fuel-air mix in the cylinder. This raises the temperature and pressure so that the remaining fuel-air mix ignites under pressure (like a diesel), burning faster and more completely than in conventional engines.

Besides the engine news, Mazda’s earnings report shows a sales softening. Globally, the brand’s sales sank 4 percent, the result of weakness in the U.S. and Chinese markets. On the fiscal side of things, lowered sales volume and unfavorable exchange rates pushed operating profit down 43 percent for the year.

The company expects to make up for last year’s volume loss with this year’s release of the next-generation Mazda 3 and the tweener CX-30 crossover.

[Images: © Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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  • Lastwgn Lastwgn on May 10, 2019

    Wouldn't it be interesting if the inline six is dropped into an updated Mazda pickup for the North American market? That could complete a fully rounded out product lineup.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on May 10, 2019

    "That's a neat car she's washing. You think that's a straight six?"

  • Make_light I drive a 2015 A4 and had one of these as a loaner once. It was a huge disappointment (and I would have considered purchasing one as my next car--I'm something of a small crossover apologist). The engine sounded insanely coarse and unrefined (to the point that I wasn't sure if it was poor insulation or there was something wrong with my loaner). The seats, interior materials, and NVH were a huge downgrade compared to my dated A4. I get that they are a completely different class of car, but the contrast struck me. The Q3 just didn't feel like a luxury vehicle at all. Friends of mine drive a Tiguan and I can't think of one way in which the Q3 feels worth the extra cost. My mom's CX-5 is better than either in every conceivable way.
  • Arthur Dailey Personally I prefer a 1970s velour interior to the leather interior. And also prefer the instrument panel and steering wheel introduced later in the Mark series to the ones in the photograph. I have never seen a Mark III or IV with a 'centre console'. Was that even an option for the Mark IV? Rather than bucket seats they had the exceptional and sorely missed 60/40 front seating. The most comfortable seats of all for a man of a 'certain size'. In retrospect this may mark the point when Cadillac lost it mojo. Through the early to mid/late 70's Lincoln surpassed Cadillac in 'prestige/pride of place'. Then the 'imports' took over in the 1980s with the rise of the 'yuppies'.
  • Arthur Dailey Really enjoying this series and the author's writing style. My love of PLC's is well known. And my dream stated many times would be to 'resto mod' a Pucci edition Mark IV. I did have a '78 T-Bird, acquired brand new. Preferred the looks of the T-Bird of this generation to the Cougar. Hideaway headlights, the T-Birds roof treatment and grille. Mine had the 400 cid engine. Please what is with the engine displacements listed in the article? I am Canada and still prefer using cubic inches when referencing any domestic vehicles manufactured in the 20th century. As for my T-Bird the engine and transmission were reliable. Not so much some of the other mechanical components. Alternator, starter, carburetor. The vehicle refused to start multiple times, usually during the coldest nights/days or in the most out of the way spots. My friends were sure that it was trying to kill me. Otherwise a really nice, quiet, 'floaty' ride, with easy 'one finger' steering and excellent 60/40 split front seat. One of these with modern mechanicals/components would be a most excellent highway cruiser.
  • FreedMike Maybe they should buy Twitter now.
  • FreedMike A lot of what people are calling "turbo lag" may actually be the transmission. In this case, Audi used a standard automatic in this application versus the DSG, and that makes a big difference. The pre-2022 VW Arteon had the same issue - plenty of HP, but the transmission held it back. If Audi had used the DSG, this would be a substantially quicker, more engaging car. In any case, I don't get these "entry lux" compact CUVs (think: Cadillac XT4, Lexus NX, BMW X1, etc). If you must have a compact CUV, I can think of far better options for a lot less money. And, no, the Tiguan isn't one of them - it has the Miller-cycle 2.0T, so it's a dog. But a Mazda CX-30 with the 2.5T would fit the bill.