Any Takers? Docs Herald Mazda 6 Diesel Introduction

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The road to America is often a long one, and the 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder that finally set up shop in the Mazda CX-5 last year took a Donner Party-like detour after leaving Japan.

The Skyactiv-D engine was over half a decade late in arriving on these shores, and when it finally did — cleared by the EPA after certain modifications — journalists were underwhelmed by its power and economy. Now, it’s the midsize Mazda 6’s turn to try ditching gasoline. Will anyone be in line to greet it?

Its chances would have been more favorable had the engine appeared on time. Back when passenger cars still outranked SUVs/crossovers in terms of sales and the Volkswagen Passat TDI Sport was a hot and illegally efficient midsize entry.

It’s no secret that Mazda still intends to outfit the 6 with compression ignition, but a California Air Resources Board certification document filed at the end of January and uncovered by Autoblog shows its arrival is drawing close. Expect a launch later this year.

“Mazda has worked tirelessly with federal and state agencies to ensure that this diesel engine has passed each and every regulation,” Jeff Guyton, president of Mazda North American Operations, said during the CX-5 diesel’s New York unveiling last spring.

In that application, the Skyactiv-D — mated to a six-speed automatic — makes 168 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque; it’s expected the diesel 6 will see similar output, though the all-wheel drive promised by Guyton in 2019 isn’t confirmed for 2021 (or for a mid-year launch, which Mazda seems fond of). In the years following the 2.2L’s initial delay, Mazda saw fit to outfit the 6 and CX-5 with more power, offering a turbocharged 2.5-liter delivering 250 hp and 310 lb-ft on premium gasoline.

The CX-5’s sales continue to rise (the model now accounts for more than half of all Mazdas sold), but the addition of a new engine hasn’t helped the 6. Despite its refreshed exterior and cabin (which already looked sharp), inherent tossability, and optional turbo mill, 6 sales fell for a fourth consecutive year in 2019. While the arrival of all-wheel drive might change a few minds, the revamped Mazda 3 did not see its fortunes rise when it donned AWD for 2019. Quite the opposite, though other factors were at play with that model.

When the diesel 6 does arrive, Mazda may opt to follow the same course as the CX-5, which offered the engine as an option only on the top-flight Signature AWD trim. Then again, it might not, given that dealers seemed to have trouble moving them without steep discounts. In that model, the Skyactiv-D brought a $4k markup, placing the diesel CX-5’s after-destination price north of $42,000. Keep in mind we’re talking about a compact mainstream crossover here.

With more power offered by the turbo gas engine and fuel economy that, at least in the crossover, fell short of expectations, the diesel 6’s business case may be even more nonexistent than the oil-burning CX-5’s. Feel free to disagree.

[Image: Mazda]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
5 of 53 comments
  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Feb 12, 2020

    I honestly don't know what is going on at Mazda. Their fails are mounting. - Skyactiv-X needing a supercharger AND hybridization to hit its targets - Skyactiv-D just sucking in general - Generally poor packaging efficiency - Neutering the 3's dynamic prowess and then launching the CX-30 - Talking down on electrification and then showing the MX-30 - The MX-30's name Etc. They have all the pieces to actually make the premium push they want, and the partnerships to hit FE targets without all these whackadoodle holy grail powerplant moon shots. But we are where we are.

    • See 1 previous
    • R Henry R Henry on Feb 12, 2020

      Agreed. Mazda has been revealing itself as unable to compete in the US market. From where I sit, CX-5 is a winner, but Mazda marketing has been unable to leverage that very good product into larger success.

  • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Feb 12, 2020

    On my last trip to Europe I rented the infamous brown, diesel, manual wagon (Fiat Tipo). The power train was easily the worst part of the car. No torque until almost 2k rpm, then it runs out of breath 1000 rpm later and I need to shift. First gear is too short, second is too tall. Very awkward to crawl around town. If that car is at all representative of diesel in general or even diesels on that class of car, then I don't get it.

    • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Feb 12, 2020

      Fiat Tipo represents all modern diesels in as much as Dodge Charger Hellcat represents all modern gas vehicles. In as much as Smart ForFour EQ represents the best electric vehicles have to offer.

  • Calrson Fan Jeff - Agree with what you said. I think currently an EV pick-up could work in a commercial/fleet application. As someone on this site stated, w/current tech. battery vehicles just do not scale well. EBFlex - No one wanted to hate the Cyber Truck more than me but I can't ignore all the new technology and innovative thinking that went into it. There is a lot I like about it. GM, Ford & Ram should incorporate some it's design cues into their ICE trucks.
  • Michael S6 Very confusing if the move is permanent or temporary.
  • Jrhurren Worked in Detroit 18 years, live 20 minutes away. Ren Cen is a gem, but a very terrible design inside. I’m surprised GM stuck it out as long as they did there.
  • Carson D I thought that this was going to be a comparison of BFGoodrich's different truck tires.
  • Tassos Jong-iL North Korea is saving pokemon cards and amibos to buy GM in 10 years, we hope.