Mazda's upcoming inline-six, rear-wheel-drive platform detailed by suppliers

Ben Hsu
·2-min read

A report out of Japan has uncovered several details about Mazda's upcoming rear-wheel-drive cars powered by a new straight-six engine. In conversations with suppliers, the Nikkei has learned that production will begin in 2022, and that they will "produce about 300,000 units, or just less than 20% of Mazda's global sales, in the fiscal year ending March 2025."

Additionally, the report reveals that the eagerly awaited inline-six engine will have displacements of 3.0 to 3.3 liters, and will come in gasoline, diesel, and the novel sparkless combustion SkyActiv-X formats. We can probably assume that a turbocharged version will follow.

The first cars to be produced on this new platform will likely be SUVs. Originally intended to replace the CX-5 and CX-8 (a Japanese version of the CX-9 with smaller dimensions that conform to the country's road tax hierarchy), the Nikkei now says they will be sold alongside the existing models. So, perhaps a CX-50 if we follow the CX-30's naming convention.

These new cars will also be "priced significantly higher than existing models," but Mazda is seeking to cut costs by expanding its supplier base to non-Japanese firms.

The rest of the report is somewhat bleak but nothing we don't know already. The Mazda 3, despite being positively reviewed, has not sold well. Nor have cars equipped with the SkyActiv-X sparkless combustion motor, considered to be the holy grail of internal combustion engines. With a sales hit made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, sales are down 8% for the fiscal year ending in March 2021, and the company will take a $870 million hit when all the books are balanced.

Mazda's commitment to gratifying motoring experiences and superb handling remains a rarity in today's market. By building rear-drive, straight-six vehicles — considered by many to be the ideal layout for drivers' cars — Mazda is really leaning in to their automaking philosophy, and putting all its eggs in that basket as well.

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