A new inline-six is on the way, but it could be the last.
Mazda has found itself in a strange position over the last several years. The brand's extensive use of small, efficient, four-cylinder engines means it can certainly afford not to lean as hard into EVs as other brands have over the last few years. Rumors about Mazda's rotary-powered future continue to circulate, and the brand has been developing an extremely versatile inline-six over the last several years. By all accounts, it appears Mazda is in no EV hurry simply because it does not need to be.
However, that could all be changing. Recently, we got a look at the Europe-only CX-60 SUV, powered by the same inline-six we just mentioned. That engine family will arrive stateside in the Mazda CX-70 in 2023. But now, Joachim Kunz, senior manager of technical development at the Mazda Europe R&D center, has said that the brand's latest generation of internal combustion engines (ICE) is likely going to be the last.
Speaking to Automotive News Europe Kunz said, "This will be most likely be the last generation of internal combustion engines." \That was specifically in reference to the diesel six-pot. The good news for gasoline Mazda fans is that the brand has left itself some headroom on the new inline-six.
Kunz doesn't specifically reference a US-spec motor, but he does say that the engine is built to accommodate far more strict emissions regulations than those around today. Mazda did that by making the engine larger than other diesel motors on the market, with the engine pushing 3.3 liters. "To get low NOx emissions we need low combustion temperatures, having a bigger engine keeps temperatures lower, which is good both for reducing the heat loss and for cutting the raw NOx emissions," says Kunz.
Obviously, that doesn't bode well for the rotary, which will really only be used as a range-extender for an EV anyway. Mazda has applied for several trademarks in Japan relating to a rotary powerplant, but that could just be the brand covering its tailpipes. We'd say this doesn't bode well for the Mazda Miata, but Mazda has already confirmed that'll be sticking around for a very long time.
The good news is that the straight-six is an incredibly adaptable engine fit for rear-biased platforms. In addition to running on diesel, Mazda has implemented mild-hybrid power into the motor, and a twin-charged variant could still be in the cards.
Right now, it's tough to tell where the chips will fall for Mazda. The brand does have some EVs hanging around, but that doesn't necessarily mean that production for its gas-powered cars will be stopping tomorrow.