Mazda's latest earnings report came with a pleasant six-cylinder surprise.
The present day is a mixed bag for Mazda fans. On the one hand, the MX-5 Miata still exists, Mazda remains at least somewhat committed to furnishing cars with manual transmissions, the Mazda3 is available with turbo power, and the company has confirmed that it will be introducing a new Wankel rotary engine in the coming years. On the other hand, the number of Mazdas offering manual gearboxes has shrunk over the past years, the automaker is strangely opposed to bringing back its storied MazdaSpeed brand, and the rotary will be nothing more than a range extender for an EV. But there's a glimmer of hope in a new inline-six engine that Mazda confirmed back in 2019; and now, we finally have our first glimpse of the new motor that will feature in the next-generation Mazda 6 sedan.
Since the original announcement, the automaker has stayed relatively quiet on the matter, but recently, we got our first look as Mazda included a photo of several upcoming powertrain technologies in a presentation relating to its third-quarter financials, including the new six-cylinder, a new four-cylinder, and a plug-in hybrid system.
Mazda says the inline-6 will be available in gasoline, diesel, and Skyactiv-X forms, although the company is still stopping short of disclosing where the engine will be deployed. It'll likely feature in the next-gen Mazda 6 but could also feature in the CX-5 and the larger CX-9. The longitudinal mounting of the motor means RWD is in the cards, but the Mazda presentation only confirms the development of a new AWD system alongside the six-pot.
The presentation also alludes to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that will be used in the same 'large products' as the six-cylinder, suggesting the two could be mated. Development of these will take place over the next two years, as will a new production plant in the US, but we only expect to see the first models powered by this engine around 2023. In the US, the brand is targeting upwards of 450,000 units sold annually after 2022.
The presentation also provided further news with regards to Mazda's 'small product' - likely the CX-3, CX-30, Mazda 3 Hatchback, and Mazda 3 Sedan. For these models, we'll see "multiple electrification technologies using [a] rotary engine". This will, in all likelihood, follow the same configuration as the Mazda CX-30 EV's range-extending rotary. Still, we live in hope the development of the rotary will pave the way for a full revival of a rotary sports car. After all, we've already seen the concept car we want the engine in.