While every other carmaker has been aggressively downsizing engines over the last few years, Mazda is going the other way. Or as it likes to call it, “right-sizing”.
That’s why it makes a gasps 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine, a range of reasonably big, naturally-aspirated inline-four engines that compete with dinky turbo engines from other marques, and soon, an all-new inline-six.
Mazda is planning a bold push further up the market, which will involve a large-ish luxury saloon. A heavily boosted four-pot wouldn’t fit the right-sizing thing, so a big six it is. We’ve already seen patent images of the unit, and now, we’ve had our first proper look via Mazda’s Q3 financial presentation.
The longitudinal I6 appears alongside an inline-four of the same orientation, plus a new plug-in hybrid powertrain. The quality isn’t the best, since we’ve had to screengrab it from the presentation, but we’ve asked Mazda’s UK press office to see if it has a higher-quality image to send our way.
The slide notes that the inline-six will be available in conventional petrol and diesel guises, along with a spark-controlled compression ignition ‘SkyActiv-X’ derivative. The intended use for the engine is a range of predominantly rear-wheel drive cars described by Mazda as “large architecture,” although it’s rumoured that the engine may also make it into the long-awaited ‘RX-9’.
The presentation notes that Mazda will be in a “foundation building” stage with the project over the next two years, so it’ll be a little while before we see one of these in a production car. Beyond that rough timetable and confirmation of a regular petrol version (up until this point only diesel and SkyActiv-X derivatives have been mentioned), the Japanese firm still isn’t saying much about the powerplants.
What we do know is these big sixes won’t be making their way into any MazdaSpeed products, with the company essentially washing its hands of the mothballed sub-brand. “Right now we have no immediate plans to return the MazdaSpeed brand or line to our product offerings,” Mazda brand communications boss Drew Cary said, as reported by Motor Authority. He added, “As we focus more on moving into a more premium space that’s more mature and upscale, it’s just moving away from that MazdaSpeed branding.”