When Mazda unveiled the tech behind their highly efficient Skyactiv-X motor, we assumed they would stick to doing what they’ve been doing best as far as their motors have been the past decade – high-compression, naturally aspirated inline-fours.
Considering the whole Skyactiv tech is based around 4 cylinders of both diesel and petrol guise, of course the Skyactiv-X in the latest Mazda 3 would also come in the same layout. Recently however, following a perusal of Mazda’s 2019 March fiscal year report, it looks like the boffins at Hiroshima will be pretty busy developing a new motor as promised in their report: a straight-six version of the Skyactiv-X powerplant.
In Mazda's Fiscal Year report for March 2019, details of some future product plans for the company moving forward were listed. These include plans to expand on their stunning Kodo design language, developing a mild-hybrid system and its own electric vehicle technology, and – as if it weren’t such a big deal – a note at the end to develop a Skyactiv-X straight-six as well as a Skyactiv-D straight-six diesel. With all the details about the technicalities and inner workings of the Skyactiv-X powerplant, only now has there been official mention of Mazda’s plans to go beyond four cylinders with their newly developed motor.
Seeing as an inline-six may be a bit of a logistical nightmare to shove into an existing platform like the Mazda 3, we may likely see this on longer – possibly rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive – platforms such as the next-gen Mazda 6 or the CX-9. Mazda now joins European marques such as Mercedes, BMW, and Jaguar Land Rover who are still currently developing a straight-six motor for their respective vehicles.
A stalwart configuration and popular for a variety of cars a few decades back, straight-sixes have close to disappeared recently thanks to their cumbersome packaging versus a similar V6 powerplant. Now however, it looks like the straight-six is back – and we get to see Mazda’s take on keeping internal combustion going well into the next decade.