Mazda has used its third-quarter financial presentation to show its new straight-six engine, which is likely to be used by the next Mazda 6 saloon and estate.
The new six-cylinder unit, which was announced in 2019, is set to be offered “after 2022” and will be available in petrol, diesel and Skyactiv-X compression-ignition petrol guises.
Technical details for the engine are thin on the ground. All we know so far is that it will be installed longitudinally and mated to a four-wheel drive system, although possibly not exclusively the latter.
Its existence is significant, however, because earlier reports from Japan and the US have indicated that the replacement for the 6 – also expected to be shown in 2022 – will adopt this engine.
Those reports indicated that the model would be rear-wheel-drive, but it’s entirely possible that four-wheel-drive variants could also be offered.
If Mazda does intend to use such powertrains in the next 6, it would push the car’s positioning further upmarket – something Mazda had been trying to do with its smaller models, such as the 3.
Rivals for the 6 would therefore include everything from the BMW 3 Series to the Kia Stinger GT S.
Expect styling inspiration for the new 6 to be taken from cars such as the Vision Coupé concept, which was shown back in 2017 as a preview for the brand’s latest Kodo design language phase, first used on the 3.
However, there remains a question mark over the likelihood any successor to the 6 would be offered in the UK and Europe. The model is still popular in markets such as the US, but sales have slowly dwindled here as D-segment saloons from mainstream brands fall out of favour in the face of SUVs.
A Mazda UK spokesperson was unable to confirm or deny its position in the brand’s future European product plan.
Mazda has previewed the engine alongside a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an in-line-four engine. The latter will use 48V mild-hybrid technology and is likely to replace today’s four-cylinder unit in due course.
It remains to be seen which models will use the PHEV powertrain, but we expect it to be a priority for Europe in order to help Mazda reduce is fleet-average CO2 emissions.