Mazda has inline-six petrol and diesel engines set to debut in the next two years, though it has yet to confirm what they’ll go into.

    In a second quarter financial results presentation for fiscal year 2021, Mazda shared an image of one of the new inline-six engines in a section of the slideshow called “Foundation building (next 2 years)”.

    They’ll be available with all-wheel drive and both 48V mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology.

    The company had initially announced the new longitudinally-mounted engines in a similar way, including them in a financial results presentation back in 2019 and referring to them as the Straight-Six Skyactiv-X and Skyactiv-D.

    The company announced back then they would be used in a new platform architecture called Large Architecture.

    While front-wheel drive cars with inline-six engines aren’t unheard of – take the Holden Epica, for example, or the Austin Tasman and Kimberley – all signs seem to point to Large Architecture being a rear-wheel drive platform.

    That gives credence to rumours it’ll underpin the next-generation Mazda 6 and CX-5, the latter of which could debut as soon as next year. Other rumours have pointed to Toyota and Lexus using the new Mazda platform for models such as the next-generation Lexus IS.

    Toyota has a five per cent stake in Mazda and the two companies are closely collaborating. Together, they’ll open a new factory in Alabama in the next couple of years that’ll produce an unspecified Toyota SUV and Mazda SUV, the latter of which will borrow Toyota’s hybrid technology.

    Mazda will also sell a car in Europe based on the Yaris. That’s somewhat of a reversal for Mazda, as it was Toyota who sold a restyled version of its 2 in the North American market.

    The company has more premium aspirations, as evidenced by recent price increases in Australia.

    Should the Large Architecture be rear-wheel drive and underpin the next-generation Mazda 6, it’ll be the first time Mazda’s sold a rear-wheel drive sedan since it discontinued the Sentia in 1999. That model was sold here as the 929 until 1997.

    The last rear-wheel drive Mazda SUV, meanwhile, was the 1991-94 Navajo, a rebadged Ford Explorer for North America.

    The introduction of a new inline-six engine has become a surprisingly common occurrence lately.

    After almost dying out, the inline six has enjoyed a renaissance due largely to the ease with which it can share parts with an inline four. Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium modular engine family, for example, consists of inline three-, four- and six-cylinder engines.

    Mercedes-Benz, too, manufactures inline six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, while a straight-six diesel engine can also be found in General Motors’ largest pickup trucks and SUVs including the Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Silverado.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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