Mazda moving upmarket with straight-six engine, RWD platform

By Jason Woosey Time of article published May 10, 2019

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Hiroshima, Japan - Mazda is looking set for a big push upmarket, perhaps even competing with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, and the Japanese carmaker's plan of action is something we can get excited about.

Inconspicuously hidden on the 25th page of its financial results presentation from March 2019, as first spotted by Jalopnik, is an outline of the brand’s future product plans, and the most intriguing of these is the introduction of a new ‘Large Architecture’ for premium vehicles powered by straight-six petrol and diesel engines.

Until recently the straight six engine layout was abandoned by all but BMW, but now carmakers are cottoning on to the fact that this type of engine can be cost-effectively produced on a modular engine assembly line alongside a technologically similar four-cylinder unit with the same bore and stroke.

As an extra bonus, as many an enthusiast would argue, a straight-six simply sounds better than a V6.

Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar have recently announced new straight-six motors and Mazda looks in line to be next, and it has an efficiency ace up its sleeve too. According to the document, the petrol version will have Mazda’s innovative ‘Skyactiv X’ combustion technology, which is the world’s first application of diesel-like compression ignition in a petrol motor.

The document also-reveals that the new ‘Large Architecture’ is in fact a rear-wheel-drive platform, as the engines are mounted longitudinally. It mentions an all-wheel-drive system too, but it’s not clear whether this will be standard or simply fitted to the top models.

It’s not clear how many vehicles will be built on this platform, but at the very least we would expect a large sedan, perhaps even replacing the current Mazda6, and given the surging popularity of SUVs we’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least a related crossover or two.

Either way, the new premium models won’t come cheap as page 24 of the Mazda financial document reveals that Mazda plans to forge its way into higher price brackets.

Without a solid alliance partner to share its platforms and technologies with, Mazda has been seen as vulnerable going forward, but perhaps this push upscale to more profitable segments is the much-respected Japanese brand’s best hope of survival.

An electric car push is also part of the plan, with a dedicated EV platform being part of the small car plan outlined in the document. Mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids are also on the cards, the latter applying to the large car platform.

IOL Motoring

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