Mazda developing two straight-six engines

How does a rear-wheel drive, straight-six-powered Mazda sound?

While downsizing is the order of the day in the automotive industry, Mazda confirmed it's in the process of developing a pair of new straight-six engines to bolster its upmarket push. It joins the small but growing list of automakers that still believe in the straight-six configuration.

The Japanese firm quietly announced plans to develop a family of straight-six engines in a presentation titled Fiscal Year 2019 March Results posted on its investor website. Jalopnik first reported the news, and reached out to Mazda for confirmation. One of the slides in the presentation calls for the launch of a straight-six turbodiesel, and a straight-six version of the compression-ignition SkyActiv-X four-cylinder engine that will power the 3.

We'll cut to the chase: we don't have technical details such as horsepower and torque outputs, and we don't know which models the sixes will power. The next-generation 6 should get the six, but nothing is official yet. Mazda's presentation reveals only that both engines will be mounted longitudinally, meaning they will send power to the rear wheels in their default configuration. All-wheel drive will be available, too.

The sixes will be available with an electric boost. The automaker listed a 48-volt mild hybrid system and plug-in hybrid technology as two possible solutions to keep fuel economy in check. Again, we'll have to wait to find out more.

Mazda is no stranger to the six-cylinder engine. The J engine it developed in-house during the early 1980s notably powered a wide array of models, including the MPV and the 929. It was replaced by another V6 called K internally, and many of the firm's more recent cars have been available with a Ford-derived V6. Some of its commercial trucks have used a straight-six before, but it has never made a straight-six for one of its passenger cars.

When Mazda releases the engine, it will join Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar-Land Rover, and BMW in the straight-six club. Toyota offers a straight-six in the Supra, but the 3.0-liter is plucked straight out of the BMW parts bin.

Note: 2017 Mazda Vision Coupe concept pictured.

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