Mazda Shows Inline-Six Engines, Confirms U.S.-Built Hybrid SUV

mazda inline six engines


  • A new Mazda investor presentation includes many future powertrain details, as first reported by Japanese publication Car Watch.
  • A photo shows the company’s new inline-six and inline-four engines that are meant for longitudinal applications.
  • Mazda has also confirmed that a new U.S.-built SUV will use Toyota’s hybrid system.

    A new Mazda investor presentation has shed more light on the company’s future powertrain plans, which include inline-six engines, new hybrid offerings, and longitudinal platforms. Currently, all Mazdas sold in the U.S. are powered by inline-four engines and—except for the Miata—feature transversely mounted engines, so switching its larger vehicles to a longitudinal arrangement could have a transformative effect and help legitimize Mazda’s ambition to become a premium brand.

    We first heard about these plans in 2019 and now have proof that the inline-six exists, thanks to this image showing two versions of the engine and its cylinder heads. We believe the engine on the left is a gasoline version and the engine on the right is a diesel version, as it has a flat cylinder head design that indicates a smaller combustion chamber yielding a higher compression ratio and appears to have more emissions equipment. Mazda also says that it will offer a 48-volt hybrid system in conjunction with the inline-six and a version of the engine that uses the company’s compression-ignition-capable Skyactiv-X technology.

    new mazda inline six engines


    The engine in the middle is an inline-four with an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the transmission. This could hint at another hybrid system for longitudinal applications, as Mazda says it is also working on a plug-in-hybrid system in addition to the 48-volt system.

    We reached out to Mazda about these engines and while the company did not provide any additional details, a spokesperson did say, “We are excited for these powertrains to be part of our future and provide our fans with more options as we continue on our path to premium.”

    The two Mazda nameplates most likely to use these new powertrains and ride on the new longitudinal platform are the Mazda 6 mid-size sedan and the CX-9 three-row crossover. We imagine that both of these models will transition to the new architecture when they reach their next generation in the next few years. The inline-four seen here is likely to be the base engine, possibly with a turbocharger, with the inline-six optional. The gasoline versions of these engines are most likely to reach the states, as we don’t expect Mazda to sell more diesels here and the Skyactiv-X system has yet to be approved for U.S. regulations despite being on sale in other markets since last year.

    U.S.-Built Hybrid Crossover

    Also contained in the presentation is information about the new Mazda crossover model that will be built in the company’s new plant in Alabama that is a joint venture with Toyota. We previously learned that this new Mazda model would be specific to the U.S. market and that it would use Toyota components—and we now know that includes its hybrid powertrain, which Mazda confirms will be a Toyota unit.

    What we’re not sure about is where this new model will fit into the Mazda lineup. The most obvious gap is between the compact CX-5 and the three-row CX-9, so it’s possible Mazda could revive the CX-7 nameplate for a two-row mid-size SUV. This vehicle is meant to go into production in 2022.

    Timing for the inline-six engine and longitudinal platform is less clear, but look for more news in the coming years as Mazda embarks on this upscale transformation that should take shape by 2026 at the latest.

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