The inline-six cylinder engine layout is in the midst of a wonderful renaissance right now, with staunch holdout BMW joined by the likes of Mercedes-Benz a few years ago, and a host of fresh entrants planning or unveiling their own new designs more recently. A few months ago, Jaguar revealed its all-new 3.0 liter hybrid mill, which is part of the corporate Ingenium family, and offers output of 395 hp in addition to using an 48-volt electrical system. If those stats sound familiar, that’s because they aren’t far off from the Mercedes-Benz M256 which also comes in a 3.0-liter displacement—production commenced in 2017.
But now, hot on the release of the Toyota Supra, which uses a BMW B58, Mazda has announced that it too will be joining the inline six club. The engine will be hitting the market sometime between now and 2025, and speculation by automotive news media sources indicates that it will be used in a rear-drive platform. A hybrid setup, once again using a 48-volt system, is also discussed, while there will actually be two versions of the new six; a Skyactiv-D diesel unit, and a gasoline Skyactiv-X version with controlled compression ignition capability.
More details say that the engines will be mounted longitudinally, and work with the marque’s intelligent i-Activ AWD system. With these potentialities in mind, automotive news media pundits are suggesting that the collective efforts, along with the cars that the engines will likely find their way into, are part of a luxury segment offensive in the works at Mazda, with the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the crosshairs.
Mazda’s new inline-six is reported to be planned for application use that involves a, “new-generational lineup” with models that will be arriving over the next few years, and as far out as 2025. Since 2010, Mazda has been evolving what it is refers to as the Kodo design language, which has graced such concepts as the grey four-door Mazda Vision Coupe pictured above, which could be aimed at competitors like the quite popular BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, venerable 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Another example could be the RX Vision concept, which is intended to be a two-door sports coupe that slots above the Miata in terms of price and size—check it out below.
Mazda, one of the smallest independent auto makers remaining, is playing its hand expectedly close to the chest. Specific, hard details are tough to pin down, but a spokesperson for the brand did confirm to Car and Driver that the marque is on a, “path to premium.”
With the current trend of automakers re-embracing the classic inline-six cylinder engine design, and with the interesting facets that have come to light about Mazda’s potential design, we are looking forward to it becoming a reality. After all, these new inline-six designs simply confirm what we as BMW fans have known for decades, that brand has had it right the entire time. But, before you get concerned about Mazda potentially encroaching on BMW territory, recall that BMW is ahead of the game as far as electrification is concerned, with a pair of new platforms that can accept a wide range of propulsion mechanisms, including the 48-volt setup for hybrids that seems to have become the new standard. Now, if only Jaguar can find a way to put their new Ingenium six into the next generation of the F-Type.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy Mazda North American Operations.]