Mazda announces specs of inline-6 that will be completely wasted on SUVs

Mazda has spilled the specs on what should have been its last hurrah for internal combustion engines, the 3.3-liter turbo inline-6. Imagine, a straight-six brought to you by the same wacky dreamers that willed the rotary engine into a production and stuck a Miller-cycle V6 into a family sedan. In theory it should have been perfect. except Mazda is going to completely waste it on an SUV.

Mazda’s specs say their turbocharged straight-six generates 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque on premium and is mated to a mild hybrid system. It’ll also offer the Kinematic Posture Control system developed for the Roadster/Miata, which dabs the brake on the inner rear wheel during cornering. The inline-6 has long been thought to be the perfect cylinder configuration since its firing order makes it perfectly balanced. And given its length, there’s no choice but to put it in a RWD platform. With Mazda’s magic behind its development, you know it’s going to be good.

But the planned sedan is dead. The proposed coupe is dead. This could’ve been an engine that went into the history books alongside the Nissan RB26DETT and Toyota 2JZ-GTE. Alas, its going into the 2024 CX-90, a three-row SUV. Maybe it’ll be more exciting when it’s shoehorned into the smaller CX-70 that’s coming later, we don’t know. What we do know is that it would have been killer in a sedan or coupe.

Mazda released a teaser image of the CX-90 alongside the specs. There it is, all dark. We’re supposed to attend the global reveal of the car later this month. If this article doesn’t revoke our invitation, we’ll let you know how it looks.

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22 Responses to Mazda announces specs of inline-6 that will be completely wasted on SUVs

  1. BlitzPig says:

    Too bad there isn’t a cure for SUV disease.

    God how I hate the things. I frequently drive my employer’s Porsche Cayenne on 90n mile trips to and from the airport, and for other smaller excursions. It’s the automotive equivalent of a sleeping pill. I don’t care what badge is on the front it it, I have never driven an SUV that didn’t prove semi nauseating to me. I suspect it’s because the seats are so high above the roll center. They are a perceived solution to a question than no enthusiast ever asked.

    • 2nerkid says:

      There is though. GVWR tax. Simple as that. Start taxing heavier vehicles more and be astounded at how fast sales and design start trending towards lower, lighter, smaller cars.

  2. Soeedie says:

    Being a small company with a limited R&D budget, Mazda has to make decisions years ahead of where they think their market segment will be. They bet the farm on the rotary and barely survived. They had plans to get into the luxury market but the economy tanked just as they were getting ready for its rollout. Now they have introduced a wonderful new straight six just when the market is moving towards electrification. Great cars and engineering just awful timing.

  3. Azfer says:

    Let’s keep our hopes alive!!! With the potential profits from SUVs, Mazda is the only automaker who would be willing to put some of that into vehicles for enthusiasts. I’m still holding on to the dream of owning the rightful descendant of Mazda’s luxury sedan, the Luce. Nothing is over until it’s over :).

  4. speedie says:

    Mazda makes great cars and engineering but their timing is always just a little bit off. First they introduced the rotary just as the first fuel crisis hit, then they invested heavily on introducing a new luxury division just as the Japanese economy took a nose dive. Now they are introducing a new inline six just as the market is transitioning to electric power. Lets hope their next move is better timed.

  5. Fred Langille says:

    I don’t know … wasted on an SUV? Performance is not only for the smaller family owners, like us. Its for all who need that extra grunt effort. Complaints about the Porsche Cayenne? Where’s this guy coming from? I’ve driven one and, maybe its me, but it had beans to spare. Keeping concept alive of motorsport development, I’d say that the possibility of utilizing the straight 6 in the smaller SUV, is a way to keep the engine alive (unless you WANT a hybrid eCorvette that was just announced).

  6. Taylor C. says:

    The thing is, as much as a luxury inline-6 sedan sounds so good, it’s the SUVs that sell. Like, do we see many LS600 lately? or the LX600? I think the latter. When I was in the Middle East last year, I never saw one LS600, but probably saw 50% of the world’s production of LX570 / LX600 out there.

    Mazda might have bad timing, but then you have to admit that it’s these out-of-the-box mindsets that sets it apart.

  7. MikeRL411 says:

    If only it could be shoe horned into a Miata!

  8. Jim Klein says:

    As much as I want to see it and drive it and want it to succeed, I fear it’s wasted on America. At least if Mazda thinks this will somehow turn their fortunes around it is. The mainstream consumer (i.e. 99% of buyers) don’t know or care if it’s an I-6 or a V6, or if it’s FWD or RWD based, 90% of CX9s will be AWD anyway so somewhat moot except perhaps better balanced than the competition. I mean the Explorer went from FWD to RWD again and nobody really seems to care. As long as the “handling” is enough to negotiate the tight curves in the McDonald’s drive-thru…And the 1% that will consider it will do just that, consider it and then perhaps still buy something else, unfortunately.

    The CX-5 is Mazda’s volume product, right? And for a CUV it’s quite fun to drive along with what everyone likes about the form factor, i.e. ease of entry, decent cargo space, okay visibility, the price is acceptable, and there are multiple versions. Not enough people bought the 6 (and likely very few would have bought the wagon either, gorgeous as it was…), so yeah, the CX-9 makes sense to expand on that and go for a higher-dollar product, it doesn’t likely cost much more to build than a CX-5. The CX-7 will plug a hole although arguably the CX-50 might be doing that already so we’ll see there.

    But the real question is why develop an I-6 now? The world (with the US and Japan markets lagging) are heading electric for now. The MX-30 is sort of a bad joke and non-competitive with its range, but at least shows that Mazda CAN built EVs. Now just scale that up and build a 300-mile range CX-50E or something similar for around $50k and maybe it’ll see some buyers. EVs can be fun to drive, the low center of gravity aids handling tremendously, and besides the Tesla Y and Mustang Mach-E there is space in the category for a player without baggage, especially since Toyota kind of laid an egg with the BZ4X and the Nissan Ariya seems to keep on being delayed.

    • Fashion Victim says:

      “As long as the “handling” is enough to negotiate the tight curves in the McDonald’s drive-thru…”
      Perfectly sums it up.

  9. r100guy says:

    Mazda is doing exactly the correct approach. A hybrid SUV makes the most sense to most people. Give the people what they want and they will come. Makes total business sense. When peoples taste change, Mazda will make the changes necessary to fulfill the need. Right now SUVs are king. A fool would produce a product that no one would buy.
    Gas powered hybrids don’t have the limitations a full EV has and that is demonstrated daily. Price in relation to value will be the deciding factor in the CX90’s success. Mazda has proved successful in that regard with their other models.

    • Alan says:

      Yes, they’re doing the right thing for the business. Have you noticed this is an enthusiast site, however? We don’t care if it makes business sense, we want enthusiast vehicles.

      And respectfully your point is obvious and banal.

  10. Carguy100 says:

    Ben HSU, what a high quality article.
    You absolutely went nowhere with your jaded opinion about Mazda tech and business decisions.
    Wait for the release and write something meaningful next time.

  11. Kevin H. says:

    Everyone who is commenting on the sell-ability of SUVs and current consumer trends of automotive purchases is missing the point of this article on this enthusiast website. We enjoy Japanese Nostalgic Cars (and Japanese nostalgic trucks and SUVs) because of their soul. Mazda making an amazing engine and stuffing it in an appliance is hurtful to an automotive enthusiast like us, period. No matter the potential to make money and POTENTIALLY (aka: maybe) make cars for us, news of a new SUV getting something we all want because the 99% want appliances and not lustful automotive machines still stings… and always will. We, enthusiasts, are outcasts to the automakers and this is a reminder.

  12. anon says:

    We’ll have to see but this I6 doesn’t sound like it’s intended to be some performance engine that lights the world on fire. It sounds like the 2.5L I4 turbo but with two extra cylinders and a reduction in displacement closer to the 2.0L I4 to “right-size” for the SUVs they intend to put it in. It’s certainly not supposed to be an RB26 that is designed to rev to 8000 rpm and is purpose-built in displacement to dominate touring car racing to such an extent that it kills much of the enthusiasm out there for it.

  13. Dennis Amon says:

    I wonder if I could shoehorn it into my MX5

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