Mazda shows straight-six rear-wheel-drive platform and outlines the coming decades

On June 17 Mazda dropped a ton of information regarding its plans for the next decade. As expected, electrification is on its way, but that doesn’t mean the outlook is bleak for motoring enthusiasts. Additionally, Mazda has released renderings of its highly anticipated straight-six, rear-wheel-drive platform.

In short, Mazda will be introducing five hybrid, five plug-in hybrid, and three all-electric vehicles starting in 2022. The RWD platform will have gasoline and diesel engines paired with a mild hybrid system, which aren’t included in that tally. Mild hybrids are barely hybrids, using an electric motor to support a traditional internal combustion engine while the car is accelerating or cruising. It shouldn’t affect driving feel unless you’re Yojiro Terada.

Notably, the FR platform has a double-wishbone front suspension, as well as a pretty fancy-looking rear setup. It also looks like a true front-midship, with the engine sitting behind the front “axle.” This layout will underpin all the so-called Large Platform Mazdas in the future, which includes what we’ve been tentatively calling the FR6 sedan and an FR crossover like the Infiniti FX likely called the CX-50.

With five PHEVs and three EVs on the docket, it sounds like rotary engine range extender will almost certainly extend beyond the MX-30. That’s great news for fans of this unmistakably Mazda technology.

The first PHEVs will almost certainly be on Mazda’s so-called Small Platform for front- and all-wheel-drive transverse-engine vehicles. These will most likely have what we’ve dubbed the RERE. If we had to guess, we’d venture that three of the five PHEVs will be transverse-engined, and two will have the longitudinal layout. The latter will probably be plug-in versions of the FR6 and its corresponding crossover.

Mazda also takes a holistic well-to-wheel approach that accounts for the environmental toll it takes to manufacture, fully charge, and replace the battery. Taking these factors into account, Mazda decided that the ideal size for the MX-30’s battery was 35.5 kWh.

Of course, this news makes the MX-30 less urgently compelling, now that other REREs might be in the pipeline. While initial reviews of the MX-30 from overseas have consistently said it doesn’t drive like other EVs and feels pretty similar to the very good CX-30, we’d much rather have an RERE car, like a Mazda 3, instead of a crossover.

Beyond that, Mazda says it will begin rolling out a scalable EV platform starting in 2025. The spicier hybrids will use Toyota’s hybrid system, and Mazda will join Toyota, Daihatsu, Subaru, and Suzuki in developing connected car technologies.

The Small Platform will probably be replaced first by this scalable EV architecture, and it’ll probably be similar to other skateboard EV platforms. However, Mazda says it’s committed to its driver-centric engineering and development philosophies, even in the era of CASE (connected, autonomous, shared/services and electric). There’s even talk of an electric Miata with the same driving dynamics in the finest MX-5 traditions.

The small and large architecture platform may be Mazda’s last ICE platforms, but it’ll still be a good 10-15 years of ICE cars from them. At least for the near future, it seems that Mazda will tune their EVs to drive as close to their ICE cars as possible, setting them apart from other carmakers. The era of ICEs might be coming to a close, but at least we’ll have the straight-six, RWD Mazda to send it off with a bang.

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2 Responses to Mazda shows straight-six rear-wheel-drive platform and outlines the coming decades

  1. Tom Westmacott says:

    Every time I see an article about the Mazda straight-six, I can hardly believe it – the idea that Mazda are about to start making a noble engine configuration they’ve never done before, under the current circumstances of combustion engines being phased out. And new diesel engines too!! I’m waiting for the ‘April Fool’ footnote, or the announcement that ‘an economic case could not be made’ to proceed with this drivetrain, but no, apparently it’s for real. Doesn’t mean we’ll ever get them here in Europe, although one can hope.

    I see a second propshaft to the front wheels on those two large platform cars – presumably another way it’ll be similar to Nissan’s Skyline platform. Another one is

    I hope we end up with a sports car with this new straight-six, whether it’s called MX-7 or Supra Mk6 I don’t mind.

    Thanks for the updates, can’t wait til these arrive next year, maybe I’ll believe it when they’re actually in showrooms.

  2. rms says:

    My understanding is that Lexus will also be using this architecture for their next-gen IS/GS, and if so then Toyota’s deep pockets will keep things ship-shape for Mazda. Toyota can focus on other areas and their volume sellers, while helping out the likes of Subaru and Mazda with fruits of its internal R&D programs to keep abreast with the Germans (whose products are well ahead of several Lexus lines, esp. when it comes to the RWD and higher-end SUV platforms).

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