NEWS: Mazda is building a rear-wheel-drive straight-six platform

Mazda is working on a rear-wheel-drive platform to be powered by an inline-6 engine. An investor presentation posted recently on a Mazda website revealed that inline-6 engines running on diesel and gasoline (in compression-ignition SkyActiv-X guise) will be mounted longitudinally in the company’s upcoming “large architecture” vehicles.

Our own sources at Mazda have been hinting that this would be the case for quite some time, but we could not reveal it until this recent development. We suggested the possibility of an FR inline-6 when the Vision Coupe was revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017, and are glad to see it officially announced.

Though beloved by enthusiasts and possessing many intrinsic advantages such as a perfect operating balance thanks to its cylinder firing order, the inline-6 is physically large. Packaging it efficiently, especially in more compact vehicles, is challenging. Over the years, it’s been relegated to more specialized applications, and there have been next to zero FF platforms using an inline-6.

Mazda themselves stated that these engines are to be mounted longitudinally in the presentation. While there are many longitudinal FF cars, we are betting on a high-performance FR application for two reasons.

First, Mazda has been making serious strides towards becoming a maker of high-end drivers’ cars. The ND Miata is arguably the purest sports car on the market today, and its driving dynamics have bled into nearly every car in Mazda’s lineup. Second, in Japan, rumors have been swirling for months that the next Mazda Atenza/6 will have an FR layout. However, even as far back as the 2010 Shinari concept (note the dash display below), Mazda has been hinting at an FR flagship.

For many years now Mazda has talked about moving upscale, brand-wise. An FR sport sedan to replace the 6 would go a long way towards its goal. Add to that a straight-six sporting the most advanced engine technology in the world, powering what is sure to be a sharp-handling chassis tune by Mazda, and we will likely have the best driving machine on the market. Next year is Mazda’s 100th anniversary. Perhaps this will be the Hiroshima company’s gift to itself and to the world.

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15 Responses to NEWS: Mazda is building a rear-wheel-drive straight-six platform

  1. Mazluce says:

    So freaking excited!!!! ? There had been rumors for the past couple of years that the engineers wanted to take 6 rwd. I had no know idea about the inline 6 engine ?. I always loved Mazda more than other Japanese companies partly because my first car was a Protege but it lay mostly with the fact they really do follow their agenda. This means they making another sports car for sure! If only Bissan would take note.

    • Mazluce says:

      If only Nissan would take note. * I really do like Nissans but just been so disinterested in their product lineup for the past decade. Plus I’m still holding a massive grudge over the IDx not being built.

      • spriso says:

        100% agree. I’m a huge Nissan fan, but they will never sell me another new car– the IDx cancellation was the nail in the coffin. Sad how the mighty have fallen…

  2. Spirit Road says:

    Would be so nice!!!

  3. Azfer says:

    This is truly exciting for me having learned to drive on a large, rwd Mazda sedan, the 929 in the 80’s. This is what Mazda means to me, a large, rwd, luxury sedan. REALLY hope they keep a stick shift option but that is all dictated by market demands so hoping there are plenty of like-minded individuals out there who’re willing to fork over dough for a luxury sport sedan with stick shift. LOVE LOVE LOVE JNC. Thanks for sharing!

  4. BlitzPig says:

    TAKE MY MONEY!!!!!!!!

  5. Tim says:

    The return of the 929?

    • XRaider says:

      Also known as the Sentia…….I still remember Sean Connery’s words in one of their commercials: Sentia….Striking

  6. Mark Newton-John says:

    The Audi A8 W12 and Volkswagen Phaeton W12 had a longitudinal mounting ahead of the front axle driving both axles, the W12 being a double VR6 motor.

  7. LB1 says:

    I love Mazda’s style and conviction. Proud to currently own one as a matter of fact.

  8. emuman says:

    Yeah, reminds me of the 90th just before the japanese bubble with peak-japanese-luxury. We are just one step away from the next recession and Mazda is doing it again.

  9. Ant says:

    I spoke with some Skyactiv-X engineers at an event last year and actually asked them whether the technology would allow Mazda to build six-cylinder engines again, given it offset some of the efficiency compromise to four-cylinder engines due to friction, rotating mass etc. They told me it was unlikely…

    Now I was thinking V6s at the time, as I’m a fan of the MX-3 and would love to see small capacity sixes return… but I’m certainly not complaining about a new inline-six…

  10. RX626 says:

    Perhaps it will be the next Atenza/Mazda 6, but I’m hoping they will return the Sentia/929 (Or Mazda 9) name to this inline-six saloon.

    • Lupus says:

      Yeah, i think too that the Atenza/6 will remain on market as mid/upper level car in FF/4WD layout – as a competitor to Audi A6, VW Arteon and such. While the new concept will hopefully morph into new itaration of 929 linage. Probobly they will also offer a 4WD option aside from FR. In similair fasion to the way Alfa Romeo is doing with they gorgeus Gulia, and the very proficient xDrive from BMW.

  11. Damian says:

    Mazda know how to build good chassis dynamics. Look at an old curvy Mazda 929, that had its v6 mounted well behind the front axle. Shame that car wasn’t positioned in a more sporty guise. But it also suggests that most in that segment wouldn’t know and wouldn’t care. I can imagine this new Mazda 6 as a Toyota Chaser, to become a favourite among drifters. Wow, while BMW is busy turning their cars into fwd shopping trolleys, Mazda may steal that market position of the best handling sports sedans….

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