Mazda confirms new rear-drive platform and straight-six powertrains

Mazda’s new range will kick-off with a pair of SUVs, but a sleek sports saloon and estate will follow

Mazda Vision Concept Coupe - front

The combustion engine isn’t quite dead, yet, with Mazda officially confirming that next year will see the introduction of a brand new straight-six petrol and diesel engine to be used in a new rear-wheel drive platform. There have been rumours of Mazda’s new architecture circulating for a while now, but this is the first time the quirky Japanese marque has officially confirmed its existence, and we won’t have to wait long to see it. 

The rear-drive platform will be first used on a pair of SUVs in European markets called CX-60 and CX-80, suggesting they will be more than just a replacement for the current CX-5, but new models with premium SUVs in their sights from BMW, Audi and Volvo. Of more interest to us, though, is the incoming replacement for the Mazda 6, which will be in the form of a sleek rear-wheel drive saloon and possibly a new estate, both benefiting from these new underpinnings. 

There have also been rumours about this platform’s connection to Toyota, and its possible use in next-generation Lexus models. By partnering with Mazda, it will have access to a new compact rear-drive platform to replace the aging chassis that’s still in use in the RC coupe and overseas-market IS models. 

Mazda logo

The global-market Lexus IS makes a case for this as its recent 2021 refresh (which has not been homologated for Europe) revealed a new body, but few changes to the underpinnings, interior and powertrains. This lack of investment into what is one of Lexus’s core models suggests it might have a shorter life cycle than usual, which would add up if a new Mazda-based model is already in development. 

To go along with the new platform are a pair of new combustion engines, set to be 3-litre in-line six cylinder units in petrol and diesel forms. Both will utilise a 48V mild-hybrid system, and the petrol will also include Mazda’s clever Skyactiv-X variable compression system and tiny supercharger as found in the current Mazda 3 and CX-30. 

MX-30

Final outputs are still to be revealed, but initially we expect these engines not to be performance-biased, instead built for their inherent smoothness and premium-feel of multi-cylinder engines – something that an increasing number of actual premium brands seem to deem irrelevant. 

Alongside this announcement is also a confirmation that Mazda will bringing back the rotary engine to be utilised as a small range-extender for the MX-30 next year. 

As a company without a huge automotive conglomerate behind them, this investment in internal combustion technology is a very audacious move when the winds of change are all firmly pointing towards pure electrification. But irrelevant of whether you think this move brave or stupid, we’re thrilled real engineering still seems to be in play at Mazda, let’s just hope it all works out.

Recommended

Mike Cross to retire from JLR, Matt Becker joins as Vehicle and Dynamics Director
Matt Becker
Jaguar

Mike Cross to retire from JLR, Matt Becker joins as Vehicle and Dynamics Director

Jaguar Land Rover is losing its superstar chief engineer, but picks up another in Matt Becker
20 Jan 2022
BMW M760Li Final Edition marks the end of the V12-powered BMW
BMW M760Li – front quarter
BMW 7 Series saloon

BMW M760Li Final Edition marks the end of the V12-powered BMW

Time is being called on the V12 at BMW, with the last 12 M760Li models exclusive to the USA
18 Jan 2022
2022 Porsche Panamera 4 Platinum Edition revealed
Porsche Panamera 4 Platinum Edition – front quarter
Porsche Panamera

2022 Porsche Panamera 4 Platinum Edition revealed

Porsche’s luxury four-door picks up new Platinum Edition trim for the 2022 model year
8 Nov 2021
2022 Audi A8 facelift revealed – refreshed limo to rival Merc S-class and incoming BMW 7-series
Audi S8 2022 FL – header
Audi A8

2022 Audi A8 facelift revealed – refreshed limo to rival Merc S-class and incoming BMW 7-series

Audi’s last combustion A8, and the S8 derivative, will have a big job seeing off rivals from Mercedes and BMW
2 Nov 2021

Most Popular

Car pictures of the week
Maserati MC20
Maserati MC20 coupe

Car pictures of the week

In this week’s car pictures from issue 294, we look at the highlights from Jethro Bovingdon’s drive in the highly anticipated Maserati MC20
21 Jan 2022
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring 2022 review – pairing the magnificent 992 GT3 experience to a more subtle audience
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring eCoty – front tracking
Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 911 GT3 Touring 2022 review – pairing the magnificent 992 GT3 experience to a more subtle audience

There are few, if any, more rewarding, engaging or intense experiences for those in pursuit of the thrill of driving
7 Jan 2022
Peugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar shown in new images
Peugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar
Peugeot

Peugeot 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar shown in new images

Peugeot Sport’s new wingless Le Mans racer gears up for its competition debut later this year
18 Jan 2022