We’ve said it before, Mazda is known for doing things its own way, and this attitude helps explain the company’s success in certain specific global markets – for instance in Canada, and more specifically in Quebec.
This is so much so that when we hear the company is on a project that appears to go against the industry grain, we’re no longer even surprised.
The latest news that falls into this category comes from media outlet Jalopnik, which reported that the Japanese automaker is working on development of two new straight-six engines. The information was apparently included in a financial report destined for investors, and it outlines plans for one diesel and one gas-fed unit. The latter engine will be derived from the 4-cylinder SKYACTIV-X engine found in the new Mazda3.
Mazda has for the moment confirmed none of this, and we know nothing of the technical details of these new engines, or which models they will eventually serve. The documents do reveal that the engines would be mounted longitudinally, meaning they will probably send power to the rear wheels of the vehicle. All-wheel drive is also a possibility, of course, as is a 48-volt light hybrid or plug-in configuration. Remains to be seen…
Regardless of the details, what’s significant is the context in which Mazda is working on two new power units. And that is that the company recently introduced versions of its existing models intended to compete against premium brands and models. Unlike many of its rivals, Mazda doesn’t have a luxury sub-brand, but clearly it wants to develop higher-end products that bring higher profit margins.
The list of makes that currently have straight-six engines in their portfolios includes prestige brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar and Land Rover.
Mazda is definitely looking at the upscale segments as fertile growth areas for its product line. For the moment, the closest it comes to offering luxury models are the Signature top-end trims of its existing mass-market models. But this could change in the next few years, and for us the news of these new inline-six engines is a sign that it will.