Mazda plans straight-six Skyactiv-X, Skyactiv-D engines

May 10, 2019

It seems Mazda is developing all-new straight-six petrol and diesel engines. Yep, it wants to rekindle the spirit of the inline-six engine layout, according to Mazda presentation documents for the 2019 fiscal year.

Jalopnik first found the details, having – probably painfully – scouring through the 56-page document. On page 25, under the heading “Investment for brand value improvement”, the presentation clearly states that it is planning a straight-six Skyactiv-X, and a straight-six Skyactiv-D.

This is very interesting news, and the first we’ve heard of such plans. Mazda doesn’t currently offer any six-cylinder engine in its current local lineup. In fact, the largest-capacity passenger car engine it offers in Australia is the 3.2-litre turbo-diesel five-cylinder engine, which is borrowed from Ford for the Mazda BT-50.

You may have noticed there are a few other car brands turning back to the inline-six layout. Mercedes-Benz recently switched from years of V6 configuration to a straight-six, and Jaguar Land Rover is following the same path. Meanwhile, BMW has only really offered an inline six throughout its history as opposed to a V6.

What’s the difference? Well, inline-six engines are inherently smoother and better balanced. The rotating mass of each piston in line makes for a more harmonious operation as opposed to a V-layout, which sends pistons outward and firing away from each other. The downside is the inline-six takes up a lot more space under the bonnet than a V6. Power and torque outputs are usually the same.

As much as we would love to provide further details, we’ve gone through the entire document and unfortunately nothing else is mentioned. However, the fact that it is being labelled as a “Skyactiv-X” means it will come with Mazda’s new Spark Controlled Compression Ignition technology.

This SCCI technology first debuted with the new Mazda3, and essentially means the engine can run without the use of the spark plugs – see video above for more on how it works. It is yet to be offered in Australia, but the Skyactiv-X 2.0L unit produces 133kW while promising the economy of a much smaller engine. In fact, Mazda promises a 20-30 per cent improvement in efficiency with the tech. The engine is naturally aspirated, so we assume the six-cylinder version will be as well.

Now, all kinds of possibilities jump into mind with this new unit. Mazda could introduce it for the Mazda6 and CX-9. Perhaps more interestingly, Mazda might introduce the Skyactiv-D diesel straight-six for the next-gen BT-50. As we know, the next BT-50 will be co-developed with the next-gen Isuzu D-Max. Diving deeper into the speculation pool, one could predict a Mazda straight-six option for the D-Max as well. Exciting times ahead. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on official details anyway.

In other news from the document, it seems Mazda is also preparing a new electric vehicle with “independently developed” batteries, as well as new mild-hybrid tech with 48-volt power systems.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.