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Mazda developing straight-six engines, possibly rear-drive platform

Mazda will continue its push further upmarket with new engines, new platforms and new hybrid tech.

Mazda has added fuel to their upmarket push, according to leaked plans to develop a new large platform and straight-six engines under the SkyActiv-X banner. 

Appearing in an investor presentation uncovered by US media, the Japanese manufacturer detailed its future plans which include both a small and large platform, straight-six engines using both petrol and diesel fuels and the development of 48V mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains. 

The presentation was reportedly published on the brand’s global site before being removed, and seemingly confirms Mazda’s apparent plans to escalate into premium territory. 

No timeline was given for the new platforms and drivetrains to be launched, but it’s speculated that the next-generation Mazda6 will be the first car to adopt the new architecture when it debuts within a few years. 

Mazda's interior quality game looks set to increase further Mazda's interior quality game looks set to increase further

The straight-six engine has recently enjoyed something of a comeback in with Jaguar Land Rover, as well as Mercedes-Benz replacing V6s with newly-developed straight-sixes.

The presentation included both petrol and diesel fuel types for the straight-six, suggesting that Mazda’s diesel engine development is very much still underway. It’s also the first mention during Mazda's SkyActiv era of engines with more than four cylinders. 

Even more interesting is that the presentation lists a longitudinal engine layout for the large architecture, which could suggest that Mazda is developing its new platform to be rear-wheel drive. The platform is also set to be available in all-wheel drive for European and North American markets, and will incorporate 48V mild-hybrid system for greater efficiency and performance. 

A six-cylinder, rear-drive, coupe-styled Mazda6? Sign us up! A six-cylinder, rear-drive, coupe-styled Mazda6? Sign us up!

The straight-six engines will form a part of Mazda’s latest-generation SkyActiv-X technology suite with the availability of petrol compression ignition technology. Set to arrive first in the Mazda3 later this year or in 2020, the new tech is combined with a supercharger for performance rivaling the 2.5-litre petrol in the 3, yet supposedly with efficiency of a four-cylinder diesel engine. 

Looking further into the Mazda future product crystal ball, possible products to use the rear-drive element include a production version of the RX-Vision concept, a larger and more powerful sports car than the current MX-5, a larger-than-CX-9 SUV or a Mazda6-based coupe. 

The RX-Vision concept could become a reality using the new platform. The RX-Vision concept could become a reality using the new platform.

Mazda Australia made no comment on the new drivetrains, only informing CarsGuide that it had "nothing to announce." 

Do you like the sound of a rear-wheel drive Mazda6? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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