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mazda shows the world how to get things done with work on a new straight six engine
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Mazda shows the world how to get things done with work on a new straight-six engine

Tells Toyota to hold its beer and learn a thing or two as Hiroshima designs an inline-six SkyActiv-X

Dinesh Appavu Photo

Dinesh Appavu

10 May 2019


It might touch a nerve or two but the straight-six is the best engine bar none. Unfortunately, emissions, tree-huggers and people that don’t subscribe to fun have led to the demise of this configuration.

Heck, even Toyota turned to BMW for a straight-six to power the new Supra and subsequently triggered the entire keyboard warrior union as it didn’t develop a 3JZ, citing costs as an excuse.

Mazda on the other hand has always danced to its own tune and out of nowhere, is now developing an all-new straight-six engine with Skyactiv-X technology that will elevate it among the elites comprising BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar whilst effortlessly flipping the bird at Toyota.

A presentation titled Fiscal Year 2019 March Results on Mazda’s investor site details some future product plans that casually list the new straight-six SkyActiv-X and SkyActiv-D among the usual suspects such as the obvious of continuing the Kodo design language we love and development of mild-hybrid tech.

Almost on the brink of extinction a few years back, the straight-six is suddenly enjoying a revival as Mercedes-Benz turned to it for their mild-hybrid modular system and Jaguar going down the same route. It goes without saying that BMW has always been a major proponent of it.

Toyota’s chief engineer for the new Supra, Tetsuya Tada, has always maintained that developing a new straight-six from scratch would’ve been a financial nightmare that could’ve swallowed up years of development, requiring a new factory and subsequently raise the price of the new Supra.

So, excuse us and probably everyone else in the industry for throwing dirty looks at Toyota following this revelation from Mazda.

Mazda being Mazda, they had to incorporate their Skyactiv-X witchcraft and wizardry. As a quick recap, the tech functions by using a process Mazda calls Spark Controlled Compression Ignition that is essentially a spark plug lighting off a localized rich mixture of fuel and air to create a fireball that compresses the lean mixture throughout the rest of the cylinder, yielding spontaneous ignition.

The end result is a petrol engine with the efficiency of a diesel engine and if you can’t wrap your head around it, fret not, we’re still trying to as well.

In inline-four form, the SkyActiv-X tech will debut in certain trims of the new Mazda 3 and work its way into the engine bays of other models.

This beg the questions however of where will the straight-six mill call home? The only Mazda model with a a longitudinal engine configuration is the Miata and there’s no way it’ll slot into the legendary roadster.

Logically, it should find its way into the larger models such as the next-generation Mazda 6 and CX-9.



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