Here's Our First Look at Mazda's Straight-Six Rear-Drive Platform

·2 min read
Photo credit: Mazda
Photo credit: Mazda

Mazda is aiming upmarket, and to compete with well-established luxury-car brands, it's developing a new straight-six and a rear-drive platform. Today, the company outlined its Sustainable Zoom Zoom 2030 product plan, and in doing so, gave us a look at the new hardware coming to the next-generation 6 sedan, and presumably, a crossover or two.

Obviously, the highlight here is the straight-six up front, the cylinder count of this engine confirmed to R&T by a Mazda representative. Here it's paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which is in development as part of Mazda's plan to make 100-percent of its offerings electrified in some capacity by 2030. The company is also developing its first plug-in hybrid drivetrain, which the company illustrated with a four-cylinder gas engine mounted longitudinally in this new platform. Mazda also appears to be developing a straight-six diesel mild-hybrid, though we'd be surprised to see that in the U.S.

Photo credit: Mazda
Photo credit: Mazda

What isn't so surprising is that this new platform will offer all-wheel drive, as indicated by the shaft connecting the transmission to the front wheels. The layout seen here is typical of rear/all-wheel drive platforms, like those used by BMW and Mercedes. Of note, however, is the front suspension, which appears to use double wishbones. The only other Mazda to use a double wishbone front axle currently is the MX-5 Miata. The rear appears to have a multi-link setup of some sort, as indicated by the split upper arm. It looks like a great platform to work with, and given Mazda's well-earned reputation for dynamic excellence, we expect great things here.

Photo credit: Mazda
Photo credit: Mazda

Mazda also announced that it's developing a new dedicated EV platform, SKYACTIV Scalable EV Architecture, which will debut in 2025. This platform will be designed to underpin a number of different vehicle types, and will accommodate a rotary range extender.

All exciting things, though we're naturally wondering, how does the Miata fit in with all this? Free idea for Mazda execs: Develop a lightweight sports coupe to use a straight-six, and base the next Miata on that.

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