In the wake of the 2014 New York Motor Show, news has surfaced that the Mazda CX-9 is the next vehicle in Mazda’s lineup (after the Mazda2) to receive the ever-popular SkyActiv technology suite. However, there’s an interesting twist… Mazda is considering the development of their first-ever six-cylinder SkyActiv engine to economize its large SUV; it would be their first V6 engine since the ‘90s.
The current Mazda CX-9 operates on a Ford-sourced V6 petrol with plenty of punch, but suboptimal fuel economy. For the large SUV to meet Mazda’s efficiency standards that come along with the SkyActiv moniker, change will need to be made, specifically a change of powertrains.
Engine Options for the Next CX-9
According to Masahiro Moro, Mazda’s chief of sales and marketing, they have two options for their next-gen SUV. In an interview with Australian automotive blog Car Advice, he described how the Japanese automaker is currently favoring the use of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine which would fit well with the rest of the SkyActiv lineup. This option also fits with industry trend and should in theory be the most cost-efficient option.
Still, Moro acknowledges that opinions differ and that the bottom line is what’s most cost effective. He describes, “If I ask Mr. Hitomi, our top guy of powertrains at Mazda, he believes the downsizing turbo solution cost more [than developing a six-cylinder SkyActiv engine].” In short, a six-cylinder SkyActiv engine is possible, but decisions are still being made.
However, Mazda definitely will NOT offer a hybrid version of the next CX-9. Moro said that even a diesel variant is unlikely, although more likely than a hybrid. He explains, “With the CX-9 the main market is the USA. In general, these customers don’t have a strong preference towards diesel engines. So probably the main engine should be a petrol engine in my opinion.”
Mazda Moving to Premium Market
The other primary benefit of developing a six-cylinder SkyActiv engine is upmarket application. Mazda knows that they will need some sort of six-cylinder engine for their future expansion into the premium segment, although whether it will be a V6 or a straight six is undecided.
While we’re talking about possible premium cars from Mazda, we would do well to mention a recent report from our fellow automotive blog, Motor Trend. According to them, the Mazda Hazumi Concept we saw earlier this year at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show was NOT merely a preview of the upcoming Mazda2. Instead, their insider tells them that it also previews a luxurious subcompact that Mazda will use to break into Europe’s premium segment. They claim that this unnamed subcompact will be the fifth of the five cars that Mazda’s CEO, Masamichi Kogai, promised to release by March of 2016.