The most powerful Mazda engine ever … and it’s in an SUV

J.A.
By J.A. Ackley
Jan 24, 2023 | Mazda, Inline six, Mazda CX-90, RX Vision

Photo: Courtesy Mazda

It’s got the most powerful mass-produced Mazda engine ever. It’s got rear-wheel-drive (“well, rear-biased all-wheel-drive”). And … it’s another SUV.

Why couldn’t it be a car, like the Mazda RX-Vision concept that was revealed in 2015?

Mazda recently announced the power plant for its new CX-90 SUV. The engine is a 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-six that puts out 340 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s the first-ever inline-six engine that Mazda has produced.

The company also plans to offer a plug-in hybrid drivetrain for the new CX-90.

However, maybe there’s hope for Mazda car enthusiasts who clamor for a RX-Vision or a new Mazda6.

The announcement goes on to say, “This inline six turbo is developed specifically for the large platform, Mazda’s all-new rear-biased all-wheel drive layout that supports a performance-focused experience.”

Why stop at one vehicle? Mazda tends to use their engines across multiple models.

We can dream, right?

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Mazda, Inline six, Mazda CX-90 and RX Vision news.
More like this
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/24/23 5:16 p.m.

So it sounds that Mazda will be one of the first to make the jump back to an I6.  I was kind of working on one as my last project a year ago- but then I stopped working.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/24/23 6:02 p.m.

Not a lot of automakers are introducing ground-up new combustion engines right now. Mazda does not follow the crowd.

They need a halo car other than a sub-$30k roadster. They need that RX-Vision. So cool.

J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
1/24/23 7:37 p.m.

I've been hearing rumors of this inline-six engine for awhile. I've also been hearing rumors of a RWD, inline-six sport coupe. Well, one of two rumors came true.

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/24/23 7:52 p.m.

Did you guys get any details of the I6?  Theoretically, a single turbo version is a big help for emissions.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/24/23 7:52 p.m.

Mazda explicitly said they were building a straight six back in 2019, I think. The RWD coupe part clearly comes from the RX-Vision.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/24/23 8:03 p.m.

I wonder if it will fit in a Miata? I stuffed a Volvo 6 cylinder into a 4 banger Volvo 1800 45 years ago... hint, hint.smiley

Opti
Opti SuperDork
1/24/23 8:30 p.m.

If this was out I would have bought it instead of the Jeep for the wife. Tried to get her in a cx50 but she wasn't a fan

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/24/23 8:32 p.m.
alfadriver said:

So it sounds that Mazda will be one of the first to make the jump back to an I6.  I was kind of working on one as my last project a year ago- but then I stopped working.

Stellantis just came out with one, too. Interesting how cyclical these things can be.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
1/24/23 9:55 p.m.

If Mazda puts this in a sedan or a coupe with a great chassis and the steering from the CX-50 (that Throttle House compared to Lotus steering), I will be very excited!

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/24/23 10:03 p.m.

I'm curious what the price of the new CX-90 will be. The better half liked the CX-5 loaner we had a few years ago. 

Sine_Qua_Non
Sine_Qua_Non SuperDork
1/24/23 10:08 p.m.
z31maniac said:

I'm curious what the price of the new CX-90 will be. The better half liked the CX-5 loaner we had a few years ago. 

Likely to start above $40K for base

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 12:53 a.m.
J.A. Ackley said:

I've been hearing rumors of this inline-six engine for awhile. I've also been hearing rumors of a RWD, inline-six sport coupe. Well, one of two rumors came true.

One of two rumors came true so far.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/25/23 9:00 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

They need a halo car other than a sub-$30k roadster. They need that RX-Vision. So cool.

We the niche GRM/enthusiast crowd think they need it. In reality they don't, just like how Toyota doesn't need the BRZ and Supra to sell more Rav4's. It would be incredibly cool but I wouldn't hold my breath. Mazda is still a very small company and I'd be surprised if they can afford to develop two sports cars in the ever-growing world of SUVs and crossovers.

j_tso
j_tso Dork
1/25/23 9:36 a.m.

wasn't there also a rumor of Mazda working with Toyota on a sporty sedan? 

Will people complain if Toyota used a Mazda I6 instead of BMW's?

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
1/25/23 9:48 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Not a lot of automakers are introducing ground-up new combustion engines right now. Mazda does not follow the crowd.

They need a halo car other than a sub-$30k roadster. They need that RX-Vision. So cool.

That vision coupe is beautiful. This setup sounds like it could be a direct competitor to the MDX Type S, which, is a great car. 

Would love to see this in a sedan. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/25/23 9:58 a.m.

I almost forgot that Mazda held some sort of financial meeting a few years ago that pretty much spilled the beans on its new inline-six:

[Mazda Touts New Inline-Six Engine]

It's not a long read, but here's the slide from the presentation that detailed the new engine(s):

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/25/23 10:00 a.m.

In reply to j_tso :

That's a theory that I've had in my head. I don't know if there will be less complaining, but Toyota souring inline sixes from Mazda seems more right?

triumph7
triumph7 HalfDork
1/25/23 10:39 a.m.
maschinenbau said:
Keith Tanner said:

They need a halo car other than a sub-$30k roadster. They need that RX-Vision. So cool.

We the niche GRM/enthusiast crowd think they need it. In reality they don't, just like how Toyota doesn't need the BRZ and Supra to sell more Rav4's. It would be incredibly cool but I wouldn't hold my breath. Mazda is still a very small company and I'd be surprised if they can afford to develop two sports cars in the ever-growing world of SUVs and crossovers.

Yeah, a halo CAR is not likely to help sell (essentially) trucks.  The good news for Mazda is that they almost have the budget sports car market to themselves.  Beyond the Miata there's the BRZ but the next step is the more expensive Boxter and it only gets worse from there.

Another thought as we've seen some brand new ICE developments in a world of EV only futures recently, is hydrogen ready for a comeback?

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/25/23 12:22 p.m.
j_tso said:

wasn't there also a rumor of Mazda working with Toyota on a sporty sedan? 

Will people complain if Toyota used a Mazda I6 instead of BMW's?

They probably would, but it won't happen. It's not so much that Toyota is using the BMW I6 in their car, as it is, it's really a hard top Z4 with Toyota bodywork and suspension tuning. 

Even the inside is straight out of the BMW. 

Matt B (fs)
Matt B (fs) UltraDork
1/25/23 12:34 p.m.

From the website: "the 3.3-liter inline 6 turbo is the most powerful engine we’ve ever engineered, and was developed in unison with a performance focused vehicle platform, to support a front engine, rear-biased AWD layout. "

Hopefully when they say platform it is modular enough to be used for more than SUVs.  To those of you in the industry who understand platform engineering, is that even possible?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 12:39 p.m.
triumph7 said:
maschinenbau said:
Keith Tanner said:

They need a halo car other than a sub-$30k roadster. They need that RX-Vision. So cool.

We the niche GRM/enthusiast crowd think they need it. In reality they don't, just like how Toyota doesn't need the BRZ and Supra to sell more Rav4's. It would be incredibly cool but I wouldn't hold my breath. Mazda is still a very small company and I'd be surprised if they can afford to develop two sports cars in the ever-growing world of SUVs and crossovers.

Yeah, a halo CAR is not likely to help sell (essentially) trucks.  The good news for Mazda is that they almost have the budget sports car market to themselves.  Beyond the Miata there's the BRZ but the next step is the more expensive Boxter and it only gets worse from there.

Another thought as we've seen some brand new ICE developments in a world of EV only futures recently, is hydrogen ready for a comeback?

Last question: no. It's as ready as it always was, comforting because it seems familiar but basically unworkable. Even the concept of a fast fill doesn't really work if you have multiple cars back to back. But the Japanese government likes the idea so the Japanese automakers will keep trying a little.

Pretty much every automaker has a halo car. Even Mazda has had them in the past. Corvettes sell Blazers by making them seem cooler than just a tall station wagon.

Mazda's got the budget sports car market to themselves because nobody has been able to compete ;) There have been past attempts and there will be more attempts. Others seem to aim more upmarket (BMW, Porsche, Honda) and then discover that the "budget" part was actually important. Or they build crap (Ford Capri) or just walk away (Solstice). But if Mazda wants to portray themselves as a premium brand (which they do) then they need a showcase. There's a new Miata coming soon, it would not be a surprise to see something else sharing the RWD longitudinal platform. We've seen that before :)

If anyone puts this straight six in a Miata, I'm calling it an MX-5C.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/25/23 12:51 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I agree that if the halo car thing happens, it's likely a stretched and shared platform with the Miata like the NC/RX-8. Which is not a bad thing at all.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
1/25/23 12:52 p.m.

Is no one else going to mention the fact that mazda's most powerful engine ever has 340hp? I truly feel embarassed for them. 

STM317
STM317 PowerDork
1/25/23 12:52 p.m.
alfadriver said:

Did you guys get any details of the I6?  Theoretically, a single turbo version is a big help for emissions.  

340hp/369 ft-lbs, and very likely to include a 48V mild hybrid system.

They also have a 3.3L inline 6 powered by diesel in Europe, which I'd guess shares some components with this new gasser.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/25/23 12:54 p.m.

In reply to bobzilla :

Similarly, the Civic Type R's 306hp made it the most powerful engine ever put in a US market Honda.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
1/25/23 1:02 p.m.

Remember when you could go to a Mazda dealer and pick from a Speed6, Speed3, MX-5, RX-8, or B Series truck instead of the jelly bean hellscape they offer today? 

I love that they are independent and do their own thing; but, nothing about their lineup today is going to pull me into their showroom or even visit their website. Keith is 100% right in that they need that Halo car to draw people in. 

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
1/25/23 1:04 p.m.
maschinenbau said:

In reply to bobzilla :

Similarly, the Civic Type R's 306hp made it the most powerful engine ever put in a US market Honda.

MDX Type S and TLX Type S pushes out 355hp. It's Acura but still a Honda product. NSX Type S, 600hp. 

alfadriver
alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 1:14 p.m.
STM317 said:
alfadriver said:

Did you guys get any details of the I6?  Theoretically, a single turbo version is a big help for emissions.  

340hp/369 ft-lbs, and very likely to include a 48V mild hybrid system.

They also have a 3.3L inline 6 powered by diesel in Europe, which I'd guess shares some components with this new gasser.

That update did show that- good call.  

And a reminder that a 48V mild hybrid makes it an EV.  And satisfies many (if not most) EV requirements around the world.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 1:16 p.m.
bobzilla said:

Is no one else going to mention the fact that mazda's most powerful engine ever has 340hp? I truly feel embarassed for them. 

Their "big power" era also coincides with the 276 hp gentleman's agreement for Japanese automakers, so they never really stretched the potential of the rotaries.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 1:18 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
bobzilla said:

Is no one else going to mention the fact that mazda's most powerful engine ever has 340hp? I truly feel embarassed for them. 

Their "big power" era also coincides with the 276 hp gentleman's agreement for Japanese automakers, so they never really stretched the potential of the rotaries.

The 20B was probably their production engine of greatest potential, and boost tapers off to about 4psi near redline to keep the power down.  People make roughly the same amount of power, sometimes more, by removing the turbos.  Less midrange power of course...

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
1/25/23 1:38 p.m.

Can we get this engine as an option in the following package + RWD w/ a manual trans? 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 2:08 p.m.

In reply to pres589 (djronnebaum) :

And in brown, I assume?

BoulderG
BoulderG New Reader
1/25/23 2:45 p.m.

Would the SUV for this engine also be the largest and heaviest Mazda ever?

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/25/23 2:58 p.m.
maschinenbau said:

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I agree that if the halo car thing happens, it's likely a stretched and shared platform with the Miata like the NC/RX-8. Which is not a bad thing at all.

Agreed.  I'm thinking it'll either be a stretched, more GT oriented version of the Miata (maybe an NE Miata / new MX-6 pair?)  Or it'll come in the form of a new Mazda 6 intended to compete a little more with the Germans vs the Camry. 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
1/25/23 3:07 p.m.
DirtyBird222 said:

Remember when you could go to a Mazda dealer and pick from a Speed6, Speed3, MX-5, RX-8, or B Series truck instead of the jelly bean hellscape they offer today? 

I love that they are independent and do their own thing; but, nothing about their lineup today is going to pull me into their showroom or even visit their website. Keith is 100% right in that they need that Halo car to draw people in. 

And people often accuse me of living in the past....  laugh

In case you missed it, SUV's are what people are buying.  Even Porsche makes them.  Maybe the "halo" car Mazda needs is a powerful SUV that drives like a sedan.

As the current owner of a 2019 Mazda CX-9, I'd certainly consider another CX-9 with a nifty inline-6 powerplant in the not-too-distant future.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
1/25/23 3:08 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I'm not buying another not-5-door car and I don't really want an SUV.  I'd really prefer red, as usual, but I'll take brown.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 3:33 p.m.

Stick rwd wagon people seem to also think brown is a neat idea for some reason :) I think it would almost have to come in Soul Red because Mazda paints everything Soul Red.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
1/25/23 5:31 p.m.

Giving Soul Red a rating of "meh" but I doubt I have to worry about picking a color for this thing that Mazda won't build anyway.

Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter)
Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/25/23 6:03 p.m.

I'm excited for this engine and for the CX-90, it should be a nice update vs CX-9 (which drives great for the segment but uses interior space poorly). 

Stellantis has their new inline six (Hurricane) in two power outputs, it's fantastic. I've also driven the 3.0L I6 from Land Rover in a few Defenders and a Range Rover, and Mercedes' 3.0L I6 in an E coupe. They all sound wonderful and make nice silky power across the rev range. Good shift from a V6 IMO.

Mazda needs this and it needs to be more of a revvy thing than the turbo 2.5 they have now. The 2.5T is great but very diesel-y and not especially fun, despite being placed in some great chassis.

triumph7
triumph7 HalfDork
1/25/23 9:59 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Well, Soul Red is an awesome color

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 10:00 p.m.

In reply to triumph7 :

Amen.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/25/23 10:53 p.m.
Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter) said:

I'm excited for this engine and for the CX-90, it should be a nice update vs CX-9 (which drives great for the segment but uses interior space poorly). 

Stellantis has their new inline six (Hurricane) in two power outputs, it's fantastic. I've also driven the 3.0L I6 from Land Rover in a few Defenders and a Range Rover, and Mercedes' 3.0L I6 in an E coupe. They all sound wonderful and make nice silky power across the rev range. Good shift from a V6 IMO.

Mazda needs this and it needs to be more of a revvy thing than the turbo 2.5 they have now. The 2.5T is great but very diesel-y and not especially fun, despite being placed in some great chassis.

Mercedes is making inline sixes again?  Neet.

Most Mercedes I see have some variation of the direct injected V6.  I did do some extensive work on a C300 over the past couple of months, which of course has a turbocharged 2l four cylinder.  I kinda like it.

Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos)
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/26/23 2:38 p.m.

Very interesting news! 

I *still* don't get the crossover hate. Crossovers are great for utilitarian daily use. In the end, selling a ton of crossovers lets a company like Mazda put out a performance sedan.

Let's just hope they get the engine tuning right and the engines don't eat themselves like some of their others have done.

 

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/26/23 2:42 p.m.
Brett_Murphy (Agent of Chaos) said:

Very interesting news! 

I *still* don't get the crossover hate. Crossovers are great for utilitarian daily use. In the end, selling a ton of crossovers lets a company like Mazda put out a performance sedan.

Let's just hope they get the engine tuning right and the engines don't eat themselves like some of their others have done.

I don't mind them in concept, but the reality doesn't always line up.  Many of the crossovers out there aren't any more utilitarian than a sedan or wagon could be, and by virtue of being tall and often proportionally short in length to make them not seem too big, they get worse fuel economy than a similarly capable car could.  The designers end up being a bit handicapped in the aero department by the desired height. 

fidelity101
fidelity101 UberDork
1/26/23 3:25 p.m.
j_tso said:

wasn't there also a rumor of Mazda working with Toyota on a sporty sedan? 

Will people complain if Toyota used a Mazda I6 instead of BMW's?

I think there are some growing partnerships here, the current north/south america yaris is the mazda2 made in mexico, the CX50 is built in a Toyota assembly plant in Alabama... 

fidelity101
fidelity101 UberDork
1/26/23 3:28 p.m.
1988RedT2 said:
DirtyBird222 said:

Remember when you could go to a Mazda dealer and pick from a Speed6, Speed3, MX-5, RX-8, or B Series truck instead of the jelly bean hellscape they offer today? 

I love that they are independent and do their own thing; but, nothing about their lineup today is going to pull me into their showroom or even visit their website. Keith is 100% right in that they need that Halo car to draw people in. 

And people often accuse me of living in the past....  laugh

In case you missed it, SUV's are what people are buying.  Even Porsche makes them.  Maybe the "halo" car Mazda needs is a powerful SUV that drives like a sedan.

As the current owner of a 2019 Mazda CX-9, I'd certainly consider another CX-9 with a nifty inline-6 powerplant in the not-too-distant future.

having a mazda without any ford in it is very appealing too 

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/26/23 3:33 p.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

From an ergonomic and utilitarian standpoint, height is nice. I don't like having to do the limbo to get in the family BMW coupe or Hyundai sedan. I like the level entry of a moderately-sized truck or SUV, the higher vantage point and the headroom. I'm willing to sacrifice a little MPG and performance for these things. It's really not that complicated.

I'm very happy to see I6s make a comeback, Turbo 4s are fine and all on paper, but can't match the smoothness of a 6.

 

frenchyd
frenchyd GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/26/23 5:39 p.m.

Six in a row is the way to go.  

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
1/26/23 6:53 p.m.
frenchyd said:

Six in a row is the way to go.  

Unless, of course, you can get eight!

https://www.speednik.com/files/2021/06/four-of-the-greatest-straight-8s-to-ever-come-off-an-assembly-line-2021-06-10_16-16-46_995135-1440x960.jpg

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
1/26/23 7:50 p.m.

Mazda has been pretty clear they want to move upmarket and I think an I6-powered sedan w RWD lines up with that push quite nicely.

mr2peak
mr2peak Dork
1/27/23 8:52 a.m.

Make it small and light and RWD, use an I6 with the same bolt pattern as a 13B-REW, put the engine mounts in the same place as a 4 rotor would end up, and let us live our dreams..

93EXCivic
93EXCivic MegaDork
1/27/23 10:01 a.m.
fidelity101 said:
j_tso said:

wasn't there also a rumor of Mazda working with Toyota on a sporty sedan? 

Will people complain if Toyota used a Mazda I6 instead of BMW's?

I think there are some growing partnerships here, the current north/south america yaris is the mazda2 made in mexico, the CX50 is built in a Toyota assembly plant in Alabama... 

Just to be clear the plant in Alabama is a joint venture part owned by both companies not a Toyota plant.

BoulderG
BoulderG New Reader
1/30/23 8:45 p.m.

It's being officially revealed tomorrow, but here are a few uncamouflaged advance photos from https://www.autoevolution.com/news/2024-mazda-cx-90-leak-reveals-its-body-in-great-detail-hours-before-the-official-launch-209476.html

Not a unique-looking vehicle at all, I'm sorry to say.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/30/23 9:03 p.m.

In reply to BoulderG :

Lovely shade of SUV red there too. 

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) Reader
1/31/23 1:46 p.m.

It was revealed today and I gotta say, I love this thing! I can totally see my wife upgrading to the CX70 (which is supposed to be a 2 row CX90) once she's done with her RAV4. The engine, the transmission, the upscale interior are a nice solid upgrade, assuming everything pans out.

Our Preferred Partners
DBkhswbak9VSjO68B6fVdpeTpZ6io35gjImqHUSFOivosl6yLs3OwHkOjsbVpW64