Mazda has always been known to be lean quite heavily on the side of providing engaging driving experiences regardless of where any particular car sits in their hierarchy and throughout the years their customers have come to expect even more of that Jinba-Ittai quality with every new generation.
Taken in totality, while their newest range of cars are, arguably, the most driver-focused products in the company’s history and are perhaps some of the most dynamically endowed among their competitors, the Hiroshima-based automaker will need to embark on more deeply rooted changes to make marked improvements.
For example, their current line-up of cars, more casually referred to as the SkyActiv generation, have all been (mostly) front-wheel driven and powered by four-cylinder engines. This combination have helped it gain efficiency and scalability points, no doubt, but aren’t necessarily the best building blocks for dynamics and a thrilling drive experience.
To remedy this, Mazda seems to have some dramatic plans brewing for the next-generation of cars, as detailed in a leaked document that outlines this roadmap that leads all the way to the year 2025 and beyond. As explained by Jalopnik, in its ambition to become a proper premium marque, the company plans to introduce a new rear-wheel drive platform as well as a new family of inline six-cylinder engines.
The new “Large Architecture” hinted at a longitudinal engine layout and could also conceivably work with their existing engine line-up. Crucially, this means that power will be send rearward which portends a future Mazda6 that could pose a proper threat to the likes of, say, a BMW 5 Series.
The new platform will also allow for all-wheel drive to be optional and will primarily be used to accommodate their straight-6 high compression SkyActiv petrol and diesel engines currently being developed. Whether or not these new mills will incorporate forced induction as well as Mazda’s SkyActiv-X sparkless compression ignition technology is yet to be known, but every car will most likely feature a 48-volt electrical architecture, categorising them as mild-hybrids.
More intriguingly, this rear-wheel drive architecture sets the stage for the much anticipated return of a flagship high performance coupe from Mazda, much along the lines of the RX Vision concept first shown in late 2015, despite the fact that the company’s rotary engine plans will have to fall to the wayside.
With the maturation of the Kodo design language, a consistently premium cabin and ride, and now the revelation that the momentum of these qualities will be further enhanced by a new line of six-cylinder engines and a platform designed from the ground up to be luxury-oriented and rear-wheel driven, there’s every chance that Mazda will succeed in becoming Japan’s next premium automaker.