A New Six!

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The first person who took off his “mask” – it was always put that way, to emphasize the false possessive – or better yet, never put one on, in spite of the signs and the pressure – helped hasten the day when everyone else was free to take off their “masks.” 

Maybe what Mazda is doing will do the same. 

Hold onto you helmet, now. A new six is on deck. Not a new turbocharged 2.0 liter four (the engine that has been replacing sixes in almost everything; viz the 2023 Lexus RX350, which is now functionally the RX240 but is still called what it’s no longer got).

The six is straight, too – another thing that seems to be falling by the wayside.

But the take home point is Mazda is bringing out a new six – rather than retiring one. A 3.3 liter straight six will be the new standard powerplant in the 2024 CX-90, Mazda’s new rear-wheel-drive-based crossover SUV.

The latter also a change for the better in that it’s a change away from front-wheel-drive practically everything. Front-wheel-drive has its advantages, of course. It is helpful in the snow, for instance. But it is – fundamentally – an economy car layout. Not that there is anything wrong with economy cars. But it was once the case that average people regularly drove rear-drive cars that were similar-in-layout to the expensive cars driven by the affluent. This was once possible because rear-drive cars were once affordable. You could drive an economy car if you wanted to.

Not necessarily because you had to.

These rear-drive cars of the past also almost always came with at least a six. Often, a V8 engine was available, optionally. A good example – one of many – being a car like the Chevy Nova of the ’70s and also the Dodge Dart of the same era. These were not expensive cars but they were rear-wheel-drive and they came standard with a six cylinder engine; both offered V8s, too.

Today, there is nothing comparably laid-out that doesn’t cost at least $50,000. Well, with the exception – soon to no longer be one – of the Dodge Charger, which is being pushed off the market by the same people – the same government apparatchiks who tell us what we’re allowed to buy and how much we’ll be paying for it – who pushed cars like the Nova and Dart off the market. They did this via the extra-skulky means of out-regulating (as opposed to out-lawing) them.

The apparatchiks  – a term borrowed from Soviet Russia, which America is in process of becoming – somehow got the power to tell American car buyers that their next new car must average such-and-such miles-per-gallon. Those that didn’t could technically still be manufactured and offered for sale. But they were rendered more and more expensive to buy, via indirect taxes styled “gas guzzler” fines that were applied to the manufacturers and then passed along to buyers, who increasingly could not afford to pay them. Thus were rear-drive cars (and standard sixes) driven off the mass market, leaving a handful of such cars for the luxury-car market.

And even they have been shorn of their sixes, most of them.

There are only one or two models in the $40k price range that still come standard with them (the Lexus ES350 being a kind of last of the Mohicans) and most in the $50k prices range now come standard with . . . 2.0 liter turbocharged fours. This includes models like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, both of which used to always come standard with sixes. Now they’re options – and probably not for long.

The pressure to engine-geld is so great it affects even cars like that – meaning cars that are not inexpensive. Even with fours. 

Yet, somehow, Mazda is going to put a standard six in the new CX-90, which will reportedly sticker for less than $40k to start.       

This is an in-your-face to the “electrification” juggernaut – which is a kind of mopping-up operation of the apparatchik class that began the operation (against us) by decreeing – beginning back in the ’70s – how many miles-per-gallon the cars we’d be allowed to buy must deliver, no matter what it cost us. Emphasis on the latter to emphasize the fact that the apparat class makes us pay for what it wants. Which of course is to get most of us out of cars, ultimately. The gas-mileage decrees were merely a step toward that end. The next step was reframing harmless gasses as “emissions” – which was done because those wascally engineers had figured out how to make sixes use as little gas as fours – while emitting hardly anything that could be fairly characterized as a pollutant.

So, how does Mazda get away with bringing out a new six, making it standard – and selling it in a large (eight passenger) crossover SUV for less than $40k to start? Which by the way is thousands less than it costs to buy a compact-sized EeeeeeeeVeeeeee that seats four realistically and is realistically useful for short-distance driving only?

By hybridizing it. The new 3.3 liter in-line six uses as little gas as a 2.0 liter four by not using any gas at all sometimes. The engine cuts off when the CX-90 is coasting or not moving and comes back on when you need or want the 340 horsepower it makes. That figure by the way, is a bell-ringer in that it represents the strongest engine Mazda has ever made standard in a mass-produced model.

Mazda says – can you hear the glee – that the new six emits a “rewarding” exhaust note (something no EeeeeeeeVeeeee offers, except in simulated form) and manages “efficiency without compromising performance.”

Or costing so much that only a lucky affluent few will be able to enjoy it.

Maybe – just maybe – this is the re-start of the car business, which seems to be on the verge of going out of business due to lack of interest.

It appears Mazda doesn’t want to go out of business. And is interested in making interesting vehicles people might want to buy – and can afford to buy.

Maybe others will see what Mazda is doing and – fingers crossed – start doing the same.

. . .

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Eric,

    Just saw a video yesterday from the Shanghai auto show. One interesting thing was the variety of cars on display there. Something which used to be the case in the west – where now you dont even HEAR of an auto show…. The crazy thing is Porsches Cayane GTS (or something) while offered in China will not be offered in Europe – because of emissions ! Can you imagine… who are the commies now?!

  2. You know, I’m just leery of hybrids since they have large batteries, too, like the EV’s. Yes, I realize the batteries aren’t nearly as huge in a hybrid, but still wonder if they might have that tendency to catch on fire like an EV.

    • Hi Gary,

      A number of hybrids (Toyota models) use nickel metal hydride (rather than lithium-ion) battery packs in their hybrids. These have a 20 year track record of being both reliable and safe. I would not hesitate to buy a hybrid so equipped; they are the next best thing to a diesel.

  3. Internal combustion technologies will never be abandoned, just won’t happen.

    From a simple crankshaft for a one cylinder engine mounted on a lawnmower to a V-16 to a diesel-powered ship engine 20 feet long, the technology exists and can be used by melting aluminum and steel. What is done is a modern day phenomenon.

    Requires lots of know how, it’s all there, just have to apply the knowledge and it does make a world of difference.

    Interesting video on how an engine can rock.

  4. It’s been quite a while since Mazda has even offered a V6 in the US. Too bad the 6 sedan is discontinued here. That would have been a nice option for that as well as the CX-90.

    Did that diesel they were working on ever come out (I know it’s unlikely to get to the US)?

    The smaller automakers seem to be the ones that are avoiding electric as long as possible. They don’t have the R&D money that the big companies have to waste on electric. They have to realize there is no return (even on something that sells) and the money is lost forever. I was hoping Chrysler would be one of those companies, with it’s Hemi a big middle finger to the feds. At least Chrysler and Mazda are still trying to get away with at least some 6’s. Fours are too small for the majority of vehicles American buyers want.

    Eric, is that picture above the article the engine you are writing about? If it is, it looks like an engine that wouldn’t need one of those stupid plastic covers over it.

  5. Hoping the EPA will be put in its place and we can leave all this minimalist engine crap behind us. But here’s to Mazda and anyone else who can find ways around stupid govt edicts.

  6. As an export driven nation Japan understands one thing that “domestic” car makers don’t, South East Asia, Latin America, Australia, Africa, Middle East, India and Eastern Europe import cars …lots of them. And ALL of them don’t give a damn about what the EPA, WEF or Installed Brandon have to say. I would also venture to guess in all of these areas there are a handful of Tesla chargers all of which are located within a mile of a US Embassy. So maybe you can charge your EEEEVVVV in Mexico City, Dabai, Deli perhaps Nairobi or Warsaw otherwise you are out of luck. Mary Barra and others, are trying to outdo the marketing geniuses at Fox and Bud Lite in ruining a brand.

  7. With the way everyone else is committing to EVs and considering that they’re not quite ready for prime time, perhaps Mazda will be in position to be the last man standing! That would be good, because it means ICEVs will at least be available until I leave this planet…

  8. MX-6 to compete with the 370Z, Cayenne/Boxster, BMWM series. I wish they would come back to the IMSA series and compete in the GS Class.

  9. 1. What does it take to get the 6 in a Miata?
    2. Next, Mazda, while you are breaking rules, how about your Skyactive Diesel in the 3, 5, 6, and Miata?
    Give us low rev torque and lots of it.

  10. Well now you get to the rest, Guaranteed ASS and an automatic or worse a CVT. The price and engine size is pretty decent, Maybe hope for the darkness descending around us.

    • ASS is good in hybrid cars which have a powerful motor to start the engine. You don’t notice it, so hopefully that’s not so bad.

      Too bad manual transmissions are mostly dead, but kudos to Mazda for keeping them alive in the Miata.

  11. It seems that for whatever reason, the Japanese car companies, particularly Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru, have not implemented Elektrifikatsiya on a significant scale. Toyota, for example, sticks with its excellent hybrids, and Mazda is easily the BMW of the Land of the Rising Sun.

    This is noteworthy considering Japan is a leader in automotive technology and innovation.
    What does Japan know that the USA and Germany down not know…or worse, knows but doesn’t act on?

    Maybe that Elektrifikatsiya is a big nothing burger? Or that there are some possibly insurmountable obstacles in the way? Or maybe that Elektrifikatsiya won’t work to control the weather, but will work to control the people?

    We shall see.

    • >California bill would require EVs to be able to power the grid!!

      Straight outta Berzerkeley, of course.
      Obvious next step: a California bill that would require EVs to power the grid.
      Thought “your” EV was fully charged, using “your” solar cells?
      Guess again. The Lord Grid giveth, and the Lord Grid taketh away.
      You will own nothing… Try to be “happy.”

  12. Bye-bye, Bolt:

    ‘General Motors plans to end production of its electric Chevrolet Bolt models by the end of this year, CEO Mary Barra told investors Tuesday when discussing the company’s first-quarter earnings.

    ‘The Chevy Bolt EV and EUV, a larger version of the car, make up the vast majority of the company’s electric vehicle sales to date. However, their battery cells are an older design and chemistry than GM’s newer vehicles such as the GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq.

    ‘Barra said a suburban Detroit plant that has produced Bolt models since 2016 will be retooled in preparation for production of electric trucks scheduled for next year.’

    https://www.cnbc.com/2023/04/25/gm-bolt-ev-production-to-end-later-this-year.html

    What is EeeVee Mary telling us — that it’s not profitable to make low-end EeeVees; only upscale Hummers and Lyriqs and giant trucks that sell for high five figures?

    An engineer might suppose that updating the Bolt’s battery chemistry within the existing envelope shouldn’t be a big deal. But engineers don’t run GM no more, despite EeeVee Mary having a BSEE.

    I contend that EeeVee Mary is gonna steer GM into Chapter 11 by next year, making a 15-year run since GM’s last crack-up which resulted in fedgov jewel wasps hijacking its brain and munching it into mush. So bad; so sad.

    • EeeVee Mary isn’t concerned with bankruptcy. She is a model Corporatist in favor with the Regime and will be showered with a “Monopoly” money bailout. The term Monopoly money will apply to the Dollar after it is dislodged from its status as a World Reserve Currency and relegated to worthless.

      • The dollar will remain the least bad option until they stop grading on the curve.

        They say money doesn’t grow on trees, and that’s correct. “Paper” money is actually mostly cotton. And who picks cotton? Slaves.

    • High five figures? Try low six.

      GM and Ford just want to make garage queens now.

      Even Mavericks I see running around town have the priciest trim options.

  13. Looks like Mazda will be positioned for some great sales numbers once a critical mass of fools realize EV’s are a scam. By then most other automakers will have stopped producing IC engines and be up the creek without a paddle. I do wonder what govco’s reaction will be to Mazda’s temerity, probably already looking for ways to outregulate it.

  14. ‘The six is straight, too.’ — eric

    Mind if I call it a hetero six?

    Though afflicted with V8 envy as a kid, in looking back it’s the straight sixes that linger in memory.

    One was in a Chevy pickup whose stovebolt six idled so preternaturally smoothly that one could not perceive whether it was running or not.

    Another was a rumbling 4.2 liter straight six in a Jaguar E-type — a macho, bad ass, four-on-the-floor ride that destroyed my notion of British vehicles as econoboxes like the Mini Cooper with lawn mower sized 10-inch (not a typo) wheels.

    Today, Stellantis makes a 3.0 liter Hurricane I-6. But my question about both the Hurricane six and the new Mazda six is whether they will be offered in any vehicle I would want to buy. Since I only drive manuals (a personal boundary that I don’t yield on), the answer so far is a resounding ‘no.’

    Don’t need no stinkin’ chips … don’t need no stinkin’ slush boxes.

  15. I don’t watch a lot of teeeeveeee but when it’s on, there’s a ridiculous amount of advertising from Mercedes Benz on their new electric appliance. A smart adman from Mazda would lampoon the electric vehicle nonsense.

    OT: has anyone seen / know anything about the Liquid Piston adaptation of the Wankel engine? Mazda led the charge on Wankel engines –which apparently had some issues.

  16. This is good news – especially on the heels of Toyota’s changing of the guard at the top and forcing out the only OEM top executive who spoke the truth about the impact changing to 100% BEVs would have on the emerging markets.

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