Mazda might soon be spurred to fit a turbocharger to its SkyActiv four-cylinder gasoline engine in order to power the next generation CX-9.
Forced induction is on the table for Mazda according to Mazda head of global sales Masahiro Moro, who spoke to Australia’s CarAdvice during the New York Auto Show. The company is plotting a replacement to its seven-seat crossover, but that will call for finally leaving behind the Ford-sourced V6 powering the current car.
The current-generation Mazda6 abandoned its previous V6 and was supposed to be offered with a four-cylinder turbo diesel in its place. Despite that, Mazda has yet to roll out its diesel mid-size sedan. Moro said the market for diesel-powered vehicles is too small to justify saddling the next CX-9, which is sold primarily in the U.S., with an oil burner.
Globally, Mazda markets its its vehicles with a diesel powetrain, but the company is struggling to meet emissions standards while maintaining satisfactory engine performance. The new version, which will ride on Mazda’s flexible SkyActive platform is expected to arrive in 2016. In the meantime, Mazda is saddled with finding a feasible engine to power its bulkiest model.
Opinions among Mazda’s senior management seem divided about what path to take. Moro said he sees turbocharging as a cost-effective way to offer V6 power, but also suggested that Mitsuo Hitomi, the company’s top powertrain engineer, thinks turbocharging will be more expensive for Mazda than offering a larger engine with more cylinders.
Moro admitted that a six-cylinder engine is inevitable for the brand as it tries to move into more premium market segments. The company also hasn’t decided if it will use a V cylinder configuration or a straight six. Moro suggested that the engine isn’t coming any time soon, saying the brand doesn’t have a vehicle to suit that sort of engine yet.
That would seem to suggest that turbocharging is a better option for Mazda to immediately address its impending need for a more powerful engine. The naturally aspirated 2.5-liter SkyACtiv four-cylinder gasoline engine currently makes 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, which almost 100 hp short of the 3.7-liter V6 used in the current CX-9.
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