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Mazda Ditches V-6, Goes Four-Cylinder, Keeps Rotary Engines

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2013 Mazda CX-5

2013 Mazda CX-5

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It's all change at Mazda for the next generation of its engine and product lines.

The CX-7 SUV and 6-cylinder engines are out, and a wave of efficient Skyactiv engines, light-weight cars and an improved line of rotary engines is in.

Robert Davis, senior vice president of U.S. Operations at Mazda, confirmed the changes with Car and Driver. The most significant news is that rotaries are here to stay, which may come as a surprise given the engine's well-known limitations such as fuel economy and high-maintenance.

The key will apparently be Skyactiv technology. Having improved gasoline and diesel engines significantly, the same techniques can be applied to rotary units.

That means reducing internal friction, reducing rotary mass, and more efficient transmissions. As well as rotaries powering the next generation of Mazda sports car, the company is considering the Audi approach--using the units as a range-extender. This is where the engine's unique selling point--smoothness--is advantageous.

The CX-7 crossover won't be replaced in the U.S, as Mazda feels the CX-5 does its job just as well, while being more efficient. The CX-5 features efficient Skyactiv units, and offers some of the best fuel economy in its class, with 35 mpg possible in highway driving--from a naturally-aspirated gasoline engine.

Other than the news that the next Miata will be lighter and Skyactiv-propelled, the other announcement is that Mazda is ditching the V-6 engines found in the Mazda6 and CX-9. The next Mazda6 will be four-cylinder only, with turbocharged versions expected. A similar route will be taken by the next CX-9 SUV.

All that means that Mazda's upcoming model ranges could prove to be some of the cleanest and most efficient in their class--while still offering that "Zoom-Zoom" that buyers have become used to.

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