The CX-9’s Turbo-Four Fits in the 3 and 6, But Will Mazda Do It?

Turbo SkyActiv engine
Turbo SkyActiv engine | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

One of the first questions we asked Mazda’s engineers when we attended the first drive event for the all-new CX-9 was if its 2.5-liter motor would fit in any other Mazda chassis on the market today. This was after a long day of plowing around town in the vehicle, and experiencing all of the joy its potent four-banger had to offer.

It’s been a while since we last saw a turbocharged Mazda on sales floors, and since this motor is both compact and potent, there’s a strong chance that it will one day wind up in another chassis or two. Over dinner I asked about the vehicle the engineering team had been eyeing, and was told that there had been talk in the past of taking the snubby CX-3 subcompact CUV and test fitting an engine in one to see how things lined up. That statement has so far gone unsubstantiated, but it’s kind of fun to think about.

Mazda CX-9
2017 Mazda CX-9 | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

While clearance issues and engine mount locations were not a major concern, one engineer said that simple maintenance worries could pose a problem on that particular chassis, and things like oil changes would not be easy. He went on to explain that ever since the turbocharged Skyactiv engine was first given a green light for installation in the CX-9, the entire engineering team was waiting for an opportunity to swap it into other vehicles.

But talking about it and making it happen are two totally different things. Last we heard, there was no major headway in this direction because of the company-wide focus on the successful launch of the CX-9. Nevertheless, there was one glimmer of hope that was thrown my way toward the end of the evening, and it was encapsulated by one word: SEMA.

2016 Mazda3
2016 Mazda3 | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

While all the bean counters and product planners continue to consider if this is a worthy venture or not, the engineering team might get a chance to exercise its skills in building something sporty to showcase at SEMA this year. Mazda has been on a roll for the past few years, winning awards left and right for its quality and design, so bringing turbo power to a segment that already craves it only sounds befitting.

This would also give the automaker the ability to showcase its engineering prowess on one of the largest aftermarket automotive stages in the world, a low-risk arena to gauge consumer interest before committing to a production run. Mazda has some of the best drivers’ cars in the world as it is; its commitment to driving excellence and a rebirth of the MazdaSpeed program would instantly catapult the brand to the forefront of many of the world’s performance segments.

2016 Mazda6 GT
2016 Mazda6 GT | Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

But there still has yet to be any confirmation on what the future holds for this powertrain, so we can only hope and wait. It would be great to see the stout little Mazda3 with 310 foot-pounds of torque, or the triumphant return of the Mazdaspeed6 to take on Ford’s new Fusion Sport, but Mazda has indicated that it’s staying the course for the time being.

It makes sense for Mazda to follow this path too since it doesn’t offer a V6 or a turbo four-cylinder version in the regular 6 sedan, leaving it at a disadvantage when faced with the rest of the segment. So while the Mazda3 would make for a fun little turbo hot hatch, the 6 would stand strong with the CX-9’s motor as a V6 substitute.