In an investor report published last year, Mazda confirmed that it would develop six-cylinder engines that will be used in cars underpinned by a new and larger architecture. It appears that plan is well and truly on track, as the carmaker has secured patents for a new inline-six engine, as reported by Super.Asurada.

The carmaker has previously stated there would be petrol and diesel versions of its new six-cylinder engines, with the former being a SkyActiv-X unit with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI), while the latter is part of its second-generation SkyActiv-D diesel engines.

However, that’s not the only patent that Mazda submitted, as there’s also another for an eight-speed automatic transmission, which seems to be more production-ready than the company’s previous patents.

The inline-six engine and eight-speed gearbox could be used in upcoming models as part of Mazda’s next-generation vehicle line-up, which includes the introduction of mild-hybrid systems (M Hybrid) and an evolution of the company’s Kodo design language. Currently, there are two models that are part of this revamped range, which are the Mazda 3 and CX-30.

Rumours indicate the new Mazda 6 could be the first to adopt the new engine and transmission, with the sedan also said to make the switch from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive. Others claim the powertrain will be used in an unconfirmed successor to the RX-8 – dubbed the RX-9 – which if true, will shatter the dreams of those hoping for a new rotary-powered sports car.

Mazda has yet to confirm if any of the above would become a reality, but given that the Japanese carmaker recently reached its 100th anniversary on January 30 this year, could a surprise birthday present be on the way? Only time will tell.