Over the last few years, rumours surrounding Mazda have often focused on two things – the rotary engine's return and the launch of inline-six engines. Neither are well-kept secrets at this point, with the rotary returning in early 2022. However, the start of production of its inline-six engines has been a mystery until now. A new Nikkei Asia report says that the automaker will begin producing inline-six-powered cars in early 2022.

The report cites "Mazda-affiliated parts makers" as the source of the production date. According to Nikkei's sources, production of those vehicles will begin at the company's Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture factory early next year. Rumours continue to note that the mill will be offered in petrol, diesel, and Skyactiv-X variants. The early 2022 date is notable because it was believed that the new mills wouldn't arrive until after 2022, powering new rear-wheel-drive vehicles.

Gallery: 2020 Mazda CX-30: Review

Mazda is working to develop large and small product categories, according to the report, with large products including SUVs. Two will succeed the CX-5 and CX-8, though the publication notes that Mazda is likely to continue offering all four. A November report suggested that the next-gen CX-5 would go premium to compete against the likes of Mercedes and BMW and get a new name – the CX-50. It'd offer the company's new inline-six engines with 3.0- and 3.3-litre displacements, which Nikkei's report corroborates.

Mazda is a small automaker in a rapidly changing industry. Sales have stayed consistent over the last decade, with 2020 closing up 0.2 percent over 2019. MX-5 sales were up 13.6 percent. However, the competition will only increase, and Mazda is best trying to position itself for that reality. The inline-six engine's introduction is paired with the company's shift toward offering rear-wheel drive for sportier driving dynamics. It's unclear when we'll see Mazda's new inline-six models, though there have been rumours that Mazda won't reveal any new products until 2022.