New Mazda 3 Will Debut in LA With Holy Grail Skyactiv-X Engine

Photo: Mazda
Photo: Mazda

Mazda just confirmed that the new Mazda 3, with its fancy Spark Controlled Compression Ignition Engine called Skyactiv-X, will debut at the LA Auto Show in about three weeks. And it will be a mild hybrid, according to Automotive News Europe.

The Skyactiv-X engine works by using a process that Mazda calls Spark Controlled Compression Ignition—essentially a spark plug lighting off a localized rich mixture of fuel and air to create a fireball that compresses the lean mixture throughout the rest of the cylinder, yielding spontaneous ignition. It’s a fascinating concept that promises the efficiency of a diesel engine, but with far lower emissions, and it’s finally making its way into a production car.

In Los Angeles on Nov. 28, Mazda’s showing off the all-new Mazda 3, which will get new styling based on Mazda’s KODO design language (see Mazda’s teaser above), and will ride on an all-new platform that promises improved driver comfort, among other changes over the outgoing car.

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But the big difference is the engine, which will be the first mass-produced production gasoline compression engine on the market. I had a chance to drive a prototype Mazda 3 with this Skyactiv-X engine and found it to feel fairly normal in most conditions, though I did notice some knocking under some conditions.

Illustration for article titled New Mazda 3 Will Debut in LA With Holy Grail Skyactiv-X Engine

But Mazda plans to refine the rough edges of the engine using a motor generator unit like the one shown above, with Automotive News Europe writing:

Mazda CEO Akira Marumoto, talking about the car here ahead of its unveiling, said the strategy is to mate the Skyactiv-X engine to a mild-hybrid system. Marshaling the electric motor’s power-assist ability will ensure linear acceleration and spirited driving, Marumoto said.

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“Skyactiv-X is a very efficient engine in the first place, so we don’t need a full hybrid. Mild hybrid is good enough,” Marumoto said. “And by using the mild-hybrid system, linear driving dynamics can be pursued as well.”

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The news source cites Marumoto as stating that the new Mazda 3 will get the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G found in the current lineup, as well as the Skyactiv-X engine, which will be a 2.0-liter mild hybrid, and will “be positioned as the higher grade.” Marumoto also allegedly told the site that the Skyactiv-X-equipped car will have the same driving dynamics of the 2.5-liter, but it will offer the fuel economy of a 1.5-liter diesel.

“The arrival of all-new Mazda 3 marks the beginning of a whole new generation of Mazda cars,” Mazda says in its press release.

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I’m excited to see how this thing turned out, and how the company improved the prototype I drove in August of last year. More importantly, I’m interested in seeing the official EPA fuel economy figures, which I assume won’t be out until well after the car’s debut.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me. Cars: Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94), Chrysler Voyager Diesel ('94)

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DISCUSSION

ash78
Ash78, voting early and often

Holy Grail Skyactiv-X Engine

Questions:

  • Is it lighter than a duck, or perhaps a very small rock?
  • When it dies, will the MFD show “ARGHHH” or will the car just make the noise?
  • How does its velocity compare to the airspeed of an unladen swallow?