Friday 18 October 2019

Mazda's Skyactiv-X tech sparks the imagination

Can Mazda offer a new future for petrol and diesel engines

Stylish: Skyactiv-X are marked out by metallic black alloys
Stylish: Skyactiv-X are marked out by metallic black alloys

Geraldine Herbert

At a time when most car makers are ditching the development of new internal combustion engines (ICE), Mazda are saying yes to investing in petrol and diesel engines and are launching a new take on the lean concept with their revolutionary Skyactiv-X engine. So could this new technology help prolong petrol and even the much-maligned diesel engine?

On paper, what Mazda has achieved is certainly impressive. Using what they call 'Spark Controlled Compression Ignition' technology, the engine promises to combine the best of petrol with the economy of a diesel. This is achieved by using a new technique that allows the engine to switch seamlessly between conventional spark ignition and diesel-like compression ignition combustion.

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According to Mazda, the benefits of this are the performance of a petrol engine combined with the fuel efficiency, torque and response of a diesel. In fact, Mazda claims up to 20pc better fuel economy and under the new stricter WLTP test, the new engine returns 5.6 litres per 100km or 50mpg. Despite achieving 180ps, it emits just 102g/km and has an annual motor tax figure of €190.

On the road, the Mazda3 is one of the better hatchbacks to drive, it's fun with precise steering and great road-holding. We tested the Skyactiv-X variant on a mixture of urban and rural roads on the outskirts of Sofia. Over pothole-strewn Bulgarian roads, it coped well and was nicely refined but feels really no different from the regular Mazda3. Fuel efficiency, however, was less than impressive, and over a 100km combined cycle we managed only 8.2 litres, but it is possible that an extended test drive might have reaped more encouraging results. We reserve final judgment until we test it on Irish roads for longer. In showrooms now, prices start from €30,495 for the manual Mazda3 Sport and the Skyactiv-X powered Mazda3 is also available with an automatic transmission.

Interestingly, Mazda may argue that there are more ways to reduce emissions than simply switching to electric cars, but it seems they have finally embraced electric mobility and are set to unveil their first all-electric car next month in Tokyo. It will be launched next year.

Sunday Independent

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