Sunday 21 October 2018

Mazda ready to deliver a combustible new idea

Japanese maker sees a future in petrol and is rethinking its engines, writes Martin Brennan

NEW MODEL: The Kai concept car inspires the new Mazda 3
NEW MODEL: The Kai concept car inspires the new Mazda 3

We have all heard of crossover vehicles - now comes the crossover engine.

The buzzword may be electric but Mazda believes there is life left in the internal combustion engine. The Japanese engineers are poised to bring diesel technology into petrol engines to boost fuel efficiency and performance.

Mazda has always gone it alone with its Skyactiv approach to lightweight design and engineering. Now it is set to launch a Skyactiv engine, the Skyactiv-X, to comply with stricter emission laws.

This petrol engine combines conventional technology with compression engineering as used in diesel engines. A diesel engine has no spark plug - ignition comes from compression of the fuel/air mixture in the cylinders. In the Skyactiv-X engine, Mazda uses Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, a combination of compression and spark plug to ignite a higher air to fuel mixture to boost power while using less fuel. The result is a very efficient lean burn with fewer emissions.

Mazda uses a supercharged 2-litre petrol engine to produce 180bhp and 230Nm of torque which will also benefit from a mild hybrid add-on when the engine goes into full production. The engine is still in development but at a pre-launch event in Portugal it proved to be very responsive with a good low down torque.

The engine was fitted to a Mazda 3 body and on the move there was lots of power on tap, and a lot less gear changing even at low speeds compared with the 2-litre Skyactiv-G engine. Mazda engineers claim that the engine, when fully configured, will give unprecedented response and have an increase in torque by 10-30pc and a fuel consumption improvement of more than 20pc. "Skyactiv-X will even equal or exceed that latest Skyactiv-D Diesel engine in fuel efficiency," a company spokesman claimed.

Mazda points out that a mid-sized electric car consumes around 20 kilowatt-hours of electricity per 100km. Production of this power with coal translates into Co2 emissions of 200g/km, with petrol, 156g/km and with LPG, 100g/km.

The five-year engine project will be first seen in a Mazda 3 at the Tokyo Motor Show next year.

A prototype for a new Mazda 3 will use features drawn from the Kai concept car.

Sunday Independent

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