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With the recent announcement of the new Mazda 3 Skyactiv X for 2020, you’d be forgiven for immediately thinking that it’s got some big shoes to fill. The popularity of the current of Mazda 3 generation speaks volumes in itself - a family hatchback with excellent fuel economy that actually looks good and kept all the joy of driving a Mazda. That’s without mentioning the current Skyactiv G and Skyactiv D technology that allows them to be such a great performance cars without being gas guzzlers.
While the design for the 2020 Mazda 3 hasn’t changed much at all from the current model, the inside is set to have some huge changes with the introduction of the Mazda 3 Skyactiv X. In an industry dominated by a shift towards alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles that often lack the torque of their combustion counterparts – Mazda have stepped out solo to invest in innovation for traditional combustion engines.
…and it looks like it might have all paid off, as they’re the first car manufacturer ever to manage to productionise a compression ignition for a petrol engine. In laymen’s terms – they’ve made a petrol engine that acts like a diesel. As in strong petrol performance with diesel level fuel economy and torque. With the suffering diesel cars have been going through in recent years, if you’re not ready to make the switch to sometimes lacklustre hybrid and electric equivalents - the Mazda 3 Skyactiv X might just be your holy grail.
Skyactiv as a Mazda concept began way back in 2011. Mazda Skyactiv is the brand name for Mazda technology which focuses on increasing fuel efficiency and engine output.
In their own words, its performance and efficiency without compromise. There’s a distinct focus on the joy of driving alongside efficiency, as opposed to solely focusing on environmental impact. Skyactiv X got announced back in 2017 and Mazda have spent the past 2 years fine tuning it to the engine you’ll see in the 2020 Mazda 3 Skyactiv X soon.
Skyactiv technology isn’t just the engine (although it’s a considerable part of it), it bleeds down into the vehicle architecture to keep it both lightweight and rigid. As well as the inner workings like transmission, i-Eloop regenerative braking system and i-stop fuel saving stop start system to name just a few.
In the current Mazda 3, there’s a variety of engine sizes available in Skyactiv G and Skyactiv D. Skyactiv G is a high compression direct injection petrol engine with special combustion geometry which produces minimal harmful emissions and is incredibly efficient. While Skyactiv D is an extremely low compression diesel engine that’s excellent for both low emissions and fuel economy under real life driving conditions. It’s also another first of its kind to be produced commercially by Mazda… so in reality we shouldn’t be surprised that they came up with Mazda 3 Skyactiv X to follow.
If it sounds futuristic, it’s because it absolutely is. It’s taken Mazda years of investment and research to bring this engine to the commercial market. Mazda Skyactiv X is the very first of its kind and it’s unique to the market – a commercial petrol engine which uses compression ignition. Skyactiv X engines use SPCCI (Spark Controlled Compression Ignition) to combine the fuel effiency of a diesel engine and diesel-like torque with the power and responsiveness of a petrol engine.
The Mazda 3 Skyactiv X is claiming a lot of seriously impressive figures including 52.3mpg, 180ps and just 96g of CO2/km among others. These numbers were measured in the WLPT cycle, and they vary depending on the exact model due to transmission, wheel size and so on.
The Mazda 3 won’t be the only Mazda car to feature Skyactiv X, but it will be the first of the Mazda range to feature it. It’s due to land October 2019 and we’ll have the Mazda 3 Skyactiv X to lease just as soon as we can get our hands on it!
A more in-depth explanation for the petrol heads, this revolutionary technology is actually pretty straightforward. SPCCI, which we mentioned above, allows the engine to switch between a conventional spark ignition and compression ignition – using a leaner fuel to air mix for the latter meaning it combusts more efficiently.
Describing it as leaner doesn’t really do the difference justice. For comparison – the Skyactiv air to petrol ratio is 40:1 when running in SPCCI mode, while a normal petrol engine mixes at a ratio of 14.7:1.
The fuel air mix is compressed to an extremely high pressure within the engine cylinder. Then a spark ignites a small amount of fuel to further raise the pressure and heat within the cylinder which causes the remaining fuel to ignite under pressure – just like in a diesel. The fuel burns faster and more completely, giving much better performance and much lower emissions than in a conventional engine.
What makes the Mazda 3 Skyactiv X - and Skyactiv X in general - so unique is Mazda are one of the only manufacturer’s focusing on innovating the current fuel technology we use, which is a rarity in the current climate of the motor industry where manufacturers are focused on re-inventing established classics into electric vehicle equivalents – like the Volkswagen ID Buzz or the Ford Mustang EV.
While Mazda certainly aren’t ignoring alternative energy technologies, as showcased by their impressed EV for 2020, they are offering viable alternatives to those not ready to make the jump just yet. If you’re a driver who still can’t picture changing their driving style to suit a hybrid car or you still suffer range anxiety from electric vehicles, the Mazda 3 Skyactiv X might be the low emission, high fuel economy solution to suit your driving needs.
If you just can’t wait until its release to get your hands on a Mazda 3, we’ve got a great range of current Mazda 3 lease deals available online or at a Stoneacre Mazda dealership near you.
23rd of August 2019