On ICE: Mazda's Skyactiv-X Wonder Engine Isn't in a Hurry to Get Stateside

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
on ice mazdas skyactiv x wonder engine isnt in a hurry to get stateside

Much-touted engines seem to take a while to arrive in North America, at least when it comes to Mazda. To the brand’s credit, those engines, at least in the case of the Skyactiv-D diesel, do eventually make it to these shores — though many wonder whether Mazda should have even bothered.

The Skyactiv-X is a different beast than its diesel counterpart. With this engine, Mazda promises increased power and greatly increased efficiency, all thanks to the engine’s novel combination of gasoline and diesel combustion elements. Journalists were offered a test drive over a year ago, but when the next-generation Mazda 3 appeared earlier this year, the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-X was nowhere to be seen. What gives?

Mazda claims the new engine, said to improve fuel economy by 20 to 30 percent over a regular 2.0-liter, passes all U.S. emissions regulations, but customers will have to wait.

TTAC’s Corey Lewis, a die-hard Mazda fan who can’t keep the brand’s cars out of his driveway, asked about the engine’s absence during a recent test drive of the all-wheel drive 3 sedan and hatch. “The only commitment representatives made was that the engine would be available in the European market later in 2019,” he wrote.

Speaking at a recent Detroit conference, Mazda North American Operations CEO Masahiro Moro implied that the Skyactiv-X’s arrival is not imminent.

“Skyactiv-X is on our road map going forward,” Moro said the SAE International WCX conference, as reported by Automotive News. “We have a lot of technology. And we are introducing each technology in each region when the time is right.”

Despite the company being a fan of mid-year upgrades, it’s looking extremely doubtful that Mazda’s Spark Controlled Compression Ignition engine will make an appearance this model year. As it stands, the revamped 3 offers just one engine — the brand’s carryover 2.5-liter, good for 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Canadian customers still have access to the old 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G mill (155 hp, 150 lb-ft), as well as a wider selection of manual transmission choice.

Moro said his company’s current focus is on a 2.0-liter of a different nature, this one also bound for the compact 3.

“Customers are looking for good power from a sophisticated and reliable engine. Right now, we are expanding Skyactiv-G,” he said, adding that the engine boasts a 14:1 compression ratio, the highest of any gasoline-powered car. The existing Skyactiv-G has a 13:1 compression ratio, while the Skyactiv-X boasts a 16:1 ratio.

[Images: Corey Lewis/TTAC, Mazda]

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  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Apr 26, 2019

    Skyactiv-X.... diesel... all the money and resources wasted on these technologies could have been spent on a proven efficiency booster: Good old hybrid technology. On average hybridization adds about 200lbs to a car's curb weight, so that would kind of suck. But that's 200lbs that lowers the CoG significantly and is a guaranteed 30-40% fuel economy boost. Probably more with Mazda's ingenuity. They already have a partnership with Toyota... why not use it? Skyactiv-X def tickled my engineer brain but their reluctance to bring it out triggers my NY skepticism. We are deep into the realm of diminishing returns with the ICE and should def start looking at electrification as a more normal means of reducing emissions.

  • Jtk Jtk on Apr 26, 2019

    They should stop making esoteric engines and focus on improving their dealer experience. I like my Mazda but I probably won't buy another one because the dealer that's near me is just horrendous.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
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