When it was rumors and innuendo, when it was delayed, when it was confirmed but unattainable, when it was launched, when it was actually under the hood of a vehicle we could drive on this continent, we’ve covered the story of Mazda’s diesel engine.
It’s a 2.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a measly 168 horsepower but a stirring 290 lb-ft of stump-pulling torque. It resides not in the Mazda 6 for which it was originally intended but rather the highly acclaimed Mazda CX-5. It’s available only in the CX-5’s top-spec Signature trim, and only then at a $4,110 premium that drives the price up to an eye-watering $41,000. Its fuel economy gains are so minimal that the economic case for the CX-5 diesel is nonexistent.
And after one model year and just enough demand to help (in some small way) propel the CX-5 to yet another record sales year, the Mazda CX-5 diesel is missing. Truant. Unaccounted for.
Moreover, there’s no timetable for the CX-5 diesel’s return.
Mazda’s promised diesel-powered CX-5 is now open for pre-order in the United States, years after we began chronicling the Skyactiv-D’s lethargic march to North America.
TTAC’s coverage of Mazda diesel delays goes back nearly six years, when the future of Mazda’s Skyactiv-D was linked to a future Mazda 6. It was a story that received more attention in 2014. Eventually, in late 2016, there was confirmation of a Mazda CX-5 diesel. Arrival date: second half of 2017.
By the second half of 2017, however, the timing of the diesel CX-5’s arrival was unknown. Fast forward past a promising NHTSA filing, then a CARB certification, and then the release of EPA fuel economy ratings to the 2019 New York International Auto Show.
The Mazda CX-5 Signature AWD Diesel is ready, Mazda insists. But at $42,045, there’s simply no reason for its existence in America.
We’ve been talking about the Mazda CX-5 diesel for a long time, and with good reason. It’s been a long time coming. Originally promised for a U.S. introduction in the second half of 2017, a quick scan of of Mazda’s consumer website reveals no mention of a popular compact crossover with a 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D four-cylinder under the hood.
This could soon change. The California Air Resources Board has certified the engine for sale in that ecologically sensitive state, making a similar thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency a near certainty.
Mazda announced 11 months ago that the company “will introduce a diesel engine option to the North American market,” with the revamped CX-5, launched in the 2017 model year.
We’d heard such claims before. Three years ago, we were still waiting on the launch of the diesel-powered Mazda 6, at least until Mazda gave up on that idea. But Mazda’s insistence this time around produced less doubt. Mazda even revealed that the automaker felt it could generate 10 percent of CX-5 sales with the diesel model.
But last month, we began to wonder about Mazda’s claims of delivering a 2017 Mazda CX-5 Diesel in the second-half of 2017. The second-half, as you may have noticed, is quickly drawing to a close. Moreover, Mazda wouldn’t offer up any timing, saying only that, “We are working with the EPA and CARB and will have more information in the future.”
Mazda still won’t offer up any timing details. But TTAC’s resident government filing investigator, Bozi Tatarevic, came across some very interesting details at NHTSA.gov that reaffirm the forthcoming 2018 Mazda CX-5 Diesel.
The potential for success is limited, but Mazda nevertheless announced in Los Angeles in November 2016 that the revamped 2017 Mazda CX-5 would be available with a 2.2-liter diesel torque monster.
Diesel? 2017? The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal that broke in late 2015 ended diesel’s run at Volkswagen of America and eventually ended with the withdrawal of diesel engines in Mercedes-Benz USA’s lineup, as well.
Yet diesel persists. General Motors, for example, is selling diesel variants of the Chevrolet Cruze and Equinox and the Equinox’s GMC Terrain sibling. And with Mazda’s decision to sell a 310-lb-ft diesel CX-5, compact crossover shoppers would have three choices.
Mazda said last year that “it will offer the Skyactiv-D 2.2 clean diesel engine in the all-new Mazda CX-5 for North America from the second half of 2017.”
Only half of the second half remains, and MazdaUSA.com still lists the 2017 CX-5 Diesel as a future vehicle. So where’s the 2017 Mazda CX-5 Diesel we were promised?
Diesel power has traditionally proved a tough sell in the United States, at least among light-vehicle buyers. If it doesn’t belong on a worksite, chances are a vehicle’s engine choices have remained gasoline-only since the model’s debut.
While the high-mileage technology suffered a black, sooty eye from the Volkswagen affair, several automakers are gambling on Americans want of higher torque figures and improved fuel economy — the rosy promises of diesel motivation. Mazda, the only automaker without a hybrid or electric vehicle in its stable, plans to add a diesel CX-5 to its gas-only U.S. fleet later this year.
The automaker knows exactly how many it wants Americans to buy. If this litmus test on wheels reaches the pre-determined mark, expect to see more zoom-zoom diesels appearing in local showrooms.
My, how time flies. Nearly half a decade has passed since Mazda, undoubtedly an automaker that believes in performance, last offered a Mazdaspeed product.
Not since 2004 and 2005, when 5,142 Mazdaspeed MX-5s were delivered in the United States market, has Mazda’s most obvious performance car been available in a power-up version.
Not since the first-generation Mazda 6’s 2005/2006 Mazdaspeed tenure has Mazda’s midsize sedan been offered in performance guise.
And after following up one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars of its era, the Mazdaspeed Protege, with the Mazdaspeed3 in 2007 and another in 2010, Mazda hasn’t had a hot hatch contender to battle the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R, Ford’s ST and RS models, the Honda Civic Si (and now Type R), the Subaru WRX, and Mini’s Cooper S since 2013.
So, is Mazdaspeed dead?
Chevrolet won’t be the only automaker attempting to woo former Volkswagen TDI owners with a diesel-powered compact crossover. Mazda North America confirmed this afternoon the soon-coming availability of a 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder in the thoroughly refreshed 2017 Mazda CX-5.
Thought to be a sure bet before major setbacks seemed to become insurmountable impediments, we reported earlier this week that the reveal of a new CX-5 would include a diesel engine. Then, in press releases from both Mazda USA and Mazda Canada last night, the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D was included in the list of otherwise carryover powertrains offered.
Today, at a press conference not 24 hours after a design-oriented reveal of the 2017 CX-5, Mazda made it clear. Consider it confirmed, validated, and verified. Mazda’s best-selling model is about to gain 68 percent more torque.
Nearly five years after the first Mazda CX-5 became an instantaneous success for Mazda North America, the automaker has revamped its best seller. Revealed on the eve of the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2017 Mazda CX-5 should have little trouble capitalizing on the momentum created by the oft-praised crossover.
In 36 of the last 45 months, year-over-year CX-5 volume has increased, a striking achievement given the Mazda brand’s struggles to earn mainstream market share in the United States. Mazda brand sales are down 8 percent in the U.S. this year.
But the CX-5 is another story; the bright light at a brand where the midsize car is ignored, the biggest and smallest crossovers are niche products, the compact is fast fading, the subcompact and minivan have both been extinguished, and the most famous product is the brand’s least common product.
Tonight’s 2017 Mazda CX-5 reveal is hugely important to Mazda, as nearly four-in-ten sales in Mazda’s U.S. showrooms are generated by the brand’s surprisingly fun to drive CR-V fighter.
Mazda is remaining tight-lipped, but a new report claims the automaker will debut a diesel-powered CX-5 crossover in the U.S. next year, followed by a oil-burning Mazda 6.
If true, it means Mazda’s years-long effort to bring its overseas powerplants to North America were not in vain.
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