Mazda Plans to Introduce Compression-Ignition Gas Engine in 2019
Skyactiv-X Engine Incorporates Supercharger for Added Power
Announcing a new brand ethos, “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030,” Mazda officially announced that it would bring a compression-ignition gasoline engine to the market in 2019. If the company holds true to its promise, the so-called Skyactiv-X engine will be the first-ever commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition, in which the fuel-air mixture is spontaneously burned due solely to piston compression. This announcement underscores Mazda SVP Robert Davis' comments last week that the company is committed to advancing internal combustion technology.
Compression ignition isn’t new, obviously, as it appears on diesel engines. But Mazda claims Skyactiv-X will combine the best of diesel and gasoline. Using a proprietary technology called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, the company will be able to expand the engine’s flexibility, presumably by incorporating an occasional-use spark plug in each combustion chamber. Mazda says Spark Controlled Compression Ignition will provide a seamless transition between spark and compression burn.
In real numbers, the company claims Skyactiv-X will achieve fuel efficiency 20–30 percent greater than the current generation of Skyactiv-G engines. If that’s true, we could expect a compression-ignition Mazda CX-5 to hit at least 29 mpg around town and 37 mpg on the highway, while the smaller CX-3 could hit the magic 40-mpg number under the right conditions.
Befitting the “Zoom-Zoom” part of Mazda’s motto, Skyactiv-X will be paired with a supercharger for greater torque compared to Skyactiv-G. The blower should provide a 10–30-percent increase in twist compared to current engine technology, or between 205 and 240 lb-ft in our CX-5 example. While that’s not quite as much as we expect from the upcoming CX-5 diesel, it’s still impressive for a small-displacement gasoline engine. Mazda also says the Skyactiv-X will have “unprecedented engine response,” but since the engine itself is unprecedented, we’re not sure how much water that statement holds.
With a 2019 launch date in mind, we could expect the Skyactiv-X to make its first appearance in the Mazda3 compact car. Rumors suggest the company will roll out Skyactiv-X to the rest of the lineup soon thereafter, so we think a midcycle refresh of the CX-5 in 2020 would be a safe bet for compression ignition in the company’s popular crossover.