Ah, but what about that 11.0 second 0-60 mph time?

Here's the thing: If Mazda does decide to bring the CX-7 diesel to North America, it will be faster and even more fuel-efficient than the model we drove in Europe. Under the hood would be the forthcoming Sky-D series diesel engine, a 2.0-liter four with twin-stage turbocharging that will deliver more power and torque than the 2.2-liter MZR-CD, and a 20-percent improvement in fuel economy. And the engine will drive through an all-new six-speed automatic that Mazda says will feel like a dual clutch manual in terms of shift precision, and offer a 5-percent improvement in fuel economy compared with the current six-speed auto. With the Sky-D powertrain, a U.S.-spec CX-7 diesel has the potential to deliver Mazda's trademark sporty drive experience, and truly impressive gas mileage.

Sounds like a no-brainer. So what's stopping Mazda? Mazda research and development head Seita Kanai told reporters at the Tokyo Show last year the company has been testing diesel-powered vehicles on U.S. soil. Technology is not the issue, as even the current MZR-CD diesel is available with the AdBlue urea catalyst system diesels require to meet 50-state emissions standards. The biggest hurdle Mazda faces introducing diesel motors in the U.S., says Kanai, is customer perception of the technology. "As an engineer, ideally I would want to introduce diesels, but I am not sure if it makes a business case," Kanai told Automotive News last year. He says Mazda would need minimum annual sales of 10,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. to turn a profit.

The CX-7 alone is unlikely to account for the 10,000 units of Sky-D powertrains Kanai believes Mazda needs to make diesel viable in the U.S. -- unless the company takes the bold step of making a diesel CX-7 the premium model in the range, replacing the 2.3-liter gas-engined model in the lineup. Mazda sold just over 20,000 CX-7s in the U.S. last year, and 60 percent of those were the entry-level 2.5i model.