Mazda’s Skyactiv-X tech: the petrol engine that acts like a diesel

Published: 09 August 2017

► Mazda's Skyactiv-X engine
► Petrol-powered compression ignition
► Available from 2019

Mazda has plans for the internal combustion engine, and they are big.

An all-new engine type under the Skyactiv umbrella of Mazda’s combustion engines will arrive in 2019, and it will use compression ignition – a combustion system that has only really been commercially available for diesel engines previously.

Mazda has also promised to introduce EVs (electric vehicles) into certain markets from 2019 and begin testing its own autonomous driving tech, too.

Compression ignition… umm?

Hold onto your hats, this is about to get at least slightly technical. Compression ignition is where the fuel mix within the cylinder is compressed on an upward revolution of the piston and ignites on its own because of the pressure put upon it. It’s a process that’s not common in petrol engines, which usually use a spark to ignite the fuel mixture to continue the combustion cycle.

So what does that mean for the ‘X’ engine?

Well, Mazda claims that its new X engines can be around 20-30% more efficient than the current Skyactiv-G petrol engines on sale and between 35-45% more efficient than Mazda’s petrol engines from 2008.

The biggest claim of all is that the X engine ‘even equals or exceeds’ Mazda’s current line-up of diesels in terms of fuel efficiency.

Mazda Skyactiv badge

Still, these numbers were gathered from testing on a super-lean burn, where the fuel-to-air mixture is reduced to such a degree that it would not actually ignite in a regular spark-ignition petrol engine.

It’s not just about efficiency either; if you whack a supercharger onto an X, Mazda says that you could get between 10-30% extra torque out of it compared to a regular petrol.

Where has all of this come from?

Mazda’s ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030’ plan, which we simply cannot say with a straight face. It’s the brand’s approach to the next thirteen years, and goes on to explain how it will ‘perfect the internal combustion engine’ and start introducing electric cars into certain markets from 2019.

From a safety standpoint, Mazda’s i-Activsense suite of safety kit will continue to be rolled out and testing of autonomous technology will start in 2020.

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By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches