autoevolution

rating:

  • Overall: 4.5/5

2020 Mazda3 Skyactiv-X

Key Specs
USEU
Cylinders
L4
Displacement
1998 cm3
Power
132.4(180)/6000 KW(hp)/RPM
Torque
165.2/3000 lb-ft/RPM
Fuel System
Direct Injection
Fuel
Gasoline
Electrical motor power
-
Electrical motor torque
-
Total maximum power
-
Total maximum torque
-
Fuel capacity
13.2 gallons
Fuel capacity (optional)
-
Top Speed
-
Acceleration 0-62 Mph
-
Top speed (electrical)
-
Drive Type
Front Wheel Drive
Gearbox
6-Speed manual
Front
Ventilated Discs
Rear
Discs
Tire Size
205/60R16
Unladen Weight
-
Gross Weight Limit
-
Unladen Weight (2)
-
Gross Weight Limit (2)
-
Length
175.6 in
Width
70.7 in
Height
56.7 in
Front/rear Track
61.8/62.2 in
Wheelbase
107.3 in
Ground Clearance
5.3 in
Cargo Volume
12.6 cuFT
Aerodynamics (Cd)
-
Aerodynamics (frontal area)
-
Turning circle
-
Turning circle (curb to curb)
-
Turning circle (wall to wall)
-
City
48 mpg
Highway
57.4 mpg
Combined
53.5 mpg
CO2 Emissions
125 g/km
Power pack
-
Nominal Capacity
-
Maximum Capacity
-
Charger type
-
Charging time (normal)
-
Charging time (quick)
-
Range
-
Low
-
CO2 Emissions (Low)
-
Medium
-
CO2 Emissions (Medium)
-
High
-
CO2 Emissions (High)
-
Extra high
-
CO2 Emissions (Extra high)
-
Combined
-
CO2 Emissions (Combined)
-
Cylinders
L4
Displacement
1998 cm3
Power
132.4(180)/6000 KW(hp)/RPM
Torque
224/3000 Nm/RPM
Fuel System
Direct Injection
Fuel
Gasoline
Electrical motor power
-
Electrical motor torque
-
Total maximum power
-
Total maximum torque
-
Fuel capacity
50.0 L
Fuel capacity (optional)
-
Top Speed
-
Acceleration 0-62 Mph
-
Top speed (electrical)
-
Drive Type
Front Wheel Drive
Gearbox
6-Speed manual
Front
Ventilated Discs
Rear
Discs
Tire Size
205/60R16
Unladen Weight
-
Gross Weight Limit
-
Unladen Weight (2)
-
Gross Weight Limit (2)
-
Length
4460 mm
Width
1796 mm
Height
1440 mm
Front/rear Track
1,570/1,580 mm
Wheelbase
2725 mm
Ground Clearance
135 mm
Cargo Volume
357 L
Aerodynamics (Cd)
-
Aerodynamics (frontal area)
-
Turning circle
-
Turning circle (curb to curb)
-
Turning circle (wall to wall)
-
City
4.9 L/100Km
Highway
4.1 L/100Km
Combined
4.4 L/100Km
CO2 Emissions
125 g/km
Power pack
-
Nominal Capacity
-
Maximum Capacity
-
Charger type
-
Charging time (normal)
-
Charging time (quick)
-
Range
-
Low
-
CO2 Emissions (Low)
-
Medium
-
CO2 Emissions (Medium)
-
High
-
CO2 Emissions (High)
-
Extra high
-
CO2 Emissions (Extra high)
-
Combined
-
CO2 Emissions (Combined)
-
Car video reviews:
 

Driven: 2020 Mazda3 Skyactiv-X

Full disclosure: before we jump in I have to let you know that over the last 3-4 years I have developed a couple of pre-conceptions about diesel cars in general and about the latest Mazda cars in particular.
Mazda3 Skyactiv-X 87 photos
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Firstly, I think that the concept of diesel engines has had enough time to evolve and there is no diesel-related technology left to invent to make them better. Secondly, I think that Mazda is one of the few remaining mainstream carmakers that hasn't been overrun by beancounters.

I'm not saying that Mazda's engineers have probed my brain before going forward with the Skyactiv-X engine technology but that's exactly how I felt after test driving the latest Mazda3 equipped with this engine.

If you were to judge a Mazda3 Skyactiv-X purely by stats, things don't look particularly promising, at least from a performance standpoint, but look closer and you'll see something strange – the fuel economy figures look like they're wrong, especially for a gasoline engine.

Don't frown, they are not, and that's exactly what countless carmakers have tried over the years, but so far only Mazda has succeeded in doing. What if we could take the main advantage of the diesel engine and implement it in a gasoline mill, but without all the inherent drawbacks, such as exhaust sound, vibrations and a definitive lack of high RPMs?

In case it's not obvious by now, Skyactiv-X is simply the most evolved version of the internal combustion engine right now, two steps above anything else, whether it's the Atkinson Cycle, Miller Cycle or other similar contraptions.

In short, the marriage between diesel and Otto has been attempted by so many carmakers that some people were beginning to think that it will never be going to happen. Engineers from much larger car companies came, saw, forgot what they were doing, retraced their steps, got distracted by batteries and electric motors on the way back, have no idea what's going on anymore and now they're just waiting for people to start liking cars that take at least an hour to become ready for driving again.

Not Mazda, though, because its engineers have always hit the occasional curveball in trying to simply be different than the rest. Their quest to perfect the internal combustion engine first resulted in pretty much ignoring the downsizing trend that has engulfed so many carmakers in recent years.

Skyactiv-X is simply the next step in Mazda's so-called “rightsizing” strategy. In short, it's a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that runs on gasoline but sips fuel like a diesel. It's the first production gasoline engine that (sometimes) uses compression ignition, but there is a lot more that goes into achieving those ridiculous fuel economy figures.

I won't bore you with all the technical details, but I simply must mention that there is also a supercharger involved, although not in the traditional way, since it's not used to increase horsepower or torque but for the compression ignition technology to reliably work.

Simply put, a series of very lean mixtures of fuel and air is injected into the cylinder during the intake process, then a precisely measured richer zone of atomized fuel is added directly around the spark plug during compression.

Since we're talking about a gasoline engine with a very high compression ratio (16.3:1, as much as diesel), the first lean mixture is close to spontaneously combusting anyway, but the second injection of the richer mixture creates a small ignition around the spark plug, which in turn increases pressure in the combustion chamber to the point of compression-igniting the lean mixture. The supercharger is simply used to deliver enough air for the lean mixture to occur.

That said, the engine only runs in this mode during light-load driving and is not at the top of its peak power in these scenarios. When more power is needed, the engine automatically switches to a 14.7:1 compression ratio.

All of this translates into a much-improved fuel economy and lower emissions by combining the biggest selling points of the gasoline engine with the efficiency of the diesel.

In reality, after driving a Mazda3 equipped with this engine in both FWD and AWD guise, I can safely say that it's the most technologically advanced internal combustion engine I've ever experienced due to a single reason: it doesn't show it! It's simply so normal that it's not even cool. Better yet, it's cool by being normal.

During normal driving, the only thing that stands out is a certain ruggedness at lower RPM, almost like a well-behaved and very muffled diesel. At around 3,000 RPM there is a mild switch in how the sound is perceived in the cabin - like the car has just been transplanted with the revamped 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G in the latest Mazda MX-5/Miata ND.

Even though it has 180 horsepower, more than enough to launch the FWD Mazda3 from naught to 100 kph (62 mph) in a respectable time of 8.2 seconds, the car is no mild-hatch. The numbers and the feeling at higher rotations per minute are definitely there, but the transmission is geared more for economy and comfort, not for B-road hooning at 7,000 RPMs.

That said, during our time with the car we tried to do the opposite of every other journalist who experienced the Skyactiv-X Mazda3. Instead of trying to achieve the best fuel economy possible we tried to squeeze as much juice from the car as we could, in all types of road conditions, and the results were even more mind-bending than I had expected.

I won't say what numbers we achieved but let's just say that they would have been identical in a Mazda3 with the 1.8-liter diesel, which only delivers 116 horsepower and revs just a notch above 4,500 rpm.

Do me a favor and test drive one side by side with any other gasoline-powered compact car on the market, premium or not, and I vouch that you will be amazed as well. In my humble opinion, the Mazda3 Skyactiv-X is simply the best deal in its segment without resorting to hybrid tech or downsizing.

The addition of available all-wheel-drive is obviously a strong point as well, but that version is surprisingly not as driver-focused as the FWD model since it's slower, slightly heavier and definitely not as involving. Those who live in places with harsh winters should be welcoming it, but for the rest, the front-drive model is more than adequate. I know design is subjective, but the FWD model drives as good as it looks.

Nobody at Mazda will say this officially, but this is the car that you buy if you hate diesels but secretly long for their fuel economy.

 
 
 
 
 

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