Mazda SkyActiv-X May Not Have Enough Power For America

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The US market has been eagerly waiting for Mazda to announce the arrival of its revolutionary SkyActiv-X engine with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition technology. It's been two years since we first drove a prototype version in a Mazda3 Hatchback and the engine is already offered in Europe and Japan. So, what's the holdup in the US? Speaking with Automotive News, Mazda expressed concerns over the SkyActiv-X's current output and how US consumers will view it in the marketplace.

The 2.0-liter SkyActiv-X engine is currently rated at 178 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, which is less than the 186 hp and 186 lb-ft produced by the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine used in the current Mazda3. While the SkyActiv-X offers around a nine percent improvement in fuel economy, it comes at a 27 percent premium over the base engine.

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Mazda isn't so sure US consumers will be willing to sacrifice power and pay a premium for a small increase in fuel economy. "Maybe US customers require more power because fuel economy is not the top requirement," Mazda engineer Yoshiaki Yamane explained. We've seen a similar dilemma in the US with diesel engines that carry a hefty price premium over their gasoline counterparts and only provide a minimal improvement in fuel economy. Since Mazda can't make the SkyActiv-X engine any cheaper, the only solution is to make it more powerful for the US market.

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The Japanese automaker is currently working on a new Large Architecture that will underpin upcoming models that have yet to be announced (possibly even an RX replacement). This Large Architecture will allow for a larger straight-six SkyActiv-X engine, which should solve the power dilemma. We will never complain about getting more power but this likely means SkyActiv-X won't be coming stateside for quite some time. But as we saw with the SkyActiv-D diesel engine, Mazda doesn't give up even when it faces a long delay.

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