New Mazda 3: spec confirmed for 178bhp Skyactiv-X engine

Mazda has confirmed the power and fuel economy details of the innovative Skyactiv-X engine that will be added to the line-up of the new fourth-generation Mazda 3 later this year.

The firm says the spark plug-controlled compression ignition petrol unit, which will be offered on both hatchback and saloon models, combines the performance of a petrol engine with the fuel economy of a diesel.

Mazda has now confirmed the unit will deliver 178bhp and 165lb ft of torque, while producing a fuel economy of up to 52.3mpg on the WLTP cycle, with CO2 emissions from 96g/km. The economy and CO2 figures depend on model, wheel size and transmission, with six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes available.

The powertrain will also include Mazda’s M Hybrid system, a 24V mild-hybrid unit that can regain energy under braking. 

Full UK pricing and specifications for the Skyactiv-X will be finalised in July; on-the road prices for the new hatchback start from £20,595.

The Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival, unveiled at the Los Angeles motor show, features the Japanese car maker’s new design language seen on the Vision Coupé concept of 2018. 

The hatchback is initially on offer in the UK with a choice of five trim levels and two engines: a 120bhp 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol featuring a 24V mild-hybrid system (starting from £20,595) and a 114bhp 1.8-litre Skyactiv-D diesel (starting at £22,395). All cars will be available with a manual or automatic transmission.

First drive: Mazda 3 Skyactiv-G 2019

The new Mazda 3 introduces the firm’s new Skyactiv Vehicle Architecture, an umbrella term for a number of new structures including seats that maintain the natural curve of the spine and a ring-structure bodyshell that increases rigidity, reduces transmission lag and improves noise, vibration and harshness levels.

All of these features form part of Mazda Premium, a goal by the firm to position itself more in line with traditional premium car brands.

The new Skyactiv-X engine is the most marked feature of the new 3, given that it has the potential to breathe new life into petrol power amid stricter emissions and efficiency targets.

The engine also promises “superior initial response, powerful torque, faithful linear response and free-revving performance”, says Mazda. 

Powertrain boss Ichiro Hirose confirmed to Autocar that the powertrain is scalable for petrol engines with more or less displacement.

The latest version of Mazda’s i-Activ AWD system, which is not yet confirmed for the UK, works with the car’s torque vectoring to control torque distribution between the front and rear wheels. This makes the car respond better to driver input than previously, according to Mazda.

Inside the new 3, Mazda said it has focused on ergonomics and ensuring a good driving position and visibility. 

The infotainment system, including an 8.8in screen, has been redesigned to be more intuitive to use, while speakers have been positioned, following research, to ensure excellent sound quality.

Safety systems include a driver monitoring system that uses an infrared camera and LED to observe the driver and sounds an alert if the system considers the situation is dangerous.