It was with great enthusiasm earlier this year that Mazda announced it would begin offering a 2.2 liter turbodiesel in the U.S. market 2014 Mazda 6 sedan. But instead of hitting dealerships later this year as planned, the diesel Mazdas have been delayed until late April. The official cause is emissions testing, but is there a more serious problem plaguing Mazda’s oil-burner?
It’s no secret that America’s diesel emissions standards are notoriously harsh, keeping diesel engine offerings at bay until the past few years. Higher fuel economy standards all but force automakers to offer diesels now though, and without any full hybrid cars in the works, and only a very basic EV program, Mazda has a lot riding on the success of its high-MPG diesel sedan.
So there is almost certainly something to Mazda’s statement that more testing is required before sales of the Mazda 6 diesel can begin. Yet as the The Truth About Cars points out, the Australian version of the 2.2 liter SkyActiv-D engine found in the Mazda CX-5 crossover has been suffering from oil dilution due to a leaky particulate filter. This allowed diesel fuel to seep into the oil sump, and while Mazda has said the problem does not affect the Mazda 6 wagons and sedans, it does still raise some questions.
Perhaps Mazda is double and triple-checking its new batch of oil burners before releasing it on arguably its most important market. After its divorce from Ford, Mazda has been increasingly reliant on its own engineering and design talent to keep it afloat. While the fun-to-drive nature and undeniable good looks of the new Mazda 6 will get customers in the door, there is a lot riding on the success or failure of the new 2.2 liter diesel engine. I know it, and you can bet Mazda knows it too, otherwise they wouldn’t have invested so heavily into its diesel-powered motorsports team.
By the time the Mazda 6 diesel comes to market, there will be other diesel sedan offerings as well, and all the momentum and hype Mazda hoped to carry into 2014 may dissipate. Hopefully April is the latest we’ll have to wait to get the high-torque, high-MPG Mazda we’ve all been waiting for. And how about that wagon version?