Though Mazda has been slow to embrace any one alternative fuel technology, the small Japanese automaker has just rolled out three new green cars at the Tokyo Motor Show that embrace a diverse array of different fuel-saving, emissions-scrubbing technologies.
The Mazda3 SkyActiv-CNG utilizes both gasoline and compressed natural gas in its high-compression 2.0 liter, four-cylinder enigine, giving drivers a choice that utilizes a cheaper fuel. Alas, for now the Mazda3 CNG is a Japanese-market vehicle only, though the big push for CNG vehicles in America is far from over, and this vehicle could yet make it to our shores.
More interesting, and likely to come to America though is the Mazda3 SkyActiv-HYBRID, which also uses a high-compression 2.0 liter engine (14:1!) and an 84 horsepower electric motor connected to a new CVT transmission. The motor never directly drives the Mazda3, but rather assists the gas motor in low speed and low load situations, and power comes from a nickel-hydride battery like those found in the Toyota Prius. This system will supplement the Mazda6 with the iEloop mild-hybrid system, giving customers a choice.
Under the Japanese testing standard, the Mazda3 will supposedly return 72.3 mpg, though under the same standard the 50 mpg Toyota Prius is rated at 89.4 mpg. Under American standards, the Mazda3 Hybrid should be good for at least 45 mpg on the highway, making it competitive, though not quite a Kingslayer.
Mazda also announced that its 2.2 liter SkyActiv-D diesel engine would see double duty in the Japanese-market CX-5 and Mazda3. America is already getting the Mazda6 with the SkyActiv-D engine, though it won’t hit our shores until 2014. Now imagine a diesel-powered hatchback with 310 ft-lbs of torque and hybrid-beating fuel economy. More than anything, that’s the car Mazda needs to bring to America.