Originally slated to debut in 2013, the Mazda6 diesel has been delayed several times as the Japanese automaker struggled to meet strict U.S. emissions standards. But it’s still coming, Mazda reps revealed in an interview with Automotive News, though just when it’ll arrive remains unanswered.
“We’re still very much committed to diesel,” CEO of Mazda North American Operations Jim O’Sullivan told AN. “We are still working on getting the performance aspects up to where we want them, and we do have a plan — an engineering road map — to get it done.”
The automaker had wanted to deliver a powerful but affordable diesel engine option in the Mazda6 min lieu of a hybrid, which meant designing an engine that didn’t need an aftertreatment to meet emissions. But that engine design lacked the power you’d expect from the Zoom-zoom brand, so engineers went back to the drawing board, and rumor has it the aftertreatment system is back on the table. That didn’t stop Mazda from setting some diesel speed records, but it has prevented them from selling its car to an eager public.
It sounds like Mazda is doing right by their customers, and the timing could still work out. Despite falling gas prices, diesel vehicle sales continue to climb, and while Volkswagen still makes up a bulk of diesel passenger vehicle sales, Chrysler and GM have begun offering diesel cars of their own after decades of ignoring advances in diesel technology.
On the other hand, Mazda may have jumped the gun with its Indy 500-winning diesel racing program, which generated a lot of initial buzz by using a modified version of the 2.2 liter SkyActiv diesel engine you’d find in the production car. That buzz has since faded into the background of regular competition though, and there’s an increasing amount of competition in the diesel sedan category.
Hopefully Mazda makes sure that the wait is worth it, because otherwise they’ve just wasted two years and a golden opportunity to inject some excitement for diesel engines into their customer base. One thing they could do to appease fans is offer the wagon model of the Mazda6 with the diesel engine, but I won’t hold my breath.