2010 Mazda CX-7 Diesel Test Drive | Popular Mechanics

A diesel-powered SUV from Japan is just over the horizon.

This post originally appeared on the Popular Mechanics website, where you can read it in its entirety. Written by Ken Gross.

Despite widespread acceptance of diesel engines in Europe (approximately 90 percent of the cars in the U.K. use diesels), Americans still shudder at the memory of General Motors’ hapless gas engine-based diesels of the 1980s, and smoky, clattery Mercedes-Benz 300SD oil burners. But there are some signs of progress. Persistent German carmakers continue to introduce new clean-burning diesel cars and SUVs, and next year, even the Japanese will enter the diesel market. We just had a sneak preview of a diesel-powered Mazda CX-7 that’s on sale now in parts of Europe and Japan, and we came away impressed.

The Specs

Mazda has recently started selling an efficient, diesel-powered crossover in Europe, and the company believes the American market will soon be ready for a version of it. The new CX-7’s 2.2-liter, DOHC, turbocharged four-cylinder common-rail, high-pressure, direct-injection diesel develops 175 hp at 3500 rpm, and a hefty 295 ft-lbs of torque at 2000 rpm. The diesel CX-7 accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 11.3 seconds (admittedly not neck-snapping performance) and tops out at 124 mph while achieving 31 mpg fuel economy at 60 mph. This lively engine’s variable-geometry turbocharger is teamed with an intercooler that’s been optimized for the CX-7. The result is strong throttle response from as low as 1600 rpm.

The engine features a new diesel particulate filter (DPF) made from a ceramic material with high thermal resistance, and it includes a unique catalyst developed by Mazda, which incorporates oxygen that’s stored in the base material. Supplemented by the oxygen present in the exhaust gases, the catalyst improves the combustion of soot emissions. The increased level of oxygen speeds the regeneration of the filter, making it more efficient. Filter regeneration is only needed half as often as conventional systems, and each regeneration process takes only a third as long.

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