With neither hybrid nor electric vehicles in their lineup, Mazda has sought to perfect internal combustion technology instead. To help assist the new SkyActiv engines though, Mazda has introduced its optional i-Eloop regenerative braking technology, which can boost the Mazda 6 fuel economy ratings to 28 city and 40 highway.
Independent Japanese automaker Mazda has remained one of the few car companies uncommitted to either a corporate master or an alternative-fuel ideology. While Mazda has developed a few hydrogen fuel-cell and hybrid test vehicles, the automaker is so far sticking with its SkyActiv gasoline and diesel engines. These engines boost fuel economy through techniques like direct injection and variable valve timing.
This allows the standard 2014 Mazda 6 to attain 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway in the EPA testing cycle. But with the optional i-Eloop system, available only on the top-trim level Mazda 6 Grand Touring with the $2,080 GT Technology package, fuel economy is boosted to 28/40/32. That’s the best for any non-hybrid or diesel, though Mazda’s own 2.2 diesel could be good for up to 60 mpg.
The i-Eloop system recaptures energy from braking to power a small capacitor, which can temporarily power electronic systems like climate control or the stereo. It’s an innovative technology, though far from cheap, and cars like the Chevy Cruze Diesel deliver better fuel economy for less money. There’s also been talk of using hydrogen-powered rotary engines as EV range extenders, but I’m not holding my breath for that one.
But the Mazda 6 is also designed to be sporty and engaging to drive, while delivering awesome fuel economy. Plus, it’s freakin’ beautiful, especially the wagon version that we really need here in the states. Mazda is also selling a diesel (wagon!) version of the Mazda 6 in Europe and Asia, though no word on if it’ll be available in North America. Make it happen Mazda!