Monday, May 28, 2018

First Drive: 2019 Mazda3 Skyactiv-X


Tucked behind the current-generation body and the matte black paint job lurks the all-new 2019 Mazda3. Slated for market release sometime between April 2019 and March 2020, it not only marks the fourth-generation model to carry the zoom-zoom banner in the compact car segment, but it also represents the biggest gamble for Mazda.

As the rest of the automotive world moves ever close to electrification, Mazda is pushing forward with the development of the internal combustion engine, relying only on electrification if the energy source is generated through clean or renewable ways. The result is Skyactiv-X, an engine that combines the best traits of a gasoline engine with that of diesel engine.



Explaining how Skyactiv-X works requires a lengthy and technical explanation, but the long and short of it is this: it’s Mazda’s answer to create the world’s first viable compression combustion gasoline engine using the sparkplug as a control mechanism. Calling it SPCCI or Spark plug Controlled Compression Ignition, this new engine is said to deliver the same level of performance as the current 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G (188 horsepower and 230 Nm of torque) while returning 30 percent better fuel efficiency than the current 2.0-liter motor. It can run on fuel ranging from 91 octane and up and emissions standards from Euro-4 upward.

As with any new piece of technology, there are some apprehensions from how it responds to how it sounds. Thankfully, Mazda’s quest for efficiency doesn’t come with any compromises that would threaten the brand’s zoom-zoom image. While some tiny work needs to be done to clean up its aural quality, more importantly, the entire package works.



With an iPad mounted at the center console to indicate which ignition operation is in place, an assumption is that performance would sag any time Skyactiv-X enters compression ignition mode. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case; it remains perfectly tractable. What’s more, the engine switches over to conventional spark ignition during high engine load. Simulating varied road speeds on the race track, it’s quite clear that Mazda’s engineers have managed the switchover between the two ignition types quite well. The entire process is seamless with zero vibrational cues.

Admittedly, there’s a diesel-like chatter whenever the engine transitions from one mode to the other. It’s a lot less noticeable in manual transmission guise, but when paired with the automatic, the stuttering tends to linger, especially when the engine spins at low rpm. This, according to Mazda, will be rectified closer to production.



Driven back-to-back with the current Mazda3 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G, the Skactiv-X prototype does have a flatter torque curve, resulting in impressive off-the-line feel. It doesn’t have the same urgency as a diesel-powered engine, but it does stay on point, pulling strongly until the needle passes 4,000 rpm; only then does the performance starts to taper off a bit. Still, it remains rev-happy. And since it remains efficient across a wider range of engine speeds, the gearbox, at least for the automatic, hunts less. It commits to a gear and locks on, contributing to the prototype’s sharper responses, especially at city speeds.

Fixing the Skyactiv-X’s weird powertrain noises will be critical, because the prototype, running on a brand-new platform dubbed Skyactiv Vehicle Architecture is noticeably quieter than the current model. It’s also way more composed, pliant, and refined even on bumpy surfaces. The steering does feel slower around the center, but it does feel more linear and precise, even at moderate or high speeds.



With its design yet to be finalized, one could surmise that the all-new Mazda3 is still some ways off. However, Mazda’s enthusiasm to share its latest engineering breakthrough speaks volumes of what they’re trying to achieve. As the first model in their seventh-generation line-up, the Hiroshima-based carmaker known for defying conventions wants to start off the deep-end. As one of their global best-sellers alongside the CX-5, they cannot afford to get things wrong with the 2019 Mazda3. It’s a big gamble, but it’s also one that comes with huge rewards. Thankfully for Mazda, the odds look to be in their favor.

46 comments:

  1. Good thing it didn't blow up.

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    1. It definitely won't. These prototypes are already advanced ones...the unit I had already have almost 12,000 kilometers on the odometer.

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    2. Why would it blow up, LOL. A turbocharged engine would be more likely to do so. Next time, read up some more before you post, ricer fanb0i.

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  2. Nice, huge respect for companies taking high risk for sake of innovation.

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  3. Kudos for Mazda's innovation and sticking to what their brand is know for. Happy Mazda owner here and I can't imagine ever owning a car from the other brands with that awful CVT.

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    1. What's wrong with CVT BTW? Are you making statements based on your experience or what you've been reading off the internet?

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    2. I've test driven one and I don't like the feel of it. The continuous drone feels artificial to me compared to a conventional automatic. It feels like a vaccuum cleaner. This is just my opinion on CVT's.

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    3. The F are you talking about? CVTs today feel like conventional auto because they simulate gears and some are even paired with torque converters. Wag mo kaming lokohin boy!

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    4. Butthurt guy spotted.

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    5. Because noisy, rubberbanding CVTs are unrepairable and cost 300K out of warranty. But don't worry, the ricers would have to first deal with the steering rack issues with their ride before that happens haha.

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    6. Nasa 2018 na tayo wala na sa 90's, malaki na improvement ng CVT over the past years.

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    7. "stimulate" they still aren't the same with conventional autos. And even if they're paired with torque converters, they lack that shifting feel which is why I don't like them. I'm not fooling you, it's just my feel on CVT's.

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    8. What car did you drive with that kind of CVT?

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    9. Honda city 2015 and a honda civic 2016.

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    10. I see insecurities against Honda? What's so good about that brand? Not a honda likers but now it gets my interest. Maybe I should consider and check out their models for my next car soon. Hmmm...

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  4. I'm excited for its local debut here maybe December 2019 or 2021?

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  5. Pinarello Dogma still has a better engine though...

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  6. Now this is real innovation, unlike certain ricer favorite brands that turned their back on their "NA is best" philosophy so they can lazily keep up with the competition.

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    1. LOL. Mazda has also turned into turbocharging to be able to keep up with the competition. They already rolled out the 2.5L turbocharged gasoline engines in the Mazda 6, CX5 and CX9 while there's also the 2.2 turbocharged diesel engines in Mazda 6 and CX5. The CX3 meanwhile gets the 1.8L turbocharged diesel engine.

      Automotive newbies are everywhere in this page.

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    2. As a Mazda fan, I agree with your statement honda fanboy. Personally, I don't like what they did to the new CX-5 and to the new Mazda 6 overseas. They became too quiet, too serene, with the driving dynamics somewhat muted. It's what the market wants anyway, but that's not what the brand is known for. Well at least their turbocharged engines are twin turbos, meaning that there's none of that dreaded turbo lag compared to the competition. Same with what Ferrari is doing now.. They're not producing great NA engines anymore.. They've ridden the turbo bandwagon as well. On the positive side, at least I know that Mazda won't join the CVT bandwagon.

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    3. LOL. Ignorant ricers. Most modern diesels use turbos, so that's not proving anything. Also, Mazda didn't proclaim "all-motor is best" before doing a 180, unlike the ricer's favorite brand. Try again, n00b fangheys.

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    4. ^ Ignorant fool. Mazda has also rolled out the turbocharged gasoline engines for the 6, CX5 and CX9 (in which ironically has been suffering from overheating problems and poor AWD system performance).

      Yeah, try again fool.

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    5. Haha, avoiding the points raised above. Mazda wasn't the one proclaiming "naturally-aspirated engines are best" and then turning around by using old tech turbos to keep up. Read again ricer fanghey.

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    6. I've searched international reviews, both forums and from youtube and I did not find a single one with the same case of Sir Uly's CX-9 test drive. And correction, it has high engine heat but it didn't overheat. Of course, it runs on summer tires, not offroading tires. And would you really bring an expensive CX-9 or Explorer off roading? lol, such a hypocrite. Even pickups need to be modded first with off-road tires before they can be offloaded. Their stock summer tires would break down if you take them offroading.

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    7. ^ It didn't overheat but it's suffering from high engine temperature thus affecting the engine performance. It's a serious safety issue, imagine doing an overtaking manuever but suddenly you lost power due to high engine heat.

      I never said anything about hard core off roading. AWD equipped vehicles are designed for challenging ON ROAD manuevers, slippery conditions and rough roads. The CX9's AWD failed misserably for both paved diagonal test and rough road test while the CX5 barely made it. Try again, hypocrite. LOL

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  7. Kamusta na yung steering rack issues with the ricer car pala, and how is that rubberband tranny holding up? Hehe.

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    1. Honda has been dealing with it to rectify.

      Eh kamusta naman yung overheating issues ng CX9? Kamusta din yung DPF problems ng mga diesel powered Mazda vehicles na ilang taon na may problema pero hindi pa din nasosolve hanggang ngayon? Kamusta na din yung istop/ieloop problems? LOL

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    2. LOL> A sample size of 1 (from Uly's limited test drive) doesn't prove anything. DPFs are designed to be replaced, it's a filter after all, so that's not a surprise. Most other brands omit that to save on cost haha, so they barely pass Euro-4 emissions standards, unlike the Euro-6 compliant Mazda diesels. No problems with new technologies, those are unique features, first adopters recognize that. Better than staying with primitive technologies like turbos and 4/5-speed ATs, haha.

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    3. Mazda 3 2.0 owner here, 2 years and I don't have any problems with the istop. When it will due to be replaced, the affordable amaron battery despite the "experts" statements works well, just connect another battery while changing it so that the car computer doesn't reset.

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    4. Good luck with the Civic's turbo and CVT when it's time for them to be replaced. Probably half the value or more of the car.

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    5. Fix the steering knock issues of the CX3 first before you even ask about the Civic. LOL

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    6. Knocks are a milder problem than total steering rack failures, lulz.

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    7. Both the CX3 and 2016-17 batches of Civic has steering knocks. No total steering rack failure just yet, imbento ka. LOL

      Both carmakers has to address it properly, milder form ka dyan. LOL

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    8. You basically know nothing about Honda guys after several years dami na surplus nyan kaya madali ibenta at maganda resale value. Just go with Toyota you can't go wrong, super tipid pa sa gas with CVT

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    9. Yuck, baduy, Toyota is for ignorant sheeple who don't do their own research before buying, gagaya lang kung ano marami nakikita sa daan.

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    10. LOL. Ricer fanb0i denying reality. Steering racks being replaced under warranty are common stories in the various owners's forums & groups, read up ka muna before spewing your ignorance. Look up mo na rin sa dictionary yung difference ng "knock" sa "total failure", absent ka ata nung tinuro yan sa elementary school.

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  8. Well i trust Toyota. Mazda ano ba? Mazda lang? Few years from now baka bilin pa ng Toyota Mazda mo sa liit nla. Anyway, practicality, reliability, comfort & longterm ownership ang preference ko for my family & business. Your still a kid probably who are trying to be racer racer type and mazda fan. I've driven some skyactiv Mazda's. comfort is average, cabin noise is not good especially if it's raining, fuel efficiency is almost close to CVT, power is linear but not impressive, etc. And if I want a car with better road credibility then i'll buy Lexus, bmw, audi, mercedes if not Toyota/Honda/Subaru but not Mazda kid. Goodluck kid

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    1. Toyota lang? The automotive equivalent of an appliance. With the looks and performance to match. Boring. Reliability is down to the vehicle owner, and resale price is dependent on the actual condition of the specific vehicle. That Toyota sales pitch won't work with people who have more 2 brain cells.

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    2. Toyota lang? The automotive equivalent of an appliance. With the looks and performance to match. Boring. Reliability is down to the vehicle owner, and resale price is dependent on the actual condition of the specific vehicle. That Toyota sales pitch won't work with people who have more than 2 brain cells.

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    3. Have you been to a Toyota and a Mazda dealership? From my observation, Toyota is full of normal looking folks in t shirts looking clueless while at Mazda, there are less folks but they look sophisticated and well educated wearing business clothes

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    4. @6:11PM is one of those ignorant sheeple, hahaha. Prolly uses an iphone and drinks at starbucks as well. Lulz. Fools and their money.

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    5. 6:11PM is a pathetic old fart haha. Palibhasa gaya-gaya mentality lang alam eh.

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  9. Mazda and toyota have a partnership wherein toyota shares its ev and hybrid tech for mazda's skyactiv tech. If skyactiv is just a gimmick, toyota wouldn't bother signing that partnership. I've never been let down by my mazda 3, its practical, comfy and reliable. I wouldn't drive a car that feels bad or numb to drive. There's a big difference in driving a sporty mazda and a dull toyota. The steering feel in most toyotas are nonexistent, it feels like an appliance. You're just one of those bitter mazda haters that chooses his ignorant mind over your heart. The mx5 alone speaks for itself. It's regarded as one of the best driving cars regardless of price.
    Btw:
    Toyota: cheap and dull as a rock that ignorant people who know nothing about cars and cheapskates buy.
    Honda: the only alternative to mazda that I would buy
    Subaru: slow as a snail, less dull than a toyota, maintenance nightmare, gas guzzler.

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  10. Wow! Mga PUTANG INA kayong lahat! Puro kayo ngak ngak ng kung anu-ano comment na walang ka-kwenta-kwenta! Paulit-ulit na lang complains ninyo about each other's hatred sa mga sasakyan nyo di ninyo naman angkin! Panay kayo yabang! Imbes na mag-comment kayo about sa current topic puro kayo reklamo at siraan! Pumapangit tuloy itong comment section ng CARGUIDE.PH!

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    Replies
    1. Just don't mind them. The saying goes: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS.

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