Mazda gambles with advanced engine tech to bridge the shift to all-electric

Mazda Motor Corporation showed off two attention-grabbing concept models at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show. Looking past the curves and sightlines, the company’s plans for the revolutionary SkyActiv-X spark-controlled compression ignition motors captured as much if not more attention than the swoopy concept bodies.

Mazda Vision Coupe Concept
Mazda Vision Coupe Concept

We’ve already written about the Vision Coupe concept previewed as the next Mazda6, likely to launch in 2020.  Mazda also unveiled the Kai Concept four-door hatchback, an early look at the next generation 2019 Mazda3. Car and Driver recently drove prototype examples of the next Mazda3 in Germany with Skyactiv-X engines and the same body.

Mazda referred to the current Mazda3 design as “juvenile and fresh” and the Kai concept as “sporty and mature,” according to CarsGuide. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the new platform is supposed to be quieter, with less vibration and ride harshness.

The Kai Concept, like the Vision Coupe, was created with Mazda’s Kodo design language. Kodo is a design philosophy that, instead of just shaping metal mass, envisions the process as “breathing life into the car.” Mazda’s long-term tech development vision is to leverage driving pleasure to “inspire people, enrich society, and help bring about a beautiful earth.” The company calls the vision “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030.”

According to Mazda the Kai Concept’s muscular, solid proportions result in a dramatically quieter, more comfortable ride than the current model as well as an “enhanced performance feel.” CarsGuide states the next-gen Mazda3 will be about 2 inches shorter and 3.5 inches lower than the current model, with a 2-inch longer wheelbase and a 2.4-inch wider body.

Mazda SKyActiv-X compression ignition engine
Mazda SKyActiv-X compression ignition engine

The new Mazda3’s greatest test will be the success of the SkyActiv-X engine technology, with the new compression-ignition engine combining the advantages of both gasoline and diesel engine technologies. The new engine follows Mazda’s previous SkyActiv-G gasoline engine and Skyactive-D diesel engine. Using spark-ignition to control the compression ignition, Mazda’s positions the “X” as crossover technology.

If it works, the SkyActiv-X will deliver diesel engine-like torque and fuel economy along with the higher revs and cleaner exhaust emissions associated with gasoline engines. Mazda wants SkyActiv-X drivers to simultaneously enjoy the drive and take better care of the planet.

Emerging Tech

Will we ever fly supersonic again? Unraveling the concorde’s complex legacy

In a new book, Last Days of the Concorde, journalist and author Samme Chittum delves into the mindset that inspired engineers to design this marvel, the series of events that led to its fatal crash, and the possibility that commercial SSTs…
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Glass,’ ‘Mortal Engines,’ ‘Pet Sematary’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. To simplify things, we round up the best ones each week. On tap this week: New trailers for Pet Sematary, Glass, Mortal Engines, and other upcoming films.
Smart Home

Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot: Which is better?

We put the two most popular smart home speakers -- the Google Home Mini and the 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot -- together and tested them on appearance, audio, and abilities. So which should you buy? Find out how they did in our showdown.
Cars

2019 Chevrolet Silverado gets serious about MPG with new four-cylinder engine

In an aggressive bid to improve fuel economy, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado will be offered with a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Chevy claims comparable performance to other Detroit automakers' V6 trucks.
Cars

Going my way? Waze takes its carpooling service nationwide

Following a tentative rollout over the last two years, Waze is now expanding its carpooling service to all 50 states, offering drivers a chance to fill their spare seats with riders heading in the same direction.
Cars

Ford hatches a software update to fix a fiery problem with its GT supercar

Ford warns 200 examples of the GT supercar built between December 2016 and July 2018 can catch fire if hydraulic fluid leaks from the rear wing onto the hot exhaust. It will fix the problem with a software update.
Cars

Watch this driverless Range Rover tackle one of U.K.’s ‘most challenging roads’

Jaguar Land Rover just sent its autonomous Range Rover Sport vehicle onto one of the U.K.'s "most challenging road layouts," and the automaker has posted a video online showing exactly how it fared.
Cars

Can't see in front of you? Here's how to change your windshield wipers

If you can't see out of the front of your car, it's time for a new set of wiper blades. Thankfully, changing your car's windshield wipers is quick and painless if you know what you're doing. Here's what you need to know.
Cars

GPS units aren't dead! Our favorite models still do things your phone can't

Love hitting the open road but hate having to rely solely on your phone for getting around? Thankfully, the best in-car GPS systems will allow you to navigate and capitalize on a range of features sans your cellular network. Here are our…
Cars

A public/private autonomous driving institute blooms under the Arizona sun

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM), partnering government, academic, and private organizations to develop self-driving tech and safety standards. Intel is the first private-sector member.
Cars

Ford imagines a future without traffic lights or stop signs

Ford is using vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) tech to allow cars to pass through intersections without stopping. The experimental "Intersection Priority Management" system basically acts as air traffic control for cars.
Cars

The supersized BMW X7 is coming with a grille you can park a 2 Series on

BMW will soon expand its lineup with a new range-topping SUV named the X7. The first-ever BMW X7 is shaping up to be the 7 Series of the SUV world in terms of size, price, and image.
Cars

Can't see all of a sudden? Our quick guide on defogging your car windows

Did you suddenly lose exterior visibility while driving because of foggy windows? Don't panic! Here's our quick guide on defogging your car windows in a safe manner while on the go, and a few steps on how to prevent them.
Product Review

The 2019 Volvo V60 proves it's still cool to drive a station wagon

With the 2019 V60, Volvo argues the station wagon segment isn't as moribund as most other automakers say it is. The company goes as far as arguing we're on the cusp of a wagon revival, and the V60 is poised to lead the charge.