Skip to main content

Fast and frugal: Mazda6 Skyactiv diesel goes racing

Mazda6 Skyactiv-D diesel to race at 24 Hours of DaytonaFuel economy, not performance, is the focus of most midsize sedans. Mazda apparently wanted both. The Japanese carmaker will campaign a race-prepped Mazda6 powered by a Skyactiv-D diesel at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona January 26-27.

The race engine will be based on the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D offered in European versions of the Mazda6. The engine will be based on a stock block, but will get new valves, pistons, connecting rods, and lubrication components for race duty.

Mazda did not say how much power the engine will produce, but the Grand Am class the 6 will be racing in has a target figure of 400 horsepower. The stock Skyactiv-D produces 173 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque.

Skyactiv is Mazda’s name for a suite of fuel-saving technologies that range from the diesel’s extremely low (14:1) compression ratio to the design of the transmission. It will be interesting to see how much of this makes it to the starting line.

Mazda will be fielding three cars at Daytona, and they should be easy to spot. The #25 Freedom Autosport car will be painted bright green with a giant eagle’s head graphic, the #00 Visit Florida Racing/SpeedSource/Yellow Dragon car will be yellow and orange, and the #70 SpeedSource car will be red and black.

A diesel-powered racer isn’t unheard of, but Mazda’s decision to put a diesel racing engine in a relatively stock sedan moves the technology into a new realm.

In recent years, Audi’s diesels and diesel-hybrids have dominated the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, but these are purpose-built racecars. The R10 and R15 used 5.5-liter V12 and V10 diesels, respectively, while the R18 used a 3.7-liter V6. Last year’s race-winning R18 e-tron quattro used the same V6 and an electric motor.

With a production sedan’s bodywork and a much smaller inline-four, the Mazda6 is a much more relevant application of modern diesel technology to racing, and that means any knowledge Mazda gains racing it could be more easily applied to cars people can actually buy.

It may be less relevant to Americans, though. So far, Mazda isn’t bringing the 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D to the United States. Stateside buyers get a 2.5-liter gasoline Skyactiv engine with 189 hp and 189 lb-ft.

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Kia EV3 vs Tesla Model Y: Can Kia’s new entry-level car take on Tesla?
White Kia EV3

The Kia EV3 is finally coming, and it could well end up being the best small-size electric SUV to buy when it finally rolls out. It's smaller than the Kia EV9, but it offers many of the same design elements and features. But there's another small-size electric car that's currently one of the most popular vehicles out there -- the Tesla Model Y.

How does the Kia EV3 compare with the Tesla Model Y? And is one vehicle actually better than the other? We put the Kia EV3 and the Tesla Model Y head-to-head to find out.
Design
The design of the Kia EV3 is very different than that of the Model Y, though they're both reasonably good-looking vehicles.

Read more
Entry-level Cadillac Optiq EV promises 300 miles of range for $54,000
2025 Cadillac Optiq front three quarter view.

The 2025 Cadillac Optiq will be the General Motors luxury brand's entry-level EV when it starts production late this fall. But it won't have entry-level specs.

After unveiling the Optiq in November 2023, Cadillac is now filling in some of the blanks on this electric crossover SUV's spec sheet. We now know that the Optiq will feature a standard dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain tuned for 300 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, along with an 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack providing an estimated range of over 300 miles. Like other GM EVs, the Optiq will be capable of one-pedal driving, with regenerative braking adjustable via a steering wheel paddle.

Read more
2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally first drive: old pony learns new trick
2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally driving on dirt.

With its Mustang Mach-E, Ford promised an electric SUV imbued with the spirit of the iconic Mustang performance car. Now well into its production run, the Mach-E is living up to its Mustang billing in that, like the traditional internal-combustion Mustang coupe and convertible, Ford wants to grow the herd of Mach-E variants.

Introduced for the 2021 model year, the Mach-E is nearing the point where most vehicles would see a redesign, or at least a major update. That seems especially pressing given the accumulation of fresher competition in the form of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, and Chevrolet Blazer EV. But instead of a redesign, the big news for the 2024 Mustang Mach-E is a new Rally model designed for dirt-road driving.

Read more