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First look: Mazda3 SkyActiv uncloaked

Mazda3: Mazda's updated small-car will benefit from the brand's new SkyActiv engine tech when it lands here.

First SkyActiv model emerges in Canada ahead of Mazda3 facelift's 2011 Oz arrival

Mazda logo18 Feb 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

THE first production model to be equipped with Mazda’s ground-breaking SkyActiv engine technology has debuted at the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show, providing a valuable insight into the facelifted Mazda3 that will go on sale in Australia later this year.

Mazda Australia has already announced its first SkyActiv model will become available here this year and although it will not confirm the model’s identity, GoAuto understands the upgraded Mazda3 seen in Toronto previews the vehicle Australians will have access to by year’s end.

No technical data has been provided for the direct-injection SkyActiv-G petrol engine that will power Canada’s 2012 Mazda3 from around September this year.

However, our sources reveal the revised version of Australia’s top-selling privately purchased small car range will include an all-new 1998cc four-cylinder petrol engine that in Japanese specification delivers 121kW of power and 195Nm of torque.

That is up from the 108kW/182Nm outputs offered by the current Mazda3’s entry-level 2.0-litre engine, and approaches the 122kW/227Nm outputs delivered by the 2.5-litre four found in SP25 models.

22 center imageJust as significantly, Mazda’s Toronto show release claims the new engine will deliver “higher torque at low and mid-range engine speeds, resulting in better driveability with less fuel consumption in everyday driving”.

As we’ve reported, Mazda says its SkyActiv-G petrol engines will be 15 per cent more efficient that their current MZR equivalents while offering 15 per cent more torque at low to mid-range engine speeds.

Mazda’s current Three returns 7.9L/100km in base manual guise, while all 2.5-litre models return 8.6L/100km.

As in Canada and elsewhere, the first Sky engine – which is many nations comes with a sky-high compression ratio of 14.0:1 but will be lower than that here due to Australia’s lower-octane standard unleaded petrol – will be available only in selected Mazda3 models in Australia.

In contrast, all versions of the facelifted Mazda3 are expected to get the subtle cosmetic updates previewed by the Canadian model, including new headlights, fresh front and rear bumpers (the former with new-look grille and foglight bezels) and revised 16 and 17-inch alloy wheel designs - but no sheetmetal changes.

Beyond the 2012 Mazda3, as part of its drive to reduce its fleet average fuel consumption by 30 per cent between 2008 and 2015, Mazda’s new SkyActiv petrol and diesel engine range will be complemented by a new-generation 100kg-lighter platform to underpin third-generation Mazda6 and – on a shortened version – Mazda3 models.

The next-generation Mazda2 is expected to combine a 1.3-litre SkyAtive-G engine with another all-new Mazda-designed platform that will again be shared with Ford’s Fiesta.

However, a replacement for Mazda’s current CX-7 crossover – as previewed by the Minagi SUV concept that will debut at the Geneva show on March 1 - could beat it to become Mazda’s first all-SkyActiv production model in 2012.

In line with its ‘Building Block’ efficiency drive, Mazda will add fuel-saving electric technologies like idle-stop, regenerative braking and a petrol-electric hybrid drive system from Toyota to its SkyActiv engines and chassis architectures.

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