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Super-frugal Mazda baby bypassed for Oz

Not for Oz: The upgraded Demio hatch (known as Mazda2 in Australia) hit Japan last week with a new SkyActiv powertain.

SkyActiv-equipped 1.3-litre Mazda2 light car is for Japan only - for now

Mazda logo5 Jul 2011

MAZDA will not release a 1.3-litre SkyActiv-G powered version of its popular Mazda2 light car in Australia in the foreseeable future, despite the introduction of an upgraded ‘Demio’ hatch in Japan last week.

Speculation that Australia’s Mazda2 was about to adopt the company’s next-generation drivetrain technology started when Mazda released information about its new 1.3 SkyActiv-G petrol engine for the Japanese domestic market’s facelifted Demio/Mazda2 in May.

However it now appears that Australia will wait until larger-capacity SkyActiv engines are available in the ‘2’. Rumour has it that 1.5 or 1.6-litre petrol versions of the high-compression direct-injection powerplant will appear before too long.

“We won’t be seeing the SkyActiv engine in the Mazda2 any time soon,” Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson told GoAuto at last week’s Melbourne motor show. “Right now it is only for the Japanese domestic market.”

Whether the smallest SkyActiv engines make it into Mazda’s existing DE-series light car launched in 2007 - or are held over for the next-generation Mazda2 due in about 2013 - remains to be seen.

22 center imageLeft: Mazda Australia managing director Doug Dickson at AIMS 2011.

Either way, the Mazda2/Demio cosmetic facelift announced for Japan in late June has actually been available in Australia since Mazda switched from sourcing its smallest model from Thailand in January this year.

At the time Mr Dickson said it returned to receiving its light car from Japan “to be sure of fulfilling customer demand and maintaining momentum in the light car segment”.

“The facelifted ‘2’ is essentially the same car we announced earlier this year – it’s just that Japan has received it a little later than we have,” said Mazda Australia spokesman Steve Maciver.

“And we have nothing to announce right now as far as Mazda2 and SkyActiv is concerned,” he added.

Fuel economy enthusiasts are likely to be disappointed that Australia will miss out on the SkyActiv-powered Mazda2, which is expected to secure around 60 per cent of all sales in Japan.

In the Japan 10-15 test cycle the ‘13-SKYACTIV’ model returns an astounding 3.3 litres per 100km from its 62kW/112Nm 1298cc 1.3-litre direct-injection engine.

In contrast ‘our’ version manages just 6.4L/100km in five-speed manual form and 6.8L/100km with a four-speed automatic.

Mazda’s ‘i-stop’ idle cut-out system aids the 13-SKYACTIV’s frugality, as does the fact that Japanese Mazda2s employ a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in lieu of the torque converter auto offered in Australia.

Besides being quieter and more refined thanks to better airflow management and the introduction of sound-insulating glass, the Mazda2 facelift brings increased body rigidity and revised suspension tuning aimed at better steering, stability and ride qualities, while fresh cabin trim and a restyled front bumper complete the visual makeover.

Of course, Australian owners of the MY11 Mazda2 already know that.

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