First Drive

2018 Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X prototype - verdict

This Mazda 3 prototype's clever Skyactiv-X engine mixes petrol and diesel tech to improve emissions and economy. It's only an early taster, but things look promising

Words By Alan Taylor-Jones

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At this point, it seems unfair to score the prototype 3 against rivals; we are, after all, more than a year away from seeing and driving the finished article. What we can say is that there is a great deal of promise in the new technology, and this new 3 feels totally normal despite the complexity of its new engine.

If the promised economy and emissions gains are realised with healthy performance, it really could be a major step forward for the combustion engine.

Don’t expect it to be in every Mazda, though. Like hybrid systems, the technology comes at a cost that’s likely to make the Skyactiv-X one of the more expensive engine options in any model it slots into.

Still, the combination of diesel-like running costs, low NOX emissions and smooth running with strong performance could make it a premium well worth paying for private and company car buyers alike.

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