Mazda SKYACTIV-G 1.3 direct-injection gasoline engineEnlarge Photo
The 2011 Mazda2 is already one of the most fun small cars on the market, sharing its platform with Ford's Fiesta. It's pretty economical too, but with Mazda's next generation of gasoline engine, it'll become very efficient indeed.
The 1.3-liter Skyactiv-G unit soon to be found in the Mazda2 gets 30 kilometers per liter on Japan's 10-15 mode test cycle. That's just over 70 miles per gallon, with no diesel nor hybrid system in sight. EPA figures are usually 10-20 percent below that of Japanese tests, but even considering that, a worst-case 56 mpg doesn't seem too bad to us.
Behind the ultra-efficiency is the Skyactiv's high compression ratio at 14:1. Normally the high pressures created under such a high ratio would result in knocking, but revised pistons and other modifications have taken care of the problem. Skyactiv-G also uses direct injection and stop-start technology to further increase efficiency on the Japanese cycle.
The engine makes 83 horsepower and 82 pounds-feet of torque, which sits between the two current 1.3-liter MZR units Mazda sells in other markets. Japan loves automatics as much as the U.S. does, and the car manages its 70mpg with a CVT transmission.
Unfortunately for small car fans, the 1.3-liter Skyactiv isn't likely to hit U.S. shores, but a larger 2.0-liter variant with the same technology is due in the Mazda3 and Mazda CX-5 crossover in 2012.