While U.S. buyers continue waiting for a promised diesel version of the Mazda 6 sedan, Mazda is set to unveil another diesel model for other markets.

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 is the brand's entry into the booming subcompact crossover field, and it will also be the next Mazda to forgo spark plugs.

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In fact, the CX-3 will be offered only with a diesel engine in its home market of Japan, CEO Masamichi Kogai told Reuters during the CX-3's launch there.

Japan isn't generally considered a strong market for diesels.

2016 Mazda CX-3

2016 Mazda CX-3

Diesels made up less than 3 percent of new-car sales in the country last year, and they reportedly suffer an image problem from being called a health hazard by a former Tokyo governor.

The compression-ignition engines are globally most popular in Europe, where they make up roughly half of all new-car sales in the European Union.

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Yet Kogai believes more Japanese buyers are considering diesel. Offering the engines in the CX-3 also follows Mazda's current strategy of increasing fuel efficiency without relying on hybrid powertrains.

The Japanese CX-3 will be offered only with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that wears the same SkyActiv-D badging as the larger 2.2-liter four promised for the U.S.-market Mazda 6 sedan.

2016 Mazda CX-3

2016 Mazda CX-3

That engine's U.S. launch has been repeatedly delayed because, Mazda claims, it doesn't meet the company's performance expectations.

Meanwhile, the only engine option for the U.S.-market CX-3 will be a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder.

It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

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The CX-3 goes on sale in Japan this week, with U.S. sales set to begin in the next couple of months--powered only by gasoline.

Mazda plans to build 150,000 copies of the crossover per year, and sell it in 120 countries.


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