This Video Shows Exactly How Mazda's 'Revolutionary' New Skyactiv-X Engine Works

Mazda is promising the power and economy of diesel and the performance and emissions of gasoline, all in one supercharged package.

YouTube | Mazda

The Tokyo Motor Show has brought us several delights from the Land of the Rising Sun, but none are quite as intriguing (or ambitious) as Mazda's new Skyactiv-X engine architecture. The "revolutionary" new powerplant promises to provide both the torque and fuel economy of a diesel and the performance and emissions of a regular gas engine, all while saving internal combustion power from the executioner's electric sword. But how will it work exactly?

Mazda claims to have finally perfected their own version of homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), which has been something of a white whale for many automakers in recent years. At the risk of over-explaining, gasoline engines work by using a spark plug to ignite a mixture of fuel and air, while diesel engines compress the air in a cylinder before adding fuel, which then spontaneously ignites.

One of the key differences is that a gas engine's spark plug is a single source of ignition within a cylinder, while the compressed air in a diesel ignites at multiple points throughout the chamber. Compression ignition requires less fuel and burns quickly and completely, so bringing that technology to life in a gasoline engine should theoretically bring all the benefits of a diesel without all those problematic emissions.

Sounds great, right? The problem is that the window where compression ignition is possible with regular gasoline is incredibly small, and so many different elements have to be controlled for it to work correctly. It's used by a lot of Formula 1 teams thanks to its incredible potential, though neither 2017 champion Mercedes-AMG nor runner-up Ferrari employ it in their engines. But Mazda's approach is unique, utilizing a small spark plug to help initiate the compression ignition sequence, a feature than can activate or deactivate based on engine demands (in other words, your right foot).

Combined with a supercharger, this new take, dubbed Spark Controlled Compression Igntion (SPCCI), promises 30 percent more torque, a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy, and sharper response overall compared to the company's 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G gas engine. We'll have to wait until the 2020 Mazda3 to see its first real-world application, but in the meantime, head over to Mazda's website for a much more detailed explanation.