2020 Mazda3 SkyActiv-X Does Live Up To (High) Expectations

Mazda’s latest technological advancement is the SkyActiv-X, a petrol engine that works like a diesel, providing the extra torque at lower revs and being friendlier to the environment.

The Euro-spec version of the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder unit produces 180 PS (177 hp / 132 kW) and 224 Nm (165 lb-ft) of torque. On average, it returns 52.3 mpg UK (43.5 mpg US / 5.4 l/100 km) and emits just 96 grams of CO2 per km in the Mazda3. These numbers were measured in the WLTP cycle and depend on the transmission and wheel size.

Also Read: Mazda Is Working On New Straight-Six Skyactiv-X Engines

Available in the both hatchback and saloon body styles, the SkyActiv-X can be matched to either a six-speed manual or, optionally, a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Mazda will also offer the SkyActiv-X in the States, only in a slightly different tune. Instead of the Euro-spec version’s 16:1 compression, it has a 15:1 rate so that it can function properly with the U.S. market’s lower octane gasoline.

So, how does the Mazda3 feel like in this grade? Like a quiet diesel and more responsive than you’d expect, although with the refinement of a petrol unit, according to CarsGuide, who traveled to Germany to drive it. And the best part is that, aside from the SkyActiv-X badge and larger exhaust tips, it looks the same as the rest of the lineup.


  • Bash

    I like this hatch inside out, but I keep thinking if that C pillar is fine or would cause some visibility issues.

    • salamOOn

      i dont think it would be a problem. you have blind spot detection, 360 camera….it will help.

    • TurboScooter

      I’ve read where is does have a somewhat negative effect on rearward visibility.

      • Giziclown

        Write in English, please.

    • alexxx

      Probably would cause…I like Mazdas design but that c pillar is a tad too thick…
      P.S. I often wonder why I see very few mazda6 cars,but passats and insignias all over place?!
      They have nice designs and good quality… It’s beyond me… Maybe they need a halo car to lift their brand image…


  • SteveHood

    Where did the 15:1 compression ratio info come from?

    • HeadBooter

      SkyActiv-G for several years. My 2015 6 is 15:1 and runs great on 91 octane.

      Note that you must run synthetic racing oil – Royal Purple, etc. I always use synthetics anyway, so no biggie.

      100K miles, looks, runs, and drives new. I did put Michelin ATS Sport rubber on it…do that ASAP. A very good ride and road feel got amazing.

      No issues whatsoever. Best car I’ve owned,

  • Aeromann


    They should do MPS versions.

  • Super Rob

    What rpm does the 165lb of torque come in at? That is the key. Infiniti has their engine that can do this and it’s not getting anything special in mileage. Bring on the First Drives review.

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      I believe peak torque arrives at 3000 rpm.

      • Super Rob

        That’s not too bad.

    • Camaro69

      Nissan’s deal is NOT the same. It has variable compression but the actual mixture in the cylinder is the same as a regular engine and not lean like in the Mazda. I believe the Mazda should easily meet it’s mpg ratings compared to all the little turbo motors that struggle to do that.

  • Frank Finkelstein

    No mention of the enormous premium paid over the gas engine. How many hundreds of thousand of miles to break even?

    • Joe

      Yeah, it costs 670,000 yen (about 25-27%) more over the regular 2.0 of the corresponding Mazda 3 grades in Japan, pushing it above the price of the corresponding petrol-engined Mazda 6. Very steep for a Japanese compact in Japan, vastly more expensive than any of its local rivals, but I guess on par for the upper mid-range Golfs, which have import tax etc to contend with.

      To show this, using the Proactive and L Package grades as examples (there are others amongst):
      Mazda 3 20S Skyactiv Proactive = 2,470,000
      Mazda 3 20S Skyactiv L Package = 2,649,000
      Volkswagen Golf 1.2 TSI Comfortline = 2,799,000
      Mazda 6 20S Skyactiv Proactive = 3,034,800
      Mazda 3 20X Skyactiv-X Proactive = 3,140,000
      Mazda 3 20X Skyactiv-X L Package = 3,319,000
      Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Highline = 3,319,000

      That 670,000 yen premium will almost buy you a base model Daihatsu Hijet Truck, at 680,400 (the 660cc Standard with no A/C or anything) and the cheapest new vehicle you can buy there.

      So yeah that’ll take a loooooong time to break even/recover, although no finalised fuel efficiency and environmental performance figures are announced for the Skyactiv-X yet to directly compare. I guess you’d hope its emissions figures would be significantly better, which would give it much lower tax rates that would also help offset the high cost… but I’m not so sure, since it’s still not really electrified/hybridised…

      • redav

        We’ll have to wait to see how it’s priced in other markets. The company has said they it’s barely more expensive to make (less than a diesel or hybrid) but they can’t price it lower than what the market is willing to pay. In the US, for example, there’s no realistic way to charge ANY premium for the 2.0L Sky-X engine over the 2.5L Sky-G (which is the their base engine) because Americans are loathe to pay more for less power/torque.

        That means either they dramatically change the tune (or develop a 2.5L Sky-X) for the US market that is more powerful than the 2.5L or they can only have a premium of ~$500 or less.

      • Bart

        It’s already a mild hybrid.

        And in Europe this new Mazda3 is crazy expensive even with the 120hp motor. They’re going for that premium market for real.

  • SteersUright

    2.0 with sky-high compression and it can’t even output more than 100hp/L??
    Fuel economy never all that impressive in the real-world either, so what’s the point? When Ferrari, Honda, BMW or others do high-compression it results in real power gains. Whats missing here?

    • PhilMcGraw

      Honda and BMW use turbochargers though right? I would imagine a turbo Skyactiv X would give a higher output.

      • Matt

        I think he was referring to their older N/A engines, hence the ‘high compression’. Turbocharged engines run a lower compression.

      • cartube

        nope, It’s an extremely high compression engine so you can’t turbo charge it. Most turbo engine are 9:1-11:1 compression ratio for that reason.

    • WillG

      Its high compression for the purpose of fuel economy not power. Its not really fair to compare a high compression Ferrari v8 to this little 4 cylinder in a sub 30 grand Mazda

    • redav

      This engine is ~20% more efficient (real-world to real-world comparison) than their prior Skyactiv-G engine while delivering ~15% more power & 10% more torque than that engine, but you’re complaining that it doesn’t deliver 100 hp/liter? Why not complain that it also doesn’t wash your laundry?

    • Giziclown

      Your rational thinking!

  • Mike Gonzalez

    In other reviews I heard it’s quite tamed for a 180hp engine…

  • james

    Can get a standard Model 3 for about this price

  • Kevin Gregerson

    So the us version could be 20 percent more efficient if we ran premium fuel?

    • OhHiThere

      Where did you read that??

  • JqC

    This would have been really exciting news…. 10 years ago. Now, if you’re not talking battery electric, you aren’t innovating. I’m sorry to say it, especially because i love the Mazda brand and design oh so much, but what Mazda has just done here is the equivalent of inventing a far smoother and more efficient horse-tethering system for horse-drawn carriages….. in the year 1907.

    • Giziclown

      You are ignorant, look around there is no good battery option at all, if you have no ideas what this engine about, then keep your ideas for yourself.

  • That’s a sad innovation driven by regulations. A 2L 4 pots with a Turbo would have a bit more power, more torque… And be way more fun. Not even sure it would get much worst fuel economy. Diesels are great for fuel economy (and range) and torque. This has no numbers that look great. Maybe the torque is lower in the revs… But it would be enough with a Turbo. In a Miata cool… In a daily driver it’s depressing. I love Mazda, they have great Diesel engines, but their petrol engines are underpowered for their SUVs and Sedans.

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