The updated 2018 Mazda CX-5

At a press event for ASEAN media last week, Mazda outlined its product update strategy for 2018, which will encompass the aspects of powertrain, safety, comfort and quality. More than just a facelift, these revisions will give buyers a taste of Hiroshima’s next-generation features and technologies before the introduction of all-new models in 2019 at the earliest.

Dubbed “6.5 Generation Technology,” these updates will provide a bridge between the current lineup and upcoming models like the next Mazda 3. They will incorporate and showcase some of the concepts and technologies that will be found on new-generation Mazdas.

Some of the models that have already received these changes this year include the new Mazda 6 – which underwent a significant nip and tuck, its second since the third-generation model was unveiled back in 2012 – as well as the CX-5 and Japan-only CX-8. Next on the cards is the facelifted CX-3, set to be introduced in Japan in the coming months.

Mazda says that the updates are intended to create a feeling of effortless performance, with the ultimate goal of providing a stress-free driving environment. This is spearheaded by improvements made to the SkyActiv-G petrol and SkyActiv-D turbodiesel engines, which are torquier and more fuel efficient.

On the 2.0 and 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated SkyActiv-G mills, there’s a 15% increase in efficiency and low- to mid-range torque, the latter for a more “nimble and torquey” performance. The biggest change is the inclusion of cylinder deactivation on the 2.5 litre unit, which enables the engine to run on two cylinders and ensures that its renown combustion efficiency is maintained even at low loads.

Other tweaks include improved knock resistance and reduced mechanical resistance, as well as a coolant control valve for better thermal management. More advanced multi-hole fuel injectors have also been incorporated to allow the engine to pass the more stringent Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) adopted in Europe.

Meanwhile, the 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D oil burner now utilises rapid multistage combustion, made possible through the use of ultra-high response, multi-hole piezo fuel injectors that create a finer fuel spray – again, to make the engine WLTP-compliant.

Click to enlarge

The sequential twin-turbocharged engine also gets a new large variable geometry turbocharger for increased mid- to high-end torque output, as well as smoother performance at higher revs. There are also improvements to real-world fuel economy and engine noise reduction.

Output figures for the petrol engines are all but identical – the 2.0 litre makes 156 PS at 6,000 rpm and 199 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, while the 2.5 litre produces 190 PS at 6,000 rpm and 252 Nm at 4,000 rpm. But it’s the 2.2 litre diesel that gets the biggest increases, with power jumping by 15 PS to 190 PS at 4,500 rpm and torque by 30 Nm to 450 Nm at 2,000 rpm.

Mazda has also paid attention to the dynamic quality of its updated models, particularly the new Mazda 6 and the upcoming facelifted CX-3. The company has incorporated a human-centric approach to this, with particular emphasis on the way they hear. In simple terms, the improvements will provide a linear improvement in comfort and noise reduction, which would not be noticed by the driver or passengers.

In terms of safety, Mazda intends to make its i-ActiveSense driver assistance systems a standard feature on all models, as it has already done in Japan. A new feature in the arsenal is Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC), now with a Stop & Go function that will allow the car to come to a complete stop on its own in a traffic jam. A 360-degree View Monitor has also been introduced.

Last but not least are improvements in perceived quality, with the two models highlighted by Mazda being the CX-8 and Mazda 6. The CX-8, the company claims, features an interior of a much higher surface quality than previous models, while the new Mazda 6 incorporates a dashboard and cabin design that previews those of future Mazdas.

Mind you, Mazda is saving its big guns for next year, with its pioneering SkyActiv-X petrol engines with spark-controlled compression ignition (SPCCI) expected to finally enter production. Mild hybrid and battery electric vehicles are also set to be introduced in 2019, as are a new MZD Connect infotainment system, next-generation SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture and phase two of the Kodo design language.

GALLERY: Mazda CX-8 in Japan

GALLERY: 2018 Mazda 6