We’ve been waiting with bated breath for finalised details of Mazda’s novel SkyActiv-X engine, and Hiroshima has finally given us the lowdown. The Spark Plug Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) mill, which is now on sale in Europe in the new Mazda 3, promises to deliver the free-revving performance of a petrol engine and the torque and fuel efficiency of a diesel, and these figures make for interesting reading.

The 2.0 litre petrol engine delivers 180 PS at 6,000 rpm and 224 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm, figures that compare favourably to the 155 PS and 199 Nm produced by the regular 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G. Notably, peak torque arrives 1,000 rpm lower for the SkyActiv-X mill, which should result in punchier in-gear acceleration.

And while the compression ratio is rated at a heady 16.3:1, the engine can still run on regular RON 95 petrol, not some high-octane unobtanium fuel. It is paired to a choice of six-speed SkyActiv-MT manual and SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmissions, with an i-Activ all-wheel drive system available as an option.

SkyActiv-X models also come as standard with Mazda M Hybrid, a 24-volt mild hybrid system that recuperates kinetic energy to power an electric motor that assists during acceleration. Put that all together and Mazda claims a combined fuel consumption figure of as low as 5.4 litres per 100 km is possible (front-wheel drive manual sedan with the smaller 16-inch wheels) – and that’s on the more stringent WLTP cycle.

With an automatic gearbox and larger 18-inch wheels that we usually get here, this figure goes up to 6.2 litres per 100 km (6.3 litres per 100 km on the hatchback), which is still an impressive feat. Carbon dioxide emissions, meanwhile, are as low as 122 grams per kilometre on the combined cycle.

In case you need a refresher, the SkyActiv-X engine features compression ignition typically found in diesel engines, enabling the use of a much leaner air-fuel ratio provided through a supercharger. It still employs spark plugs to control the ignition timing, allowing for the use of compression ignition in a much broader range of conditions (up to 90% of the time, Mazda claims).

The technology is so effective, the company says, that the 2.0 litre SkyActiv-X engine’s fuel efficiency equals or even exceeds that of the 1.5 litre SkyActiv-D diesel engine. The mill is also claimed to offer improved response and between 10 to 30% more torque compared to the 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G engine, which Mazda says is equivalent to the larger 2.5 litre motor.

Our Bahasa Malaysia colleagues have driven a prototype version of the SkyActiv-X engine, and you can read the translated version here.

GALLERY: 2019 Mazda 3