Mazda2 first diesel eco-car unleashed

Mazda2 first diesel eco-car unleashed

Exports to Australia and Europe projected

Mazda is set to become the first brand in Thailand to locally produce and sell a small car with a diesel engine.

The new Mazda2 hatchback and saloon — the latter's body style will make its world premiere at the Motor Expo on Nov 28 — will be built according to eco-car rules when sales start next January.

Although the Thai government's eco-car project has an incentive for diesel engines, no car maker has used it since the scheme started over four years ago. Now that the engine size ceiling for diesel has been raised from 1,400cc to 1,500cc in the second phase, Mazda will use its new 1.5-litre SkyActiv diesel engine.

The motor produces 105 horsepower and can achieve 26.4 kilometres per litre under the Japanese driving cycle mode when equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and stop/start system, exceeding the 23.3 km/litre eco-car requirement.

Although diesel engines remain more expensive to make than their petrol counterparts, Mazda Sales (Thailand) said economies of scales would be raised by exports to Australia and Europe.

Pricing was not disclosed, but the Mazda2 1.5-litre diesel model is expected to vie with the Honda Jazz, one of the B-segment cars in Thailand not classified as an eco-car, meaning a cost of 600,000 to 750,000 baht depending on specifications.

Mazda will chase sales when a petrol version of the Mazda2 is released. Although no time frame is available, the engine needs to displace less than 1,300cc to compete with eco-cars like the Nissan March/Almera in price, at 450,000 to 600,000 baht.

A third variation of the Mazda2 — an SUV/crossover called the CX-3 — makes its world premiere in Los Angeles later this month. Although the CX-3 could be classed an eco-car, an executive cautioned the comparatively heavier body than the hatchback and saloon might make it exceed the 23.3 km/litre and 100 grammes/km of CO2 benchmarks.

Mazda is expected to make the CX-3 affordable in Thailand to compete with the Ford Ecosport and Nissan Juke, both available only with petrol models. The Honda HR-V, another locally built petrol model, goes on sale next month.

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