For years and years, Mazda Motor promised to bring a clean, affordable diesel to Canadian and U.S. buyers, only to back away, year after year.

Well, the diesel promise is back.

Mazda has announced it will offer the SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine in the all-new Mazda CX-5 in the second half of 2017. Mazda’s first North American diesel will be “torque-rich,” meet strict emission standards and will come with Natural Sound Smoother and Natural Sound Frequency Control technologies to reduce diesel knock and deliver a “pleasing sound,” says Mazda.

To clean up emissions, Mazda’s diesel will have a treatment system commonly referred to as selective catalytic reduction or SCR. Like the German diesels that dominate SUV diesel sales in Canada, ammonia or urea will be added to the exhaust gas to clean up emissions.

If you’re keeping score, you know Mazda had promised to sell a SKYACTIV D with ultra-low-compression that would deliver all the benefits of the best European diesels without the urea treatment. Forget that. As for power, this diesel will likely be rated at 173 horsepower/310 pound-feet of torque.

Mazda is going against the anti-diesel tide sparked by Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal for its small displacement diesels. But Mazda knows diesels. Last year, Mazda accounted for 70 per cent of diesel sales in the Japanese market.

The diesel-powered CX-5 will certainly help Mazda to retain the title of manufacturer with the highest overall fuel economy rating in the U.S. And it fits with Mazda’s belief that in the near-term, car companies will meet fuel economy and emissions standards by offering a combination of pure electrics, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, diesels and gasoline engines.

Many equate diesels with so-called Dieselgate – with cheating. Mazda has plenty of work ahead to change consumer perceptions.

Good luck with that.


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