Mazda is reportedly pushing its SkyActiv technology to the limit, with a new wave of petrol engines that may render the diesel passenger car redundant.
The SkyActiv units already boast some of the highest compression ratios in the business, up to 14:1, but Nikkei reports the carmaker may stretch this even further.
The result could be petrol engines with compression ratios as high as 18:1. That puts them in diesel territory, and means they can potentially operate without spark plugs.
Like a diesel, the new SkyActiv donks may ignite the fuel and air mixture simply through compression. The desired result would be ultra-frugal fuel economy (up to 30 percent improvement) and low emissions, without the drawbacks associated with current-day diesels (such as particulate filters).
The high-compression SkyActiv engines have further benefits over diesels as well. Lower construction costs are a likely win, along with longer service intervals and the ability to deliver satisfactory performance without the need for turbocharging.
And Mazda could come out swinging with the new technology; raising the eyebrows of its competitors by plonking the new engines straight into the new 2018 Mazda3.
Should it succeed, the technology could provide a lifeline for the internal combustion engine in the face of ever-stricter emissions laws and the impending arrival of mainstream electric vehicles. Watch this space.