If you want a car that's enjoyable to drive, you owe it to yourself to swing by the Mazda dealership. Every vehicle the company builds gets an added dose of sporty driving character. But Mazda has also quietly turned itself into an MPG leader over the past several years with its thrifty SkyActiv family of engines. Now, the automaker is doing something particularly revolutionary to boost the economy of its gasoline engines: Removing the spark plugs entirely.
According to , next-generation SkyActiv engines won't use spark plugs at all. Instead, they'll borrow a page out of the diesel engine's book and use compression ignition.
Called Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition, it's a technology that promises diesel-like fuel economy out of gasoline engines. HCCI isn't a new concept—numerous major automakers have built experimental concepts powered by HCCI engines—though Mazda stands to be the first automaker to use it in production vehicles. Reportedly, it will improve gas mileage by 30 percent, while also reducing emissions.
The 2018 Mazda3 is the first car expected to use the new engine design, with the rest of the lineup getting it over the next few years.