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Mazda Axela (Mazda3) with i-stop testing in Australia

Mazda has started local testing of its fuel saving i-stop system on a Mazda Axela (Japan’s version of the Mazda3) ahead of its implementation into Australian-sold vehicles in 2011.
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Engineers from Mazda’s Hiroshima head office are working closely with Mazda Australia to ensure that the system meets Australian standards and is compatible with local fuel quality and climate conditions.

i-stop is Mazda’s name for its engine start/stop technology. The system aims to reduce fuel consumption by automatically turning off the engine when the car comes to a stop.

Designed to improve the efficiency of Mazda’s next-generation direct-injection engines, i-stop uses combustion energy to restart the engine in 0.35 seconds. The starter motor also applies some additional momentum to the crankshaft for a faster and more refined start.

Mazda Australia national marketing manager, Alastair Doak, said i-stop’s fuel savings ability was already well established throughout Europe and Japan.

“With much of Australian driving taking place in suburban environments, i-stop will bring significant real-world fuel savings to Australian Mazda customers from next year,” Mr Doak said.

Mazda’s i-stop-compatible SKYACTIV-G petrol engine and SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission are set to go on sale in Australia from 2011.

Mazda Australia’s Steve Maciver would not confirm which vehicles would be the first to feature i-stop technology and SKYACTIV powertrains in Australia, and said the local testing of the Axela was no indication that the Mazda3 would be the first.

Despite this, it is expected a 2.0-litre SKYACTIV variant of the Mazda3 capable of achieving combined cycle fuel consumption around 6.0 litres/100km may be among the first to arrive next year.

Mazda Japan has also revealed the new Demio (Mazda2) equipped with SKYACTIV and i-stop technology is capable of fuel consumption of around 4.4 litres/100km (converted to Australian standards).

Both the Mazda3 and Mazda2 seem likely starting places for Mazda Australia, with Mazda6 and CX-7 expected to follow shortly after, and include the SKYACTIV-D diesel engine from 2012.