With the imminent arrival of the Mazda3 powered by the turbo engine, we ask what exactly is a turbo engine? And how does it compare to a traditional engine? Meet Jay Chen, a Mazda engineering expert, who has the answers to the questions you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

Story Charlotte Briggs


DID YOU KNOW? Jay used to be the Engineering Editor of Sport Compact Car magazine.

A. Hi, my name's Jay Chen. I'm the manager of the Powertrain Performance group here at Mazda North American Operations R&D. 

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Basically, I spend a lot of time driving around cars and making sure that they drive as a Mazda should.  

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DID YOU KNOW? The turbocharger forces more air into the engine, which means more power.

A. In a way you can imagine the engine as your lungs. You can only fill your lungs with so much air. 

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What a turbocharger does is that basically it acts as another pump to force air into, potentially my lungs, which will probably hurt, or into an engine, which gives it more air. And more air means more power

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DID YOU KNOW? Mazda has developed the turbo technology in conjunction with the Skyactiv engine to maximize performance.

A. For the Mazda case, when we decided to design the Skyactiv Turbo engine it was designed to replace a six-cylinder engine. So, this six-pack of soda here is your six cylinders. 

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We wanted to make the same power, which meant it needs the same amount of air. But we didn't want to have all the weight of a six-pack.

So, if we took off two cylinders and we put a turbocharger on it, now we can displace the same amount of air by using this turbocharging pump. And we have less friction, less weight, and less space

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q. How does the Mazda Turbo engine differ from other Turbo engines on the market?

DID YOU KNOW? The turbo engine is going to be added to the Mazda3 and is also available in the Mazda CX-9, Mazda CX-5, and Mazda6.

A. A conventional turbocharger takes time to spool up and then deliver the air into the engine. That means it takes time for you to get your power.

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Mazda put a lot of effort into redeveloping our turbochargers, even the engine itself, so that we can extract the most response out of the turbocharge engine.

If you can get the turbocharger to deliver air faster, suddenly you can use that air instantly when you step on the gas.

We are building an engine that was meant to replace a V6 engine, but still retain all the benefits: the response, the drivability

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q. Why is the Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo engine being introduced into the Mazda3?

DID YOU KNOW? The engine makes 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque with premium (93 octane) fuel. It makes 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque with regular (87 octane) fuel.

A. When Mazda developed this Skyactiv Turbo engine it was designed to replace a V6 engine. It was meant to go into the CX-9 SUV which is a large three-row vehicle. 

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So, I have here a large three-row SUV and in the past, there were my six cylinders inside of it.

Well, as we developed our CX-9 we’ve now taken two cylinders off it and we’ve put our turbocharger onto it.

So now we’re forcing air into four cylinders that weigh less, take up less space, have less friction.

Well, this combination here turned out to be so fun in the CX-9 that we started applying the same Skyactiv Turbo engine inside of the CX-5 and now the Mazda6 sedan.

Now we're putting it into the Mazda3, a much smaller vehicle. So, now you have the same high torque, instant response and driving experience that you have available in the larger sedans and SUVs, but now you have it in a very small vehicle. 

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To find out more about the Mazda Turbo engine, click on the link below.