This prototype may look like a darkened Mazda3, but it's all new beneath the skin.

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In addition to rocking an all-new, seventh-generation platform, the hatchback also features the new Skyactiv-X powerplant prototype.

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The engine is unique in that it burns gasoline, but makes use of high-compression for combustion like a diesel.

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Mazda's engine does use a precisely timed spark to aid in controlling the combustion. 

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To aid in creating the very lean conditions that the engine needs to operate efficiently, Mazda has equipped Skyactiv-X with a small supercharger.

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Even the exhaust gas recirculation emissions system is temperature controlled.

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An extremely high-pressure direct fuel injection system and in-cylinder pressure sensors are used to fine-tune the combustion cycle in realtime.

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The prototypes feature very basic interiors with some areas covered by simple plastic shrouds.

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Each example featured a small display on the dashboard that indicated what combustion the engine was operating in while we drove.

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Illuminating different icons indicated whether the engine was using spark combustion, spark controlled compression ignition or running in a lean-burn mode.

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In addition to leaning about the Mazda3's future, I was also able to visit with its great-great-great-grandpappy, the 1978 Mazda GLC.

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You can learn more about how Skyactiv-X works and how it rides in our full article or just keep clicking through for more photos.

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