The automotive community was in shock today after a well-known and well-respected journalist let it be known that he does not like diesel-powered cars.
“I’ve never cared for them, really,” said Jimmy “Jim” Hammer-James, a former syndicated automotive columnist for Knight-Rider News, who asked that he not be named for fear of reprisals.
“There’s nothing inherently wrong with diesels,” Hammer-James the journalist told Autoblopnik. “I just don’t like them, and I don’t understand why my colleagues get so excited about them. Sure, they get great fuel economy if you drive five miles per hour under the speed limit on level ground in a perfectly straight line with the A/C off and the sunroof closed, but they’re noisy and the fuel sticks to your shoes and stinks up your car. When my readers tell me they need a car that gets great gas mileage, I tell them to buy a Prius.”
“This creates a serious credibility problem for our industry,” said Berton Bertonsmyth, president of Consolidated Reporters and Automotive Professionals, a trade group for auto writers. “An automotive reporter who doesn’t like diesels is like… is like…”
“Like a germaphobe who doesn’t like soap,” finished his colleague Bill Fannybatter, president of Consolidated Reporters for Awesomely Slick Similes.
Hammer-James the unnamed journalist says he’s surprised at the vitriol he’s received from his colleagues after voicing his opinions on diesels.
“It’s like there’s some sort of unwritten code,” he said. “If you don’t love diesels, you’re not a real auto critic. People say I must hate cars, or I must not be an enthusiast. I’ve owned three BMWs, I’ve got a showroom-condition ’64 GTO, and I’m helping a friend restore his Jaguar E-Type. I love cars. I just don’t like diesels.”
“He’s worse than a mommyblogger,” said Warry Lebster of Toad and Rrack, who asked that we change his name and his publication in order to ensure his anonymity. “He’s worse than a lifestyle journalist. He’s not one of us.”
UPDATE: Autoblopnik has learned that Hammer-James the subject of this story is unhurt after a failed attack by fellow journalists, who doused him with diesel fuel and attempted to set him alight before realizing that diesel fuel does not burn readily.
The diesel community, already reeling from the low 14:1 compression ratio in Mazda’s new Skyactiv-D diesel, were absolutely gob-smacked when Mazda announced that they are developing a new ultra-low compression diesel engine.
The new Skymaster-Z engine uses an 8.5:1 compression ratio, so low that it requires an auxiliary electrical spark system in order to maintain combustion, and requires fuel that is more volatile than standard low-sulfer diesel. Mazda engineers have calibrated the engine to run on ordinary 87-octane gasoline, but this requires retimed single-pulse injectors and a more complicated intake system that premixes the fuel and air in a relatively constant ratio, as opposed to the variable mixture and power-cycle injection used by traditional diesels.
According to Mazda Chief Engineer Ashiro Nakahonda, the Skymister-T engine’s low compression ratio eliminates the need for a turbocharger and allows use of lighter components that can spin faster, raising the redline to 7,000 RPM. The new engine also produces significantly less noise and vibration than a typical diesel and has a markedly different emissions footprint, allowing it to meet 50-state standards with a standard catalytic converter and without the use of an AdBlue-type additive. The trade off is a 75% reduction in torque and higher fuel consumption. The prototype two-liter engine reportedly develops around 140 horsepower but only 135 lb-ft of torque, returning the equivalent of approximately 30 MPG in the EPA city cycle and 40 MPG in the highway cycle when mounted in a C-segment-size car. “While these numbers are not typical of an ordinary turbodiesel engine,” Nakahonda says, “we believe they will be adequate for the American market.”
Diesel nuts who worry about this sort of thing have expressed concern about the lack of upper-cylinder lubrucation due to the engines’ rapid combustion and reduced fuel stratification, but Nakahonda is confident the Skymassive-F engine will achieve a 180,000 mile service life.
Irked at not having anything more technical-sounding to say, Mazda spokesman Jeremiah Burns vamped, “While the Skymatic-P engine does have some trade-offs compared to conventional diesels, we are confident that the lower noise and ease of fuel availability will appeal to American buyers.”
Mazda plans to offer the Skymackerel-Q engine in its popular Mazda3 compact, offsetting its additional cost by making the interior even cheaper and crappier.