Mazda will offer both a small gas engine and a new diesel for the 2014 Mazda6 sedan.

Mazda will launch a diesel version of its new midsize Mazda6 sedan during the second half of 2013, the maker confirmed during an LA Auto Show news conference – and while the maker won’t release official figures until closer to launch, a well-placed source said the maker is looking to match hybrid-level fuel economy numbers with the package.

Mazda is the latest manufacturer to announce plans to enter the diesel market, a niche largely populated by European makers, such as Audi which earlier announced plans to add four new diesels to its U.S. line-up next year.

The new Mazda6 itself was earlier previewed during an introduction in, of all places, Moscow over the summer. The sedan is an example of the Japanese maker’s aggressive new Kodo design language which features a low-slung nose and aggressive wheel bulges intended to deliver a sense of power and agility.

The 2014 Mazda6 will be produced in Japan, Mazda having all but totally walked away from what remained of its long-standing alliance with Ford Motor Co.  It produced the last of the old Mazda6 sedans at a factory they shared in Detroit several months ago.

According to Takashi Yamanouchi, the CEO of Mazda Motor Co., the maker has “pour(ed) our heart and soul” into the new sedan, which is meant to serve as the flagship of the brand and the embodiment of its design and technology capabilities.

That said, the Mazda6 is just the latest in a growing line-up of products incorporating the new SkyActiv technology. While much of the focus is on the powertrain side, SkyActiv is actually a mix of engineering strategies that include “lightweighting” and more aggressive aerodynamics.

But there’s no question that engine and transmission systems are critical. The new Mazda6 SkyActiv package will reach market early next year with a 2.5-liter gasoline inline-four that is expected to match or exceed the best mileage in the segment. That would suggest something at or above the 38 mpg of the latest Nissan Altima.

As with a number of other automakers, Mazda has chosen to drop any V-6 option for the 2014 Mazda6. But unlike Hyundai, Kia, Ford and others, it won’t have a turbo or a hybrid, either.  Instead, it plans to push into the extremes of fuel economy with the SkyActive-D diesel.

(Audi adding four new diesels to U.S. line-up in 2013. Click Here for the story.)

Final specs likely won’t be available until closer to launch during the second half of 2013 but initial indications are in the range of 170 horsepower and a full 300-plus pound-feet of torque.

As for mileage, the official line is that it will be “exceedingly competitive” with hybrid offerings, such as the new Ford Fusion. That would suggest numbers pushing into the mid-40 mpg range.

Mazda’s commitment to diesel power will extend from the road to the track. The maker last summer revealed plans to take its diesel technology racing and at the LA show revealed a modified version of the new Mazda6 will line up on the starting grid of the Rolex 24 endurance race in Daytona next January. It will be the first “oil burner” to run in the widely watched race.

The GX Class entry is expected to turn out about 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque – even though 60% of its components will be from the stock SkyActiv-D engine.

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