In order to meet the future carbon dioxide legislation, advanced clean combustion engines are tending to employ low temperature diluted combustion strategies along with intensified cylinder charge motion. The diluted mixtures are made by means of excess air admission or exhaust gas recirculation. A slower combustion speed during the early flame kernel development because of the suppressed mixture reactivity will reduce the reliability of the ignition process and the overall combustion stability. In an effort to address this issue, an ignition strategy using a multi-pole spark igniter is tested in this work. The igniter uses three electrically independent spark gaps to allow three spatially distributed spark discharge. The presence of the three independent poles offers the possibility for the poles to spark at the same time, sequentially, or to be reserved for instrumentation purposes. This arrangement achieves essentially no reduction in the flame travel distance required to reach the boundaries of the cylinder. However, the close proximity can be beneficial in the ignition of marginal mixtures due to high dilution rates, inhomogeneity present, or higher turbulence conditions. The strategy was tested on an engine using gasoline fuel and low load, lean operation at a range of excess air ratios. The results indicated that the combustion phasing parameters were consistently advanced under the multi-pole spark strategy, particularly at higher dilution ratios. In conditions where a conventional single spark exhibited stable operation, relatively little additional benefits were seen with the multi-pole strategy. At higher dilution ratios where the slower combustion process compromised the ability to maintain optimal combustion phasing, the multi-pole spark igniter showed significant advantages in combustion phasing and combustion variability.