Introduced last year, we're now starting to see Mazda's Skyactiv technology integrated into new models. Despite the name which sounds like an infotainment system, its a much bigger, and more important project. It's creating a whole new segment of super fuel efficient gasoline powered cars. Mazda says that the name is representative of their feeling that "the sky's the limit".
Skyactiv is Mazda's name for their new approach to improved fuel efficiency, engine output, road handling and packaging by combining all new engines and transmissions with a simple and light body structure.
Last year the manufacturer introduced it's new CX-5, the first vehicle to use the new technology. Since then, the company has implemented Skyactiv into other models, including the 2014 Mazda6. Previously not a big seller in Canada, the Mazda6 has been dramatically improved enough that it's a worthy challenger to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. On April 17, the Mazda6 was a finalist for AJAC's first annual Green Car of the Year award, a big part of which was due to it's super efficiency.
In 2008, Mazda committed to improving the fuel economy of their fleet by 30% by the year 2015. The immediately discarded the idea of going with hybrid because to meet 2014 emissions requirements, they'd have to sell 30% as hybrids, and they didn't feel that there are enough electric customers interested yet. As noted by the company's "Zoom Zoom" mantra, Mazda likes their cars to be fun, and there's nothing fun about driving a hybrid. Mazda decided to focus on the core technologies of today's conventional cars, and improving and optimizing as much as possible.
Mazda realized that for Skyactiv to be a success, they had to redo everything from the ground up. This isn't as easy as it may seem- even in "all new" vehicles things are recycled. The engine in a recent Mazda3 is still using the transmission that started out in the 1980 323. This clearly wasn't going to be as simple as dropping a lighter motor and tranny into a pre-existing chassis. The even engineered a new line of automatic transmissions to compliment the Skyactiv engines, developing quicker shifting transmissions that bring together all of the best features of an automatic, a CVT and a dual-clutch transmission.
As much as 80 percent of the energy contained in automotive fuel is lost within the powertrain, as it fails to be transferred to motive power. While many other manufacturers are trying to refine engines by making them smaller or other ways, Mazda is pursuing ideal combustion and has focused it's efforts on creating the ideal engine configuration instead, calling it the Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engine. The HCCI combines the advantages of both gasoline and diesel engines. They've implemented a high compression 4-cylinder engine, paired to direct injection technology.
A major aspect of Skyactiv is a set of new high compression engines. The SkyActiv-G gasoline engine maintains a 13:1 compression ratio- the highest seen to date on any dealership lot. This high ratio means that less fuel is burned to generate power, and that less is wasted during cold starts, as the catalytic converter is able to warm up much faster. With a series of significant engine and transmission modifications, with the CX-5 Mazda has created the most fuel efficient crossover on the market, even better than hybrids in it's class. The company's SkyActive-D diesel engine is revolutionary, getting nearly unbelievable power numbers - torque of 340 pounds at only 2000 rpm, and impressing us with 20% better fuel economy than their existing European diesel. It's got the lowest compression ratio of any diesel currently available on the market, can rev at 5200 rpm (higher than any other), and meets government emissions regulations.
Since limiting their partnership with Ford, Mazda has developed a new platform that can be modified from vehicle to vehicle. For example, the Mazda6 platform is simply a stretched version of the new CX-5 platform. Making things simple reduces costs, freeing up money for refinement Their newer vehicles are said to be the best looking in a long time.
Pulling such impressive under the hood technologies with a flexible platform, improved ride quality and a better driving experience, Mazda just may be revolutionizing the internal combustion engine, much to the joy of drivers everywhere.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca