What is SkyActiv?
Mazda’s engineers see opportunity where others don’t with its innovative SKYACTIV technology!
Every automotive manufacturer is striving to improve the overall fuel-efficiency of their vehicles while reducing their environmental footprint. To achieve this, many companies are turning to complex hybrid engines by combining electric motors and their complex and costly batteries with different types of diesel or gasoline powertrains. Hybrids are noted for being green, but they require specialty batteries that are costly to maintain, and their disposal raises environmental issues once they have completed their life cycle. Are hybrids and diesels engines the only way we can advance in our drive to produce a greener car – one that saves money and is friendlier to the environment at the same time? Could it be that the combustion engine thas reached its practical limit?
Mazda engineers do not think so- and they developed the technology to prove it. With the introduction of SKYACTIV technology, first witnessed on the Mazda CX-5, and now available on the Mazda 3 and the Mazda 6, Mazda is showing the automotive world that it can improve fuel economy without the need for a complex hybrid powertrain.
SKYACTIV technology achieves its efficiency objectives by leveraging an increased thermal efficiency in the combustion engine, by reducing friction, and by focusing on engineering designed to minimize energy loss. In building a SKYACTIV automobile, engineers also look at the entire vehicle in order to identify areas to lower the weight of various components, and to maximize the inner-workings of a conventional automobile. In other words, Mazda engineers decided against reinventing the wheel. Instead, they simply made sure it was as round as it could be!
The heart of SKYACTIV is the engine. Currently, there are two SKYACTIV-G engines available in the Mazda line-up, including the 2.0 liter, 155 horsepower powerplant found in the Mazda 3 Skyactiv, as well as the 2.5 liter, 184 horsepower engine found in the Mazda CX-5 GT and the 2014 Mazda 6.
The major advantage of the SKYACTIV engine is its high-compression ratio of 13:1. This high compression ratio is unheard of in this price range and helps the engine produce more power from a given quantity of fuel. In other words, you get more power with less fuel consumption. The biggest challenge of a high compression ratio is engine knock, which can occur when high-pressure gases enter the cylinder when it commences its subsequent intake cycle. In order to prevent knocking, Mazda engineers developed a special 4-2-1 exhaust system, which ensures that the high-pressure gases have longer to travel before getting to the next cylinder, thus reducing engine-knock and improving performance.
Inside the engine, an advanced direct injection system acts to stabilize combustion, ensuring that the engine burns its fuel as efficiently and optimally as possible. Moreover, a newly and uniquely designed piston cavity also helps in improving combustion. Finally, many of the engine’s components have been reviewed to ensure that they are as light as can be and work as efficiently as possible in order to reduce internal friction, which inevitably leads to energy loss.
The engine is obviously an important component of any vehicle, but it is the transmission that dictates how power will be transferred to the wheels. In order to ensure that drivers get the most out of their SKYACTIV-G engines, Mazda engineers redesigned both the automatic and manual transmissions in order to preserve Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom! personality without sacrificing fuel efficiency.
Mazda’s Skyactiv-MT 6-speed manual transmission is designed with driving pleasure and performance in mind. When designing the manual transmission for its Mazda 3, Mazda 6, and Mazda CX-5 models, Mazda used the MX-5 as a benchmark. The Skyactiv-MT transmission features the shortest shift stroke in its class, which provides a direct, connected, and effortless driving feel. Moreover, this new 6-speed manual is lighter and more compact, which helps balance the vehicle’s weight distribution and lower its overall weight, ultimately leading to improved fuel-efficiency.
Most manufacturers are turning to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for improved fuel-efficiency and a dual-clutch sport transmission for performance. At Mazda, the engineers wanted both and chose to create a new 6-speed automatic transmission that would incorporate the best features of both types of transmissions. In other words, Mazda looked at most transmissions on the market, took the best components of each, and created the perfect automatic gearbox. A new advanced control module was also integrated into the automatic transmission for improved precision and reliability.
A steady platform
Getting the most out of a vehicle, that is what SKYACTIV is about. After redesigning the engine and both transmissions, Mazda engineers turned to the platform and chassis with the same goal in mind: make everything more efficient in order to lower fuel consumption and improve driving dynamics.
The Skyactiv-platform features a body that is 8% lighter yet 30% more rigid. This added rigidity helps improve both vehicle safety and handling performance. Also, Mazda engineers wanted to create a more connected feel between the driver and the vehicle. To do so, they turned to the suspension and improved low-speed agility while increasing high-speed stability.
Mazda has always liked to do things a little differently. With the introduction of Skyactiv technology, the Japanese manufacturer proves that there is still room to improve a vehicle’s engineering to make it more fuel-efficienct and dynamic without having to turn to hybrid or electric motors. They also did it without losing any of the famous Zoom-Zoom! driving experience that Mazda is famous for.