For the past few years, automakers have been introducing a number of new words and terms to describe their new technologies that help improve fuel economy and emissions. Words like hybrid, EcoBoost, Energi, eAssist, EcoTech, Earth Dreams, Hybrid Synergy Drive; the list goes on and on.
Mazda is the latest automaker to jump on the buzzword bandwagon with SKYACTIV Technologies. When Mazda introduced it back in 2011, everyone was left scratching their heads, wondering what it was. Well, what Mazda introduced is a unique way of increasing fuel economy and retaining performance, without using any hybrid tricks.
"SKYACTIV Technology" is an umbrella term for all technology and clever tricks that Mazda is implementing on their new vehicles. The two main parts of SKYACTIV are the powertrain and vehicle structure. Think of SKYACTIV Technolgy as a holistic approach to improving fuel economy, while retaining the zoom-zoom Mazda is known for.
The first part of SKYACTIV Technolgy deals with the powertrain. Mazda introduced two new gas engines - the SKYACTIV-G 2.0L and SKYACTIV-G 2.5L. These two engines are packing some clever engineering and tech to help improve efficiency and economy.
To start, both engines come equipped with direct-injection which injects gasoline into the cylinder. This improves efficiency and increases power. Next, Mazda engineers designed a exhaust manifold which allows the engine compression to be at an impressive 13:1 ratio. To put that into perspective, many diesel engines use that same ratio to help compress the fuel. Finally, the SKYACTIV-G engines have a unique piston design. All in all, the SKYACTIV-G engines make very good use of a gallon of gas.
Coming later this year will be a SKYACTIV-D (diesel) engine which will come with many of the same technologies as the SKYACTIV-G engines.
Next up are the transmissions. Mazda offers two different SKYACTIV transmissions. First is the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual which is compact and lighter than a comparable manual transmission. The SKYACTIV-MT six-speed packs a short throw and a light feel.
The second transmission is the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic. The SKYACTIV-Drive uses a torque converter to get you going when leaving a stop. After reaching a certain speed, the torque converter locks up and the transmission switches to a clutch pack that provides lighting-fast shifts.
The other part of SKYACTIV Technology deals with the vehicle structure. Mazda engineers knew that adding lightness would not help improve fuel economy, it would make their vehicles more fun to drive. But adding lightness reduces the overall strength of the vehicle, right? No. Mazda employs a new lightweight steel in the body and chassis that has the same rigidity as regular steel.
Mazda didn't stop there. They also went to task by cutting excess weight wherever they could, right down to the bolts used on the vehicle.
Three Mazda vehicles at the moment come with SKYACTIV Technology of varying degrees.
First is the Mazda3 which only comes with the SKYACTIV Powertrain. The Mazda3 come equipped with the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G engine and the choice of either the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual or SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic. To know you're getting a 3 with the SKYACTIV goods, make sure your 3 is the i Sport, i Touring, and i Grand Touring models.
Next up is the Mazda CX-5 which comes with full suite of SKYACTIV Technology. The base Sport model comes with the 2.0L SKYACTIV-G engine and the choice of the manual or automatic. The Touring and Grand Touring models step up to the 2.5L SKYACTIV-G engine and come with the automatic only.
Finally is the Mazda6 which also comes with the full suite of SKYACTIV Technology. All trim levels come equipped with the 2.5L SKYACTIV-G engine. The base Sport comes with the choice of the manual or automatic, while the Touring and Grand Touring have the automatic only.