In response to growing demands worldwide for sustainable motoring solutions, Mazda pursued a complete rethink in designing its upcoming generation of cars. The emphasis is to push the envelope of efficiency without sacrificing driving pleasure whilst attempting to deliver simple and elegant solutions.
More than just a collection of technologies and innovations, SkyActiv at its core is a philosophy, a thinking that seeks to push the boundaries of development and to make every component work that little bit better and thus contribute to massive whole scale improvements throughout the system. All components in the vehicle are designed to work in perfect harmony with each other, creating a pleasingly refined driving experience.
The inner workings of SkyActiv Technology have been extensively discussed in many publications, and its virtues repeatedly extolled in countless independent reviews published worldwide. For example, the SkyActiv-G engine is remarkable for having an unusually high 14:1 compression ratio for a petrol engine, and the 6-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission has a lock-up range that is widened from 64% of the preceding 5-speed auto to 89%, but what do all these figures mean out in the real world?
Well, a high compression ratio equates to better thermal efficiency and the result is that Mazda was able to extract 15% more torque from the engine whilst improving fuel consumption and carbon emissions by the same margin. The engineers were also able to eliminate the problem of knocking that is the typical bane of such engines which gives users the option of enjoying undiminished performance with lower octane fuel. The SkyActiv-G engine will accept RON 95, no questions asked.
In the automatic transmission, a wider lock-up range reduces power losses at the torque converter – a well-known weakness of automatic transmissions. To smoothly facilitate such a wide lock-up range, Mazda has developed a highly-sensitive mechatronic module facilitates direct communication between the Engine Control Unit and the transmission’s hydraulic control systems. This allows the transmission to deliver smooth and quick gear changes.
The SkyActiv philosophy is even applied to the vehicle’s overall structure, with a rigid lightweight body that help ensure high safety in the event of a collision and to deliver a more refined and pleasurable driving experience. By optimizing load paths within the unibody, Mazda was able to create a body that is 30% more rigid than before whilst reducing weight by 8%. As we know, weight reduction helps reduce fuel economy, and a more rigid structure delivers a significant boost in vehicle safety and dynamics.
Mazda’s greatest achievement with SkyActiv technology is that it was able to set itself lofty engineering goals and proceed to achieve them with simple and elegant solutions. The SkyActiv philosophy employs a top down approach that fine tunes every single element to operate in perfect harmony with the entire system. The result is improvements in overall efficiency without the need for over-elaborate engineering or any sacrifice of driving enjoyment.