Automakers often come up with cool names for new technology or old technology. After all, all other things being equal, you’re more likely to buy the car that sounds more innovative and stylish than the other. Mazda hopes its Skyactiv technology (often referred to in all caps as SKYACTIV) will help convince you to give its new sedans and SUVs a try. So, what exactly is Skyactiv technology? Is it an innovative new feature or an old feature repackaged for today’s market? Also, is it worth choosing an all-new Mazda over similar competitors?
What is Mazda Skyactiv Technology?
According to the Kelley Blue Book, Skyactiv is a suite of proprietary automotive technologies designed to improve the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines (ICE). Traditionally, internal combustion engines only use about 30 percent of the energy they get from the fuel, with the rest lost as heat internally or externally.
With Skyactiv technology, Mazda has improved ICE fuel efficiency by increasing the compression ratio to 13:1. Automotive engineers have been trying to do this for decades to improve fuel distribution and optimize engine cylinder cooling. However, most vehicles released over the past few decades have compression ratios of only 8:1 to 12:1.
Skyactiv Technology also tries to retain and reuse as much exhaust air as possible. Combined with a higher compression ratio and reclaimed exhaust gases, Mazda has increased the power and efficiency of its ICE by 15%. These features also benefit from cylinder deactivation technology, which is now common on every Mazda3 model. Cylinder deactivation disconnects the cylinders when the vehicle is maintaining a constant highway speed or operating under minimal load conditions.
What are the components of Skyactiv Technology?
Mazda Skyactiv technology consists of several components. First up is the Skyactiv-G engine, which has 15 percent more power and efficiency. Mazda produces these engines in 2.0-liter, 2.5-liter and 3.3-liter sizes, allowing would-be buyers to enjoy improvements across multiple brand variants.
Mazda combines the Skyactiv-G engine with two different transmission options. Skyactiv-Drive is a six-speed automatic transmission that delivers quick acceleration, increased responsiveness and increased efficiency. For those who prefer a manual transmission, Mazda offers Skyactiv-MT, a six-speed manual option.
Mazda’s Skyactiv package includes more than just the powertrain, however. The automaker designed a new body and chassis for its Skyactiv-equipped vehicles. Paired with the SkyActiv-G engine and Drive or MT transmission is a lighter but stronger frame, making these vehicles more agile at low speeds and more stable at high speeds.
Additionally, Mazda has developed Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics with G-Vectoring Control, a kit component that automatically varies force, power and weight to improve driving responsiveness. This technology provides drivers with a smoother ride, especially when cornering, and better vehicle control.
Which vehicles are equipped with Skyactiv technology?
Mazda uses a variant of Skyactiv technology on all of its new vehicles. In addition to the Mazda3, you’ll find the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine in the CX-3, MX-5 and CX-30. The 2.5-liter version can be found in the Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-30, CX-5, CX-50 and CX-9. It, along with a 3.3-liter version, is an option on the outgoing CX-60. You’ll also find these transmission options in different trims of these vehicles.
Still, improvements to the Skyactiv-G engine weren’t the limits of Mazda’s engineers. They worked hard to develop the next generation of more efficient ICE to achieve higher compression ratios. The recently launched Skyactiv-X engine increases the compression ratio to 16:1, which can improve fuel efficiency by 20% to 30%. The 2.0-liter Skyactiv-X engine is currently available on premium Mazda3 and CX-30 models, while a 3.0-liter version is available on the new premium CX-60 model.
Mazda Skyactiv technology is not limited to ICE improvements. Mazda has been working on improving its hybrid offerings with the Skyactiv-G engine. Additionally, the automaker has been developing low-compression diesel engines on the Skyactiv platform to improve fuel efficiency while reducing emissions. While some models fitted with these “Skyactiv-D” engines have been recalled for design flaws, Mazda has actually developed a suite of automotive technologies to improve performance. Skyactiv is more than a rebranding of old technology. Mazda engineers really designed a better internal combustion engine.