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What does Mazda’s SkyActiv brand mean?

Mazda is a much smaller company globally than fellow Japanese brands Toyota, Nissan and Honda but has a long history, originally founded as a cork factory in 1920. before switching to car production in 1931.

Arguably more than its Japanese counterparts, Mazda is not afraid to take risks. Some of these, such as the development of MX-5has been rewarded.

Others, such as continuously investing in rotary engines, have been less successful, despite producing a number of iconic cars. Some have even brought the company close to bankruptcy, such as overinvesting in Amati and Eunos luxury stores during the height of Japan’s economic boom in the 80s and early 90s.

Mazda’s most recent long-term gamble is to develop a new way to make cars more efficient without compromising on performance, or the driving sensations of ‘Zoom-Zoom’ and ‘jinba-ittai’. fusion of rider with horse) for which Mazda claims its cars are famous.

This approach is called SkyActiv, and represents a diverse set of technologies, from engine to gearbox and chassis technology.

Brief history

Elements of Mazda’s SkyActiv philosophy have been in production for more than a decade and the first vehicle sold in Australia under the SkyActiv banner was the Mazda 3 hatch and BL Series 2 sedan (mid-life) introduced in late 2011.

These models are only available with the SkyActiv engine and transmission, and while the 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G engine’s power and torque gains are modest compared to the previous 2.0-liter MZR, the cars car has significantly improved 25.6% in gasoline consumption.

Today, Mazda’s entire line of passenger cars and SUVs uses all of SkyActiv technology. An exception is Mazda’s BT-50based on Isuzu D-Max. However, Mazda claims that, as the latest BT-50 has a significantly more economical engine than its predecessor, it is in line with the overall SkyActiv philosophy.

It’s important to note that although Mazdas sold today share the SkyActiv brand with models sold a decade ago, this doesn’t mean Mazda is standing still, with Mazda regularly making improvements and fine-tuning SkyActiv technology.

SkyActiv engine

Mazda’s SkyActiv engine range can best be thought of as a series of shared engineering principles and design elements that span a wide range of naturally aspirated, turbocharged engines (both petrol and diesel). and hybrids.

These include relatively high compression ratios for gasoline engines and relatively low compression ratios for diesel engines.

Mazda claims that for gasoline engines, a high compression ratio improves thermal efficiency, resulting in greater fuel economy, while also improving low- and mid-range torque for good everyday drivability. than.

As a result, Mazda’s naturally aspirated petrol SkyActiv engine typically uses a high compression ratio of 13.0:1 to 15.0:1 in the innovative SkyActiv-X powertrain, while even the turbocharged petrol SkyActiv engine does adopts a compression ratio of 10.5:1, which is high compared to similar engines.

One of the risks of using a high compression ratio is the increased risk of an engine detonation, as a result of which the fuel-air mixture burns out prematurely and can cause serious engine damage.

A common solution to this problem is to restrict the engine to accept only high octane fuel (such as 98 RON), however, Mazda has designed a more permanent alternative by applying using the ‘4-2-1’ exhaust system. This physically increases the length of the exhaust pipe and reduces the risk of excess hot air being forced back into the combustion chamber and causing engine knock.

For the diesel engine, a low compression ratio of 14.0:1 is used, which Mazda claims allows its engine to meet stringent Euro 6 emissions regulations (especially with regard to nitrogen oxide emissions or NOx) without AdBlue or other exhaust gas treatments.

Recently, SkyActiv technology has been introduced into the mild hybrid space, with the e-SkyActiv G engine using a 24V mild hybrid system to improve fuel economy.

Perhaps the most notable innovation in the SkyActiv engine family, however, is the introduction of the SkyActiv-X engine. Mazda claims that this engine combines the best aspects of gasoline and diesel engines through a process known as Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI).

SPCCI combines the best elements of spark ignition, as used in gasoline engines, with compression ignition, as used in diesel engines.

A spark is initially used to create a fireball to initiate combustion, similar to a gasoline engine. However, the actual combustion of the air-fuel mixture is rapid and steady, similar to compression ignition, rather than the gradual combustion of a typical gasoline engine.

Mazda claims that this technology allows it to deliver 30% more torque than the standard 2.0-liter SkyActiv G engine, while beating the SkyActiv D diesel in fuel economy.

Experiment in the real world Mazda 3 with this powertrain has shown its combined economy slightly better than the more powerful, if not frugal, 2.5-liter engine, such as Toyota Corolla hybrid. It is also offered in Related CX-30.

SkyActiv transmission

Mazda has also applied SkyActiv principles to the transmissions it uses, including manual and automatic transmissions.

The manual transmission has had more than a century of improvement, but the manual transmission on Mazda’s MX-5 is widely hailed as one of the best available in the industry regardless of price.

With the new SkyActiv-MT, Mazda aims to replicate the shifting feel of the MX-5 on manuals throughout its lineup, facilitating a 16% reduction in transmission weight, through developments such as the remove reverse idling shaft.

Automatic transmissions have long overtaken transmissions common in markets such as Australia and the US, and perhaps the more impressive development is Mazda’s SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmission, which it claims combines the following features: The best elements of the standard torque converter, CVT and dual clutch transmission are used. in other means.

In fact, SkyActiv-Drive works like a regular automatic transmission. Typically, these gearboxes have a locking clutch that matches the transmission to engine speed, but operates only 50% of the time to maintain low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.

With the SkyActiv-Drive transmission, Mazda uses a locking clutch that can operate 80% of the time and, with the addition of a vibration damper, does not cause any loss during fine-tuning.

Mazda claims this allows its transmission to have the same smooth take-offs and climbs as a traditional automatic transmission, with some of the responsiveness and direct steering feel of a dual-clutch, and without the Sliding noise or noise is common in CVT gearboxes.

SkyActiv Body and Frame

Body structure and chassis are important contributors to the weight and safety of a vehicle, and Mazda claims it has made significant improvements to its SkyActive philosophy.

The overall approach here is to have different structures combined to form a monolithic unit, with a focus on transmission and stiffness. This means that, where possible, the previously curved sides of a monolithic frame will be replaced by a straighter and stiffer part, while more advanced welding and bonding techniques will be used to create a continuous link frame.

These developments allow Mazda to improve safety by creating a more refined multi-path load structure so that in the event of a collision, forces are distributed in multiple directions rather than through just one part of the body. car.

In terms of materials, Mazda claims that vehicles with SkyActiv bodywork also incorporate a higher proportion of tensile steel, which benefits both the strength and weight of the body.

While suspension and steering can vary by model (e.g. the Mazda 3 uses a cheaper torsion beam rear suspension, rather than an independent setup like Mazda 6 and CX-5), Mazda claims it has revised its approach to suspension development and has also introduced a new electric power steering system that offers better high-speed stability and low-speed agility.

Other vehicle dynamics

In addition to the body and chassis improvements, Mazda has also introduced more advanced electronic dynamics technologies to the vehicle to improve cornering at high speeds. Known as G-Vectoring Control and G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC and GVC Plus), these can be thought of as Mazda operations taking on torque.

The original GVC-minimum-tuned engine torque output is based on the driver’s steering and acceleration inputs, aimed at managing the forces acting on the vehicle and providing subtle improvements to vehicle handling. turn the car.

The latest system, GVC Plus, more closely mimics the brake-based torque measurement system used by other automakers, adding temporary braking, intended to improve vehicle stability and lift. high processing capacity.

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