If you own a relatively new Mazda, it likely features Skyactiv technology. And if you don’t drive a Mazda but have been considering getting one, you’ve probably heard about it. But what is Mazda Skyactiv and what does it mean for you and your car? Does your Mazda even have any Skyactiv systems to begin with?
What Does Mazda Skyactiv Mean?
Skyactiv refers to a slew of proprietary automotive technologies created by Mazda that make the engine produce more power while also consuming less fuel. First introduced in 2011, it encompasses vehicle bodies, chassis, engines, and transmissions that synergize together.
Mazda presented Skyactiv’s antecedent Sky at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show in 2008. It introduced the Sky-G gasoline and Sky-D diesel engines that delivered both superior performance and fuel efficiency. Also shown was the Sky-Drive transmission that could take advantage of the new engines’ capabilities.
The Mazda Kiyora concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show featured the Sky-G gasoline engine and Sky-Drive transmission to demonstrate the new tech’s potential.
Over the next few years, Mazda refined the Sky powertrain for increased performance and efficiency. Eventually renaming Sky to Skyactiv, Mazda began implementing the rebranded technologies in their vehicle models starting in 2011.
What Is Skyactiv Technology in Mazda Vehicles?
Skyactiv covers four automotive systems: the engine, transmission, vehicle body, and chassis. Taken by themselves, these systems generally perform better than older counterparts. However, they reach their true potential when they work together.
Most engines can only tap around 30% of the energy stored in fuel. Furthermore, they can’t deliver high power output and save fuel at the same time. One has to give way to the other.
Mazda’s response to these challenges is the Skyactiv family of engines. Derived from the earlier L-engine design, these cutting-edge engines are designed for extremely high compression ratios of 14:1 and 16:1. Usually, you can find these compression ratios in performance cars, not daily drivers with mass-produced engines.
The higher the engine’s compression ratio, the more energy it can get from fuel. A Skyactiv engine can generate the same amount of power as a conventional engine while running on a leaner air-fuel mixture. It has better fuel efficiency and lower emission levels while maintaining good power generation.
Mazda offers several different types of engines. Skyactiv-G and Skyactiv-X engines run on gasoline. The older Skyactiv-G engine delivers a compression ratio of 14:1, allowing it to drive further on a single tank of gas.
Its successor Skyactiv-X can reach 16:1 with the help of a homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) system. HCCI ignites a small fuel charge to compress the primary air-fuel mixture, leading to spontaneous ignition.
Skyactiv-D engines are turbocharged diesels. Also capable of a compression ratio of 14:1, they enable a smooth, direct response and deliver excellent acceleration. They also meet global standards on exhaust emission, making them very clean and fuel-efficient engines.
There are also hybrid engines and electric battery powertrains available under the Skyactiv brand.
Skyactiv Transmission Systems
The transmission contributes to the vehicle’s drivability. But it also plays a role in determining fuel efficiency. A good transmission system can save fuel by providing precise handling on the road while driving at low speeds.
Mazda offers two transmission systems under their Skyactiv brand. The automatic option is Skyactiv-Drive, which the company describes as the “ideal automatic transmission”. Designed to have the wide lockup range of a manual transmission, Skyactiv-Drive makes you feel like you’re driving stick. It also delivers smooth shifting between gears and economizes on fuel at slow speeds.
Skyactiv-MT is the brand’s manual transmission system. Mazda aimed for a transmission that saves weight, takes up less space in the vehicle, and gives the crisp feel of superior shifting usually associated with a sports car.
They came up with Skyactiv-MT, one of the lightest and most compact manual transmissions currently available. By paring down the transmission’s weight and squeezing it into the smallest possible space, Mazda increased the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and responsiveness.
Skyactiv Body Technology
Mazda took the weight-saving principles it employed in its Skyactiv-MT transmissions and applied them to the vehicle’s body as well. The result is Skyactiv-Body, a light yet highly rigid framework that embodies the car maker’s ideal about making the driver and their vehicle into a united whole.
Skyactiv-Body improves acceleration, turning, and stopping performance. These are considered the basic functions of any vehicle. The leaner and lighter a vehicle, the better it performs on the road. To ensure that Skyactiv-Body is as light as possible, Mazda removed as much unnecessary weight as possible.
At the same time, Skyactiv-Body is more than durable enough to keep you and your passengers safe during accidents. Mazda redesigned the framework from top to bottom to improve its rigidity. Furthermore, the framework’s design reduces the severity of impact shocks, making collisions and crashes less dangerous.
Skyactiv Chassis Technology
Last but not least is the Skyactiv-Chassis technology. A next-generation chassis, it takes the driving experience delivered by Mazda Skyactiv technology to the next level.
Vehicles try to balance multiple requirements that are at loggerheads with each other. First, they must be agile while driving at low and medium speeds. At the same time, they must remain stable while traveling at high speeds. They should also have a body that’s light yet rigid. Finally, they have to ensure their occupants find the ride fun and comfortable.
Skyactiv-Chassis features a fully redesigned suspension and adds new features. A cross member strengthens the body’s rigidity while keeping the extra weight to a minimum. There’s also electric power steering that makes the vehicle easier to handle.
What Mazda Models Have Skyactiv Technology?
Mazda introduced the earliest Skyactiv technologies in 2011. The car maker incorporated the new engines and transmissions into many models. Improvements in technology led to newer versions replacing older ones in the later model years.
Some of the Mazda models that use Skyactiv technologies are:
Skyactiv is a critical part of the Jinba Ittai driving experience that Mazda wants to give to drivers and passengers alike. Its technologies and systems will continue to evolve in the near future.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.