Mazda consistently earns awards for its driver focused vehicles; collecting everything from top safety pick by the IIHS to Car & Driver’s 10 Best awards. While the brand has become a favorite amongst enthusiasts, it’s been slow to move into the electrified space.
- Mazda is a favorite car builder amongst enthusiasts because of its enjoyable cars and value proposition.
- Although we are still waiting patiently for electrification, Mazda is optimizing its current offerings in preparation.
- SKYACTIV-G engines are not only making non-EVs more efficient but will make for efficient hybrids and PHEVs.
- SKYACTIV Vehicle Architecture will carry over to all Mazda models, ensuring they are still fun to drive and efficient as possible.
Mazda recently announced its first electrified vehicles will arrive in 2020, but it is already laying the groundwork for keeping its focus on driving enjoyment while incorporating efficiency.
Last year, Mazda announced “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030”, a long-term strategy for technology development. The plan lays-out how Mazda will use driving pleasure in the search for solutions to modern issues. The all-new Mazda3 is the first consumer-ready model to feature some of the technologies that will realize this new vision.
For example, it will employ a revolutionary new gasoline engine called SKYACTIV-X and a set of structural technologies called SKYACTIC-vehicle architecture.
What Is SKYACTIVE Engine Technology
Conventional internal combustion engines only utilize around 30 percent of the potential energy in the fuel they burn. The rest is mostly lost as heat, either through the cooling system or just out the exhaust. In an effort to maximize the use of the available energy within the fuel, Mazda has increased the engine’s compression ratio.
It wasn’t quite that simple however, engineers have been trying to raise efficiency through higher-compression, literally for the last century. Mazda optimized the way the fuel is delivered into the engine, using the latest direct injection technology. This allows for a more even distribution of fuel and greater cylinder cooling.
On the opposite side, the scavenging effects of the exhausts have also been maximized. Meaning the meaning the greatest amount of exhaust is pulled out at the highest possible speed. All of this adds up to not only 15% more power, but 15% greater efficiency as well.
To build upon the fuel efficiency Mazda’s SKYACTIV engines, cylinder-deactivation technology is standard on all Mazda3 hatchbacks for the new model year. Cylinder-deactivation is an increasingly common way for manufacturers to increase fuel-efficiency. It works by shutting down cylinders when the engine is in a minimal load state such as driving on the highway at a constant speed.
Both the hatchback and sedan model come equipped with a SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter engine that delivers 186 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. It actually boasts a very impressive 0-60 time of 6.9 seconds which is roughly 1 to 1.5 seconds faster than most of its competitors like the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra.
The engine doesn’t disappoint when it comes to fuel economy, getting 27 City and 36 Highway MPG. Those are solid numbers from a car with a sub 8-second 0-60 time.
While we are anxiously awaiting Mazda’s fully-electric vehicle, the optimization will not only keep its ICE cars competitive, but will make a PHEV more efficient as well.
The Advantage Of SKYACTIV Vehicle Architecture
As it turns out, many of the qualities that make cars more enjoyable to drive fast, also make them more efficient. Case in point, cars that are both lighter and structurally more rigid both handle better while also requiring less energy to move.
SKYACTIV vehicle architecture aims to create nimbleness at low speeds and stability at high speeds. The framework incorporates ultra-high-tensile-strength steel in critical areas to help make it lighter, yet also stiffer and stronger.
Front-wheel drive is standard, and the most efficient option. Mazda also offers predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel drive for the first time on the Mazda3. It’s the only vehicle in its class to offer AWD.
While the Mazda3 doesn’t come with a hybrid or electric offering just yet, Mazda is pulling out all the stops to make their gas engine as efficient as possible, while still offering that Zoom-Zoom driving experience.