By on August 4, 2011

I am sitting in a parking garage in a throng of torpid auto-journalists, nearly all of whom are wearing the same glazed expression of terminal information overload. On-screen, molecules of fuel and air are doing a complicated little computer-animated dance, as narrated by Susumi Niinai, program manager at Mazda’s powertrain development division. His English, while Japanese-accented, is better than, y’know, mine, but the concepts he’s explaining approach the limit of comprehensibility to the lay-person. Mind you, it’s a pretty nice parking garage.

Some of you, like me, may have been hearing all the rumblings about Mazda’s new SKYACTIV technologies and been wondering whether it’s going to turn out to be a series of technological breakthroughs or, alternatively, a load of complete cobblers thought up by some Zoom-Zoom marketing guru.

Good news everyone! It’s the former. Bad news everyone! I have to try to explain it to you. And I borderline don’t understand it myself. Here goes…

First, let’s set aside Niinai-san’s well-illustrated presentation on the SKYACTIV engine series for a moment, and talk in generalities. As was repeatedly hammered into our heads throughout the day, Mazda is a small company with limited resources.

What’s more, they’re a small company in trouble. How much trouble? Well, previous posts have outlined current flagging sales and enough profit drops to alarm Mazda fans. This is not good. To be frank, if Saab goes the way of the 9-2x Dodo a few orthodontists may be mildly upset, but for the rest of us it’s a big ol, “Meh.” Mazda on the ropes though? For the enthusiast driver, that’s bad.

So how does a beleaguered company without the resources of a Toyota or Nissan take on the pressures of ever-increasing efficiency standards? More than that, how do you pull off competitive MPGs while still maintaining the apparently-conflicting mandate of maximizing driver involvement as a priority? Two choices: cut corners, or clip the apex.

Make no mistake, Mazda isn’t interested in broadening appeal by blurring their focus. I heard the concept of jinba-ittai repeated so many times during the various presentations I was on the point of climbing on a horse and shooting someone in the face with an arrow.

Additionally, partnerships don’t seem to be high on the priority list. While there is some sort of upcoming agreement with Toyota on the hybrid powertrain front, Mazda seems to have little enthusiasm for a percentage ownership by a larger company that might allow for an increased R&D budget. When asked if anything similar to the previous Ford arrangement might be sought going forward, Mazda’s gurus said something to the effect of, “the future is unpredictable, but we don’t expect so.” They were scrupulously polite, but one might as well been asking them if they were hoping a disfiguring skin disease might re-appear.

Without the bankroll, Mazda’s got to box clever. It’s all very well to identify brand values, and quite frankly, it’s heartening to hear a group of enthusiastic engineers reaffirm that the Japanese Lotus still puts “fun-to-drive” at the top of their to-do list, but how do to so on a shoestring? First, streamline.

“Monotsukuri Innovation” is Mazda’s way of bundling architecture together to reduce costs. The cutaway SKYACTIV platform on display clearly showed a transmission tunnel capable of supporting an AWD variant, but the chassis was intended for next-gen Mazda3 and Mazda6 cars. With minimal changes needed to build the CX-7 and upcoming CX-5 off the same platform, weight-savings and rigidity developments should echo throughout the entire Mazda range.

Much hay has been made of Mazda’s borderline-impossible weight target for the next MX-5. With a total weight reduction of just 100kg, the SKYACTIV body and chassis don’t seem as revolutionary – until you notice that no exotic materials are involved: the savings are realized purely though better design and a moderate (20%) increase in the use of high-tensile steel.

By removing curves and kinks from the underbody, Mazda’s prototypes boast increased safety ratings with less material used. However, evidence of budget limitations can be seen in the ring-structure connecting the upper and lower body. Rather than a full stamped piece requiring a very large and expensive piece of machinery, a section of the structure is attached using structural adhesive.

The importance of an 8% weight-loss is easily dismissed, until you drive a Fiesta and a Mazda2 back-to-back. Of the two, the Mazda has the dynamic edge, and despite meagre power output remains a joy to drive. Best of all, the optimist could choose to see Mazda’s weight goals as marking the point at which safety-driven model bloat hit its apogee and we began moving towards a lighter future where 160hp four-bangers were more than merely adequate.

More than that, the SKYACTIV-chassis’s focus on driving dynamics has resulted in further improvements to handing with a quickened steering rack combined and increased positive caster. The difference in the steering is readily evident; not heavy but much more direct.

However, the realist will note that weight-loss and chassis improvements aren’t enough. Only a minor fuel-savings will be realized by the SKYACTIV chassis and body. The major difference will come from drivetrain improvements.

Don’t look for anything radical in the transmission department. With great pragmatism, Mazda has noted and rejected the cost of developing a dual-clutch gearbox, spurned the non-involving fuel-savings of a continuously terrible – er – variable transmission and gone instead for refinements of the good old auto and manual transmissions.

The changes to the manual are clever, but slight. Minor adjustments to throw-length and some weight-savings realized by trickery such as a shared input gear for first and reverse show a general improvement, but Mazda’s stick-shifts are generally quite good anyway.

It’s with the automatic tranny that Mazda’s pulled a fast one. One need only look at the mixed reviews of Ford’s six-speed dual-clutch or check the recall list on the VAG DSG to see the pitfalls of pouring money into a completely new tech. Mazda has taken what seems to be the easy route here, re-jigging the venerable automatic gearbox with a more direct feel that’ll keep the enthusiast happy.

That’s perhaps an oversimplification, but with a greater lock-up range and a modular unit containing calibrated hydraulic controls, the new 6-speed auto feels much more in tune to what your right foot is doing, particularly on tip-in.

So we have bundled development and a focus on honing simpler technologies rather than chasing pie-in-the-sky tech. Time to get back to Niinai-san and the SKYACTIV engine suite, where both ideas combine for some real-world fuel savings.

SKYACTIV-G and -D engines have, respectively, both the highest compression ratio for a production gasoline engine and the lowest compression ratio for a diesel engine. For both, the concept is the same: hybrid vehicles are all well and good, but people keep buying cars equipped with nothing more than a trusty old internal combustion engine. Even with a market shift more towards electric and hybrid drivetrains, the bulk of the vehicles on the road are still going to be ICE-equipped.

Thus, improving the combustion cycle in both diesel and gasoline applications is going to affect passenger car sales right now, especially as Mazda doesn’t appear to intend a premium charge for their SKYACTIV technology. Rather, next year’s Mazda3 will bow with a SKYACTIV-G engine and the improved transmissions as the standard equipment on mid-range models starting sometime in October.

The availability of SKYACTIV-D remains nebulous, although it could appear in some Mazda products as soon as next year. This twin-turbocharged diesel boasts improved torque from a combustion cycle that ignites much closer to top dead centre, giving a longer power-stroke. Multi-hole injectors allow for a more homogenous fuel-air mixture and the low compression ratio allows for more precise timing control.

Why doesn’t everyone run their diesel engines this way? Among other issues not outlined, Mazda’s engineers needed to overcome cold-start problems with variable valve-lift. As much as I hate the phrase, it’s a paradigm shift: the low compression means thinner con-rods and a lighter rotating assembly that revs higher; this is a diesel that redlines at (and pulls to) 5200rpm.

However, it’s the SKYACTIV-G that you’re more likely to get a chance to drive in the near future. Want some good news on the efficiency front? How does 13:1 compression and a 4-2-1 header strike you?

That’s right, moving in a completely different direction than other manufacturers, Mazda has put together a hi-po four-banger that gains 15% torque across the rev range while still getting better fuel economy. It’s a sprightly little engine and noticeably more potent at low revs.

How do they get away with a compression ratio higher than a 458 Italia in a four-cylinder that runs on regular gas? Control the burn. That header is designed to maintain consistent temperature levels in the combustion chamber, and the SKYACTIV-G features special piston cavities which allow for rapid and even flame-front propagation. Those multi-hole direct injectors are at work here again, although there’s a limit to the tech. Overseas versions will be running 14:1 compression, but North American fuel requirements dictated a detune.

The next-gen Mazda3 will only be partially SKYACTIV, lacking the chassis and body upgrades that will first be fully available in the CX-5 crossover (which you’ll be glad to note will be available with manual transmission). With this partial first wave of improvements, Mazda is reporting attaining 40mpg on the highway.

Revolutionary? The numbers don’t seem so. But it’s competitive, and the comprehensive focus that Mazda is bringing to its entire lineup shows a different strategy than that behind a low-volume halo car like the Nissan Leaf.

Let’s face it, people are going to continue to buy Mazda products based on the way they drive. If Mazda can reduce consumption to the point at which a enthusiast looking for an engaging drive doesn’t end up paying a penalty at the pump, they’ll have a success story on their hands.

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45 Comments on “Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology: The Comprehensible Bits...”


  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    I wanted to buy a Mazda3 based on the way it drove — I ended up not buying it based on it’s poor fuel economy. 24MPG city in a 4 pot? Really? A 40mpg Mazda3 would have been a different story. Heck, a 35mpg Mazda 3 would have been a different story. Speaking of poor fuel economy, I wonder if any of this tech is applicable to Mazda’s rotary engines.

    • 0 avatar

      As regards the rotary: not yet, if ever. I don’t see how they can use the high-comp suite of tech to make a rotary setup work. Even with a nice, homogenous mixture from those new injectors, it’s not going to be a perfectly clean burn.

      • 0 avatar
        Twin Cam Turdo

        Brendan,

        Did they provide power specs?

        As for the high CR, depending on how they are doing it it is potentially not that difficult for them.

        Direct injection is one major enabler, cam timing is another. Operating the engine in an Atkinson mode can also enable a high (mechanically) CR.
        The Atkinson operation leaves the intake valves open longer than usual, causing some intake charge to be pushed back into the intake, resulting in an operating CR that is actually lower than the mechanical CR.
        Mazda has pursued this route on a new Japanese market vehicle (Demio, IIRC). Fuel efficiency is enhanced at the expense of lower engine power output. The lower power output was ‘enabled’ by the weight savings applied to the vehicle.

        As an example Toyota also runs a mechanical CR of about 13.5:1 on its Atkinsonized hybrids.

        There is nothing wrong with them doing this, but we can’t just blindly equate this high CR as an indicator of a sport biased engine.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      With 5MT Mazda3 is pretty economical. I regularly average 32-33 mpg 80% HWY. No trip is 100% HWY. My 98% HWY trips return 36 MPG. (all with AC)
      My lowest score ever 28mpg was a winter driving with lots of idle and decent warmups.
      Mazda3, when equipped with 5MT has excellent fuel efficiency. Even CR estimated it only 2mpg AVG below Corolla (the most fuel efficient car with 5 MT).
      24/33 EPA is estimate. In my case it is low estimate, the actual is higher.

    • 0 avatar
      BadaBing373

      Brendan,

      Thank you very much for a VERY well-written and informative article !!!

      I really like what Mazda is doing. It looks like my next car will be a Mazda 3 Hatch. Just get rid of the stupid front bumper grin, please. And this is coming from a Honda fan. It looks like I will have to keep my 1993 Civic Coupe 5spd w/230k miles for another year or two, until the full blown Skyactiv Mazda 3 comes to the US. And that’s quite OK with me…My Civic is still going strong: solid 33mpg average, and only 250ml of oil consumed, every 4000 miles.

  • avatar
    carve

    Fuel economy is why I wrote off the Mazda 3 and CX-7. This’ll be good. The new auto sounds nice, too. The ZF 6-spd auto in my 335i is unbelievable (for an auto). The torque convertor locks so fast that it feels a lot like a manual- it just has a torque convertor instead of a clutch.

    Still…the chips are down. I’d like to see Mazda do something bold or revolutionary, like licensing Gordon Murry’s or the Rocky Mountain Institute’s composite construction process. A range-extended electric, using a rotary generator, would be interesting, too. I’d like to see it as a through-the-road hybrid, with the electric motors on the front wheels, and rotary on the rears (to maximize regenerative braking. The rotary would mostly be a road-trip sustainer motor, but you’d also be able to kick it on when you want to have some fun, or need AWD.

    I’m also interested in the power to weight ratio of these new engines- particularly with a turbo. High power-to-weight ratio EFFICIENT engines are a key enabler to light vehicles.

    Lighten the engine, and you can lighten the suspension, brakes, and wheels, further lightening the car, which means it’ll require less power, further lightening the engine…shrinking the fuel tank, etc. Reduce it enough and now you can reduce the weight of the crumple zones, and on and on. It’ll eventually become light enough to make composite construction less of a hurdle and much more affordable, further lightening the car and everything else, and down we go until we’re driving large, relatively safe, fast, efficient cars.

    • 0 avatar
      devilsadvocate

      I would consider SkyActiv to be revolutionary, or at least potentially so. Mazda is, in effect, reinventing the wheel here. Rather than spend tons of money developing hybrids or all-electrics which will save gas but waste other natural resources (lithium for those batteries doesn’t grow on trees and electric cars just swap burning coal for burning gas), they’re making current technology as efficient as possible. It should prove more appealing to the those who actually like to drive, and will probably be more affordable than any hybrid or all-electric. Having ICE’s that are extremely efficient and affordable just seems more logical than having relatively few and relatively inaffordable hybrids.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        Lots of people are running DI and high compression now (although not quite THAT high). That and a header isn’t exactly revolutionary. And the trans is like the ZF that’s been available in high-end cars for 5 years now.

        I do like the appeal to non-hybrid efficiencyh though. Should keep costs down, and should be better on the highway.

        Something else I’d like to see, which a super high compression engine should be good at, is a valve timing cycle that would reduce power by doing a DEEP Atkinson cycle, rather than just using a throttle plate. There could be some big gains to be had there by closing the intake valve super early.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Thanks for sitting through that and culling out the highlights. Nice header porn, too. Let’s hope the orange mirror on the white car isn’t a Skyactiv feature.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Love it. Daddy might need to invest in a new Miata in a few years.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    Yay! I for one am thrilled at a company that is working towards lighter weight and improvements on existing technology. Like they’re the only ones who looked at the competition and said “wait a minute…batteries are heavy!”

    However, unless the average slack-jawed yokel consumer has the words “SkyActiv” crammed down their throat as with “hybrid,” they’ll turn their noses up at it. “Well, the Mazda is nice, but it’s not a hybrid.” And then they’ll leave comments somewhere asking why airlines can’t solve their problems with hybrid airplanes.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      I think this is why Mazda made a good decision to lump all these loosely related technologies under one brand name. SkyActiv is more likely to stick with people than “lighter cars with special pistons and headers, etc.”. It’s really their best chance to compete with “hybrid” and “electric” for mindshare.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Great summary. I’ve read other things about this as well, and you have to give the Mazda engineers credit for making the best use of limited resources in designing what could end up being a better mousetrap (which, as history as shown, is no an easy task).

    I like what Mazda is trying to do here and I really hope they pull it off. Fuel efficient, lightweight, safe, affordable cars with zoom-zoom characteristics sounds like a very attractive package to me.

  • avatar
    Syke

    First of the year, I’m shopping for a new car and putting the Porsche on antique plates. B-class (maybe C-), budget approximately $18k, manual transmission is mandatory, hatchback is mandatory. Since I’m used to a Porsche, fun-to-drive is mandatory.

    Current lineup of considerations is Fiesta, Mazda2, Soul, Fit. May add in a Spark, once I get to see one. We loved the Mazda3 (automatic) my wife had – except for the fuel mileage. We also had a good working relationship with the Mazda dealer, within easy bicycling range of my job (important consideration, my usual method for taking a car into service is to clip one of my bikes on back).

    After reading this, the Mazda is matching the Ford for first consideration. I’ve always like the company’s attitude. I’m liking their way of charging into adversity even better.

    • 0 avatar
      loaddown

      You have the same shopping specs as me except my wife needs an automatic. I would add the Chevrolet Sonic as a possibility.
      Mazda may be a possibility, but several questions. The 3 will be a transition to SkyActiv, the headers won’t fit in 2012 and the compression ratio has to be lowered to accept regular gas. So, how efficient will it be? 40 mpg is my mantra. If it meets that, okay. Another question this article brings up is Mazda’s future. Will it be there for us in 10 years?
      The only other thorn with the 3 is that toothless grin on it’s face, PLEASE!

  • avatar

    Okay, one frustration with previous Mazda’s I need cleared up: great feeling stickshifts, but why do I need to sacrifice highway comfort (i.e. engines that aren’t whining up at 3200rpm) in order to drive stick? The Europeans have largely managed stickshifts that allow for highway comfort, why can so few (arguably superior feeling) Japanese stickshifts do the same?

    I was so disappointed in the new Mazda 3 (having owned the first gen 3 w/ 2.3) when I discovered that it revved at approximately the same level despite the added gear. Highway calm is a requirement for success in the North American market (in my mind), not to mention that it improves fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      +1
      A manual 3 is great on backroads but on highways it is grating! There really should be an overdrive to drop revs down to, say, 2500 at 70mph.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        +2 Mazda Tribute owner here with a 5 speed manual transmission.

        Hopefully, the additional sixth gear is meant for cruising at Interstate speeds in fly-over states.

      • 0 avatar
        malloric

        A lot of Honda models put wildly different gearing ratios in the auto and manual transmission. For example, the Fit with manual is up around 3300 rpm at 70 mph while the auto is down around 2400. Of course, I couldn’t stand the Fit auto because it was too slow especially at low (city) speeds where the car felt most suited and couldn’t stand the manual because that 1.5 liter bee-can is a loud, obnoxious (and not in a good way) sounding engine that I did not want to listen to droning on for mile after mile at 4,000 rpm.

        Kinda of sucks that Mazda tightened up the gear ratios on the 6-speed. I figured they would have just added another higher ratio on top ala what Porsche is doing with its new 7-speed manuals.

    • 0 avatar
      Bytor

      This is a problem with most small cars. I think it may be from years of the stupid buff books posting top gear 50-70 times passing times. What brainless lump drives a MT and doesn’t downshift to pass?

      The only real overdrive MT with 4cyl seem to come from GM eco models and I haven’t really heard complaints about needing to downshift.

      Everyone should be giving MT a real economy cruising gear now that fuel economy is such a priority.

      • 0 avatar
        Aqua225

        My old LS1 Camaro Z28 (got rid of it last year), could cruise at 75mph, in 6th gear, at about 1650 to 1700 RPMs if memory is correct. It could turn in some seriously good mpg, especially considering the 310 hp on tap. I could get from 28 to 31 running along on I95. Of course, it would start drinking again in the Richmond Virginia area, because of serious traffic congestion even out on the interstate.

        It could also pass on a two lane road in 6th, if you weren’t in a big hurry (ie., trying to put it around someone in too short a passing lane :)). And past 90mph, it really started to get into the sweet spot of the motor and would rocket on to way faster than I ever wanted to go!

        Maybe mfgs will start dialing RPMs back down in top gear when all these direct injected/vvt/turbo engines are placed into all the rolling stock.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    Currently the SkyActiv header is too long for longitudinal engine mounting, so MX-5 Miata won’t get it for a while.

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    Having visited Mazda’s Hiroshima headquarters and linked its culture with that city’s undying spirit, I bleed zoom-zoom. The only reason I don’t advocate them more than Saab at this point is that they’re not in as dire a situation…yet.

    So here’s my proposal for Mazda. As an all knowing editor of TTAC has said, there’s a break even point in sales for a small car company. Figure out how much you need to keep advancing your cars. Add that to the break even point of your company, and that’s your goal for sales and income.

    Yes, that’s oversimplifying things. The point is to not chase the mass marketers. You stay a small time player, but you make some damn fine cars for those who can appreciate them. You may point out that Mazda already is a small time player. They need to cut some more fat (I have a suspicion there’s some there after being in bed with Ford for all these years) and go even *smaller*, almost boutique, if it means survival .

    I’m looking forward to the next generation of Mazdas and their Sky technologies. I hope we continue to see rotary engines, nimble convertibles, manual transmissions, and zoom-zoom for a long time from Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Amen, figure out your break even point and go for it. Don’t chase Toyota or Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “Figure out how much you need to keep advancing your cars. Add that to the break even point of your company, and that’s your goal for sales and income.”

      That sounds good and sounds right. But, what makes you think that larger players are not already doing that? What if the Mazda3 global sales goal needs to be in Elantra territory in order for it to be a self supporting product?

      The economics of highly competitive markets suggest that the smallest players in large markets will always struggle to survive.

      • 0 avatar
        SecretAznMan

        Very valid point. This may be the case and maybe why some fat needs to be trimmed. Unfortunately, my suspicion is that if you get too small, you get gobbled up.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Great article but you’re wrong on one count.

    Mazda is bankrolled by a mega-conglomerate, Sumitomo. After the sale of Ford’s share to Sumitomo they have returned as the majority share-holder and are again part of the Sumitomo keiretsu.

    As evidence of the beneficial fiscal relationship that Mazda gains. Mazda’s new $500m Mexican factory will be bankrolled by them; with Sumitomo taking a 30% stake. In addition Mazda has taken a $700M+ cash injection from Sumitomo’s baking arm just last year, and over half of Mazda’s Indian operation, Swaraj Mazda, is controlled by Sumitomo as well. Not to mention, their new Brazilian sales arm, Mazda Motor do Brasil Limitada, and Mazda’s global strategy is also bankrolled by Sumitomo.

    In addition Sumitomo does a lot of the material science and base research and development that benefits automotive engineering. A recent example is new EV battery technology that has been recently announced.

    On the subject of SkyActiv technology, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been mentioned that the SkyActiv-D Mazda 6 prototype being driven is a staggering 160 kgs lighter then the current Mazda 6.

    “SkyActiv” as a brand, really isn’t about one technology or another. The SKyActiv G/D engine wouldn’t be much without the transmission, and neither of engine/transmission would be much if it was stuck in a heavy body. The fact that the engine/transmission/body/suspensions are combined that engine gains and chassis gains can be fully accentuated.

    In regards to pie-in-the-sky technology, Mazda has the wankel engine for that. And they haven’t abandoned it just yet, direct-injection, hybridization, and hydrogen variants have already been shown. It may find a second-life with hybrid and direct-injection technology. The wankel would also be an ideal range-extender engine, the constant load conditions also serve the wankel well, not to mention the size and weight (both GM and VWAG have discussed such possibilities).

    • 0 avatar

      I mentioned 100kg, as that’s the figure they provided me with. It wasn’t clear whether that was a rough approximation or not.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        Not sure if anything has changed, but other reviews of that SkyActiv Mazda 6 mule mention 160 kg weight savings.
        Some examples:
        http://www.thecarsreport.com/1457/2012-mazda-6-skyactive-reviews-and-price-released/

        >>”redesigned suspension and a lightweight body that slaughter 160 kg tare a standard Mazda6″

        http://brisbanetimes.drive.com.au/motor-news/first-drive-2012-mazda6-skyactiv-skyd-20110215-1aurs.html

        “one-off prototype features a new ‘‘Sky-D’’ diesel engine, ‘‘Sky-Drive’’ six-speed automatic gearbox, redesigned suspension and a lightweight body that culls 160kg from the kerb weight of a standard Mazda6.”

        I’d concede that it sounds a bit extreme being that assuming they are talking about the current Mazda 6 2.2D as standard to which the weight would be reduced from, it would mean that the SkyActiv Mazda 6 would weigh less than 3,100 lbs (as the Mazda 6 diesel is currently 1,550 kgs with driver according to their UK site)

  • avatar
    cwallace

    This, ladies and gents, is what all these corporate blowhards mean when they throw the term “nimble” around. Keep it real, Mazda– I love our CX9, and I’m swapping the Accord for an MX5 as soon as my midlife gets a little more crisis-ey.

  • avatar
    NN

    Great article, Brendan. Makes everyone appreciate Mazda just a bit more.

  • avatar
    bsquarewi

    The poor, forgotten Mazda 5 wasn’t mentioned in your article. CX and MX-5, sure, but what about the one-of-a-kind, inconceivably practical, yet fun to drive micro-van that gets no love? With Ford’s decision to not bring the c-max to the US, hopefully Mazda will continue on with its little niche vehicle and stick this tech into it. The only thing the 5 really needs are right here, better MPG and more torque. (AWD would be killer, but would probably drive the price up too much)

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      You know, it bugs me that one can buy a Premacy, er, 5 as an AWD model in Japan but not in America. Mazda would probably double their sales in the snowbelt (or at least western New Hampshire) if they offered AWD on their models.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I hope they pull this off, as I said in the other post the only thing that kept me from buying a Mazda 6, or a 3 or even an RX-8 is their piss poor mileage. Our current Volvo C30 has some Mazda 3 bits from the Ford tie up days. The main reason we went for the C30 over the Speed 3 was number of doors… we wanted a 3 door hatch but the 3 is only available as a 5 door. Ford and Honda have the same problem: no 3 hatches these day. At this rate the only cars left in this category will be the Hyundai Veloster and the hopeless Honda CR-Z. The Miata already rules, but why stop there? I’d love to see a factory Miata Shooting Brake with a turbo!

  • avatar

    MazdaUSA sent me this link that’s got some animations and so on. Worth a look for those interested: http://mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/skyactiv.action

  • avatar
    redav

    I think Mazda has the exact right strategy for fuel efficiency with SkyActiv. They make fantastic cars, and a new Mazda3 hatch would be a great replacement for my Protege5. But I need better fuel efficiency and I won’t drive a car that looks like a manic clown/fish. (I believe the styling has hurt their sales as much as their poor mpg figures.)

    It looks like SkyActiv solves the first problem. Now they need to hurry up the next design iteration based on the Minagi concept & add the full SkyActiv suite. A compact hatch that looks like the new CX-5 would be sooooo sweet. Hopefully by then their i-stop system will be ready for prime time, too. I would on that like a fat kid on cake.

  • avatar
    skor

    I’ve liked Mazda since my MX-6 days. Unfortunately Americans really don’t care about driving dynamics….BMW’s sell in the US because they are status symbols. I really hope they can succeed and remain a viable company. Mazda has always been one of my little secrets….BMW handling at Asian prices.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    I wish Mazda the best, and hope they pull this off. I like their approach, it sounds like they are going to go for simple good design rather than unproven breakthrough technology.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’m really excited about Mazda’s future. They’re attacking the more stringent efficiency + safety reqs in ways that make sense to me. Truthfully if they can execute SKYACTIV with success, the next Mazda3 might be a car I’d consider buying brand new. As is it’s ridiculously heavy for what it is.

  • avatar
    dwight

    SKYACTIV is what they came up with to promote cars with fuel economy that will just be on target with the competition? Come on, now. All they have to say is Gas Direct and promote a 40+ mpg on their cars and perhaps they’ll sell a few more. From what I understand, we’ll have to pay more for SKYACTIV than their standard engines. So you’ll have to pay a premium to get fuel economy that is on par with a base model Civic. That makes sense.

  • avatar
    Elusivellama

    Owner of a 2010 MS3 here. I’d be most interested to see how SkyActiv can be added to the Speed 3 when the 3rd gen rolls around. What I’d love to see:

    – updated 2.3L DISI using SkyActiv technology
    – updated 6 speed SkyActiv tranny
    – weight reduction across the board
    – better factory motor mounts (not a real big deal, aftermarket motor mounts tend to be better anyway)
    – Kodo design language (my black MS3 actually looks pretty sharp if you see it in person, and so do red MS3s, but I weep for the other colours)
    – better handling

    But damn this car is still fun to drive! This Jinba-Ittai philosophy is 100% evident when you start to toss the car around corners and such.


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