By on February 16, 2014

2014 Mazda Mazda6 Exterior

As other manufacturers downsize their offerings to meet ever-increasing fuel economy milestones, Mazda’s SkyActiv program utilizes engine geometry to hit those marks, resulting in the automaker’s current offerings looking rear-wheel drive while feeling front-wheel drive.

In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Mazda Europe design boss Peter Birthwhistle explained that since the automaker’s SkyActiv technology allows for engine size to remain larger than the competition, the layout of the exhaust system results in the passenger cell being pushed back to accommodate a “sloped angle” where the pipes exit from the engine. In turn, the overall look is that of the traditional long hood/short deck RWD layout in spite of the power going toward the front.

Turning toward alternative power, Birthwhistle mentioned a few offerings in the works, including a hybrid variant of the 3, a rotary-powered range extender that may see use in a future plug-in hybrid, and a move into electric vehicles. That said, the designer sees a lot of continuing potential with the internal combustion engine:

There’s still a lot of potential in conventional engines. They remain very inefficient in terms of things like heat loss. Get that sorted out and there’s amazing potential in gasoline engines in terms of fuel economy.

Looking further into the future, Birthwhistle also believed that by 2100, most cars will be automated personal pods, with small cars made for weekend warriors to use on track days.

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92 Comments on “Birthwhistle: Mazda’s SkyActiv Program Influences RWD Design In FWD Vehicles...”


  • avatar
    rileyru

    2100… I won’t still be here, but my child might…

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    What is the advantage of that sloped exhaust?
    Looks to me a waste of space to move that cabin rear.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      It’s not that it’s “sloped”. The key feature is that the individual header pipes from each cylinder are long enough that the pulse coming from the beginning of a given cylinder’s exhaust stroke (which starts happening before bottom-dead-center) don’t contaminate the cylinder previous in the firing order which is just finishing its exhaust stroke, because the distance down one header pipe to the junction and back up the other header pipe is long enough to stop it happening at much lower revs than would be the case otherwise. Less exhaust dilution lowers cylinder temperature which is apparently one of the keys for achieving that engine’s high compression ratio.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Look at NA sports car header design or look at a tuner catalog specializing in naturally aspirated power. The biggest bolt-on mod most people can do to make more power is a long-tube header, which is what Mazda is essentially doing here. This improves exhaust gas scavenging, moving more air through the head making more power.

      My previous car (Acura RSX-S) has a short 4-1 merging into a 3″ collector and 2″ tube before the exhaust goes through the cat stock. The JDM Type-R variants have a long-tube design before the cat and that swap alone is worth 7-10hp. The most popular mod in the community is a cat-delete long-tupe header, which can make nearly 20+hp extra in the mid-range and about 15 on the top end.

      I’m sure with all of the other modifications to contemporary engine design Mazda has done there is something done that makes it more efficient, not just more powerful.

  • avatar
    Atum

    I predict America will hit Stage 5 of the epidemiologic transition and everyone will become sick. Autonomous cars are too hard to master; sorry Mr. European Mazda Dude.

  • avatar
    rdchappell

    Way too much front overhang to ever mistake for RWD.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    And here I was guessing that “birthwhistle” was the opposite of “deathwatch”.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    They’re still looking for rotary applications? I always thought they should look into steam (or a closed loop inert gas), using an external firebox for combustion tuned to wring the most BTUs from the fuel. I also wonder why the rotary isn’t called by its inventor’s name, Wankel, anymore. Too many dirty jokes?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      In order to beat the efficiency of a decent internal-combustion engine, a Rankine (“steam”) engine has to operate at very high boiler pressure, with multiple stages of expansion and reheat, and with combustion air preheated by boiler exhaust. Utility power generation systems do all of those things but it’s kinda hard to fit all that in something the size and weight of an automotive powerplant. And they can only operate efficiently in a rather narrow range of power output (utility power generation is locked to the 50 or 60 Hz AC frequency).

      A simple Rankine cycle – a traditional steam engine – has a pretty lousy thermal efficiency.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        @Brian P: I don’t think @Lorenzo meant an engine with a separate, external boiler, but an “IEE” — an “Internal Evaporation Engine”:

        You use an external *burner* to generate a hot air/gas mixture, suck that into a piston engine, and add water in stead of ignition in the engine itself. That way you get continuous burning in stead of thousands of separate combustion processes per minute, which a) should be much easier to adapt for a much wider range of fuels than the ICE, making for a true “multi-fuel” engine; and b) at least to this layman feels as if it should also be tunable to higher fuel efficiency than the ICE.

        The easiest way to build it, at least for prototyping, would be to take a Diesel engine and have it inject water in stead of Diesel fuel through the high-pressure injectors.

        You might also have to reverse its breathing path so it inhales through what used to be the exhaust ports and exhales through the erstwhile intakes, because the exhaust ports are usually designed to better withstand high temperatures than the intake ports. This engine would inhale hot and exhale cool, as opposed to an ICE. If you start from a DOHC engine, I I think you could just swap the camshafts, or rotate them a bit in relation to each other (and possibly the crankshaft), to achieve this reversed flow; only in the worst-case scenario would you have to fabricate custom ones.

        If I’m not mistaken, some engines already partly do this, by redirecting exhaust from one cylinder to generate steam in another. I also have faint memories of reading about this latter partial implementation in the German motoring press as far back as the early eighties. The way I recall it, it was the Buchmann brothers — yes, the outrageous modifiers of Porsches, of all people! — who were experimenting with Audi engines. But these are very old and veeery faint memories.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      IC uses the heat better, especially in small steam engines your heat losses would be big before the steam even enters the turbine/steam engine.

      in addition your workign fluid (air) also contains the fuel, so you don’t need heat exchangers and don’t have the heat exhanger losses. In a steam boiler, much of the hot exhaust gas goes out the boiler without ever generating steam. All this can be overcome a bit with large scale machines, likein power plants. but for small mootors, no.

      In addition rankine cycles really need to operate for long time at one operating point. A power plant doesn’t turn on and off in a second like your ICE. Not too many people like to pre-heat the car for 2 hours before they drive. and your short distance fuel economy would be horrible.

      Yes external combustion can be efficient on large scale with a lot lot lot of plumbing. An Ecoboost motor would be considered super simple compared to a rankin cycle that is nearly efficient. In addition power plants don’t worry about weight, and have huge cooling towers with water. Will you carry a water tank with your car to cool the condenser? I didn’t think so.

      As for Wankel, same way gasoline engines are called gas engines and not Otto motors anymore. Diesel stuck his name to the fuel, so he stayed famous :)

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        I don’t think Rudolf did that himself; people did it for him. We could just as well be calling petrol/gasoline “Otto fuel”, AFAICS. Oh, look: That’s just what they do in Germany: http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Benzin , http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzin .

        (Too bad, BTW: The German word, “Benzin”, is NOT derived from Benz.)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I applaud Mazda for thinking outside of the box, but I doubt the model line will be migrated to this new technology en masse (maybe a new Millenia/929?) Depending on your locale, most buyers expect FWD and desire AWD despite all of its caveats it’s what they want. Traditional longitudinal RWD is not what “they” are after unless extreme weather changes (as most of the US is experiencing) are not a concern.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I just keep shoveling, and it just keeps snowing.

      But that ends this week. We’re going to see a 60F day Thursday.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      28-Cars-Later: huh? I don’t think you read the article correctly (or have I misread your comment?). The point is that new Mazdas have designs that appear to be RWD, but are still FWD. There’s no suggestion here or elsewhere that they are going to RWD. The SkyActiv chassis and engine concept *has* been applied to all of their offerings, aside from the Miata and long in the tooth CX-9.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    MazdaSpeed6 is dead for sure? No Zoom-zoom?

    I love marketing from Honda and Mazda, Earthdreams and Skyactiv when all they do is tweak the 2.0/2.4 engine programming, 0w20 motor oil, gear ratios, add some aero underbody panels, undersized tires for a 3300 lbs car, and lighten the chassis and they still can’t break 40 mpg on the highway. Add in AWD and they never beat four-oh with a normally aspirated 4-cylinder.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      God called and asked for the address of Trifecta Tuning, you know the outfit that knows more about GM engines than GM itself. Why yes, he’s been wondering about how they soup up an old iron block Opel engine to insane power levels in the beyond elegant Buick Encore hand-crafted in Korea and obtaining thermal efficiency better than the world’s most efficient ship diesel engines, when others just can’t crack the code.

      Better hurry up because he’s threatening to revoke your “always driving downhill privileges, tra la la ,tra la de boom dee ay”. You lost the “cruising with the wind behind me” add-on when you sold the Saab, you bad boy.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The Saab 9-5 still rolls in my fleet with 1990′s technology that results in efficiency that NA Japanese V6 and fours could only dream of . :)

        Turbo-4′s don’t spin at wastegated maximum 100,000 rpms all time. Only time it would elevated temperatures is merging on the highway for daily driving. Along with being watercooled since 1980′s there is no problem for the turbo to last 300,000 miles for a $50.00 rebuild with new journal bearing and seals. The new GM Ecotec Turbos run 6 quarts of blended syntheitc for 7,500 miles on 87 octane.

        This summer I’ll compare a 7 mile commute to my normal 118 mile mostly highway commute. I’ve been driving 25-35 mph suburbs and usually see mid-30′s once up to speed. Shifting at 1,500-1,800 rpms the torque of the direct injected turbo can easy match traffic speeds.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Nope, still don’t believe you.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            No one does. CR found his rides are, at best, mediocrities.

          • 0 avatar
            Macca

            Norm scoffs at Honda/Mazda marketing but gladly laps up that which GM serves up.

            The EPA’s MPG ratings on the Encore are 25/33. So what he’s saying is that if he drives as grannily as possible, (shifting at 1,500-1,800 RPMs – which is where ALL the fun is) he sees “mid-30′s” at 25-35 MPH. Quite a stunning achievement of GM’s South Korean engineering.

            One can read a great deal of over compensation in his glowing reports – perhaps there’s some buyer’s remorse and this incessant praise salves his bruised ego?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I don’t know whether Norm is a troll or just out of his skull and really bad at math. Whichever it is, I wouldn’t suggest taking him seriously.

          • 0 avatar
            Atum

            “The little 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder and six-speed automatic deliver anemic acceleration, however, and fuel economy is just so-so.” -Consumer Reports, 2014 Buick Encore.

            Turbos don’t always equal great power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            T.T.A.C. = Trifecta Tune All Cars is for real. At least in the turbo-4 world.

            Even our very own Alex Dykes review of the Encore AWD, and backed up by Motorweek AWD review, have exceeded EPA Highway when doing a review in a “combined” environment….on AWD. I’ll spell it out: all wheel drive. Show me a review of a normally aspirated engine passenger car that can exceed EPA highway in a combine driving environment. That’s right there is none.

            http://www.motorweek.org/reviews/road_tests/2013_buick_encore

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-buick-encore-video/

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            http://www.fuelly.com/car/buick/encore/2013

            http://www.fuelly.com/car/mazda/cx-5/2014

            ???

            The CX-5 has more power than the Encore, which has a tiny engine and poor high speed performance (as per the reviews cited), yet fuel economy seems in the same ballpark. And this is despite the CX-5 having tightly stacked gears for better acceleration.

            I’ve hit nearly forty mpg myself in the CX-5. Pretty swell car, especially with the start-stop system.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The Encore produces 160 lb-ft of torque in overboost where the CX-5 2.0l makes 150 lb-ft. the Encore wins braking to a stop, acceleration in the 1/4 mile according to AWD Car & Driver;

            http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-buick-encore-fwd-awd-test-review

            http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-mazda-cx-5-touring-awd-test-review

            The above example the turbo-4 makes about 15 less lb-ft of torque but as you can see the Encore has more torque under the curve for acceleration.

    • 0 avatar
      Atum

      This is why hybrids exist; mostly the same as the normal sedan variant, except over 40 MPG highway. Your mention of AWD made me think of something that would probably sell in massive numbers, especially in the northern markets where it’s most common.

      An AWD Prius.

      And the MazdaSpeed 6 should be resurrected. Maybe they’re taking the time to develop new technology to suit the new redesign. If a Speed 6 for this generation was in the works, I’d expect it to be revealed in the summer and on sale by this time next year.

      • 0 avatar
        Demetri

        A Mazdaspeed6 is still a possibility, it’s just not a priority right now. The name of the game for Mazda at this point is sustained profitability, and that means focusing on core products. At the top of Mazda’s development queue is the new Mazda2, Miata, and CX-9. They can’t do any Mazdaspeed models because they don’t have a suitable engine for it. We probably won’t see that until the new CX-9 comes out, as the 2.5L may not cut it for that model. They haven’t developed their own V6 since the 90s, and I don’t see them pulling a Porsche 968 with a 3.0L I4, so it will be a turbocharged unit. Rumor is that there are some issues with turbocharging these high compression Skyactiv engines; I don’t know if that is true or not.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Talking with a Mazda guy (corporate, not a dealership) at the local auto show, he said MazdaSpeed is NOT dead. He said they still haven’t made a decision, but he expects a Speed3 with a diesel. He gave no indication of a Speed6, though.

          Mazda has publicly said that SkyActiv engines are not designed for boost, so I don’t expect to see that. They built their manufacturing process to include making the 3.7L V6, so I personally expect that will continue. The 2.2L diesel (if they ever get it sorted out) would be ideal for the CX-9, but that boat needs to lose ~400 lb, regardless.

          • 0 avatar
            Demetri

            Speed3 with a diesel sounds awful. The Skyactiv diesel 2.2 makes less horsepower than the gas 2.5, and if you thought the Speed3 had torque steer issues with the MZR turbo engine, think about how bad it will be with 310 lb-ft hooked up to the front wheels. You might as well just carry over the current Speed3 engine in that case, even with the poor fuel economy.

            I think Mazda would have to be pretty desperate to continue with the Cyclone 3.7 V6. It’s a dead end without the partnership with Ford, who has had much better version of that engine for ~3 years now.

      • 0 avatar
        Fat Man Of La Mancha

        Hybrid nothing, the reason cars like the prius can hit +40 mpg is because the engine a 1.6L atkinson cycle engine. A engine that size in a midsizer by itself would be unbearably sluggish. The prius has an electric motor to makeup for that at lower speeds and at highway speeds the engine does not have to use anywhere near it’s peak horsepower. The Camry which is a closer match to a Mazda 6 has an engine roughy the same size as the 6 (2.5L) but gets a few miles per gallon less than the 6. That is where the gains made by Skyactive are. I’m sure hybrids also use a lot of the same aerodynamic tricks to add a few more points to the MPG number.

        I’m sure if they wanted to they could stuff a compact size engine in a midsizer and hit +40mpg pretty cheap but it would not be very fun to drive.

        Come to think of it, that might explain why the Ford and GM are going with turbos in their midsizers.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Ahow close to 100 horsepower car do you want to drive? They can get the fuel economy but at what cost?

          Turbo-4 can get it with no penalty in performance, unlike the special fours and hyrbids.

          • 0 avatar
            Fat Man Of La Mancha

            Hybrids and turbos are two solutions to the same problem. How do you get the public to buy a smaller displacement engine to raise the mpg?

            Turbos get high mileage by being smaller. Take the turbo out and it will still get +40mpg on the highway but you wouldn’t want to drive it if you have to stop, slow down, speed up, basically anything to upset the momentum.

            The problem with them is reliability, say what you want about modern manufacturing standards but anything that is spinning +10000 rpm running at +1500°F is bound to wear out faster than something going 300rpm at 200°F and when it does it will be expensive.

            I know the manufactures make it seem like a turbo is basically a mileage adder but that is just marketing talk. Turbos are for POWER. You can get away with less displacement if you stick a turbo on it, tune it to raise the power band and level out at a target horsepower number to make up for any sluggishness at lower speeds. Low boost so the mileage hit stops once you get to highway speeds and stay there (the impeller spooled up and the exhaust bypass open).

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Cylinder deactivation is another trick to skin the same cat.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Cylinder deactivation bothers me. I feel you’ll end up with half an engine (or what have you) more worn out than the other half.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Cylinder deactivation bothers me. I feel you’ll end up with half an engine (or what have you) more worn out than the other half.”

            Not really, all cylinders still get lubrication. The only impact I’ve seen was on a few GM LS engines where the “cold” cylinders had more carbon buildup than the others. Nothing that a bit of hard acceleration from time to time shouldn’t cure.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Doesn’t that make exhaust components like the cats and the O2 sensors more complicated/fragile/$$$?

  • avatar
    Kinosh

    Saying “Inefficient… in heat loss. Get that sorted out” is ridiculous. That’s like an airline saying “We could burn a lot less fuel if gravity wasn’t so damn strong”.

    We’re pretty effectively at the thermodynamic limits of ICE engines for auto applications with today’s tech while still dealing with all the cost/size/weight/other constraints.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      +1000
      Usually non-engineers are the ones that think 40% efficiency is wasteful. Per decree they assume one can just go to 99% efficiency. If the oil industry just would release that 100 mpg carburetor they keep hiding in that drawer. ……

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Saying “Inefficient… in heat loss. Get that sorted out” is ridiculous.”

      I disagree. Current engines lose around a third of the inputted fuel energy as heat. Just because modern engines are incredibly efficient compared to what they used to be doesn’t mean that reducing those heat losses wouldn’t make them even more efficient. Cutting that 30% heat loss to 20% (without it then going out the tailpipe as enthalpy) would truly be a game-changer.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Way back when, extreme power turbo mods used to get ceramic coatings in the combustion chamber to lock more heat in where it’s good. It’s a long way from production cost or tune/reliability, but I’m really hoping they’ve actually got something realistic in mind. Cross flow exchangers to recover heat are too space/weight consuming (OK, that’s sort of what turbos do but there’s a mechanical transfer and the energy is somewhere else besides heat in Bernoulis equation.) ICE’s suck, until you compart them to the alternatives.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    @HKL,
    I like your posts I am glad you found TTAC.
    Tell me, which cars do you like? I totally agree with you on reliabilty, but please give me some cars to research.
    Thanks

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      That depends on your needs like cargo and seating. Any advice here will be questioned…. but my personal favorite brands to get good transportation are Honda and Toyota.
      But at TTAC there will be many advising for sportier cars.

      You priorities wil matter, also your willingness and availability to wrench.

      My personal car need is to go to work, transport some stuff, be safe, have minimum shop time and cost for repair and maintenance. Cheap tires…. for example when I purchased my CRV I priced out CRV tires ar $450, the Mazda CX5 tires almost $1000 and horrible snow performance.

      Just my personal priorities. .

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        So I am assuming you were comparing the CR-V’s 17″ OE tires versus the CX-5′s 19″? Of course the 19″ low-profile tires will cost more. Looking at TireRack.com, it looks like there are four different 225/55R19 options for the CX-5 that cost around $650 for a set of four versus the pricey Toyos that come stock.

        So that’s $200 more than the set of tires on the CR-V. Assuming you get 25,000 miles out of your tires and keep the car for 150,000 miles (which is a stretch for most folks) you’d be looking at buying tires six times – your total extra outlay for the 19″ tires on the CX-5 would only be $1200. Do you only buy the OE tire when the time comes to replace? I’ve found many OE tires to be some of the lowest rated on sites like Tire Rack (the awful Goodyear Eagle RSA Mazda put on the Mazda3 comes to mind).

        One reason I can see preferring the Honda’s 17″ tires is ride quality, I’m sure the additional sidewall provides a little more cushion than the thin 225/55R19′s on the Mazda.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I think Mazda’s new design language is gorgeous. I also do like the longer hoods that it tends to give them.

    Oh and anyone who thinks the Mazda’s don’t look RWD, compare them to a KIA Optima.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    The look works on the 6, but on the 3? Not so much, which disappoints me a bit as a recent owner of a last generation MAZDASPEED3. Great car – even with the Picachu front end – that I regret trading in to this day. Adulthood.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Three things don’t work for me on the new 3:
      - The rising belt line kills visibility and makes the overall profile look wonky.
      - The long hood combined with the sloping hatch make it look like shoe. Renderings of the 3 as a wagon (taking the 3 front end & merging the 6 wagon’s back end) look much better.
      - The emblem & grille are out of proportion.

  • avatar
    V6

    the mid-late 90′s Acuras (Vigor/TL/Legend) had very short front overhang and RWD proportions for FWD cars too thanks to their longitudinal layout

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      IF I recall, those cars had transverse layout, but had the transmission in front of the engine for better weight destribution, which, from a packaging perspective only makes sense with todays required pedestrian impact standards, it’s too bad no one is currently doing that…The Chrylser cloud cars had longitudinal layout however.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Shortly before I sold our 2007 MX5 to our neighbor (he still loves it, BTW), I was at the Mazda dealer having the oil changed and I was checking out the Mazda 6.

    I was impressed with the styling, which is beautiful, and did briefly consider one a couple of months before I settled on another Impala.

    Classic styling, which is always a good thing.

  • avatar
    redav

    “Birthwhistle mentioned a few offerings in the works, including a hybrid variant of the 3, a rotary-powered range extender that may see use in a future plug-in hybrid, and a move into electric vehicles. That said, the designer sees a lot of continuing potential with the internal combustion engine”

    AFAIK, the hybrid 3 is already released in the Japanese market. An AWD 3 is also available in Japan (but only on smaller engines). They’ve already built the rotary range extender, but it doesn’t meet emissions limits to be able to go to market. There’s also been plenty of talk of SkyActiv II and III, which is HCCI (homologous charge compression ignition) and adiabatic combustion, respectively. Apparently they already can make HCCI work, but they haven’t figured out how to make it work at all engine speeds and/or transition between it and regular spark ignition. Adiabatic combustion is more pie in the sky–generally insulating an engine will just cause the energy to go out the tailpipe, but perhaps that’s one reason they decided against turboing their engines. If they insulate the engine to minimize heat loss, they could then install a turbo-like device in the exhaust to capture that energy, perhaps in the form of electricity. Of course, this is complete speculation.

    Back before SkyActiv was released, I read an article explaining their strategy. It was the best thought-out & holistic plan I’ve seen.
    1. Optimize the ICE. The ICE will be the foundation of cars for decades to come. Even if everything becomes a hybrid, they will still depend on the engine being efficient.
    2. Optimize electrification. Electric steering, iEloop, regenerative braking, etc. EVs obviously need everything to be electric, but even hybrids need the electronics optimized. This is a necessary stage gate to get the most out of either hybrids or EVs.
    3. Electric propulsion (hybrid). Add the motor.
    4. Electric propulsion (only). Eventually remove the engine.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I use my passengers for range extenders.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    RWD-looking FWDs, coupe-like sedans, why can’t we make cars that embrace their attributes?

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    Can anyone here let me know what ever happened to engines using 5 valves per cylinder? It seems that none uses this tech anymore. Audi was the last to use it I think but now gone. I have always thought that combining 5 vpc, DI, Cylinder deactivation, start-stop and EH processes would develop a very efficient engine. Guess I was wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      I am guessing that variable valve timing gives the same increased exhaust port volume as 5 vpc; without the added complication. It also has the added benefit of being variable in volume.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Many motorcycles use 5 valves/cylinder. Motorcycle engines, especially from Yamaha, make car engines look like a joke.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      There isn’t enough real-estate on top of the piston for everything. As it is, you need space for four valves, a spark plug (or two) and (increasingly) a direct injection nozzle.

      Honda actually went backwards when they first designed the L-series engine in Fit. Certain markets got one with dual spark plugs and three valves. Those engines were legendary for their frugality. They were also dog slow compared to the VTEC L-series that replaced them.

  • avatar

    Mazda continues to make the right moves to remain the choice of cheap practical transport for the discerning driving enthusiast. Even the old standby Protege was somehow tuned to be delightfully sharp near comparable to the 3-series of the time at less than half the price, nevermind the effervescent Miata. The cars lost some of the impeccable feel with electric steering, but never the zoom-zoom spirit.

    Mazda also tends to create their styling cues in sheetmetal rather than accents in chrome or such (eg nissan) and as a result have some of the better looking cars in light colors where shape outlines dominate.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @agenthex
      Effervescent Miata??

      Is this similar to a ‘blue or medium rare’ Kia Soul?

      Or, here’s a good one, a ‘devilish cocktail’ of drivetrain components in a Ram pickup?

      Driving my BT50 (Mazda) is like driving with a hint of spice entwined in an aromatic garlic adventure.

      Wow, what literary skills you have;)

      Wow!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      If Mazda is so good why does they hold three of the Top Ten used cars?

      http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/car-dealer-scientific-guide-10-worst-used-vehicles-222709616.html

      • 0 avatar

        1. I was speaking on driving dynamics. Driving dynamics is not the same thing as end-of-life reliability for those slower on the take.

        2. End-of-life reliability as measured by that site is useful for evaluating older trades but not necessarily for anyone interested in buying the usual late model or new car. Mazda generally does pretty well on CR which is a 10yr span for actual owners.

        3. There also seems to be systemic bias in the study; there’s no reason why scion should score that much lower than toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        I know I shouldn’t feed the troll…but that list is pretty obvious to me and hardly speaks to Mazda’s overall quality. Here’s my take on these three cars Mazda no longer makes:

        1. Mazda 626 – this car was last sold in the US in 2002 before being replaced by the far superior Mazda6. The transmission woes are due to the Ford CD4E transmission that was used in the 626 – a car built in Flat Rock, MI. So the newest example is now around 12 years old and likely used up anyway.

        2. Mazda Millenia – this car was last sold in the US in 2003. It was an ambitious attempt at an up-market lux sedan that was intended for Mazda’s luxury brand that never was (Amati). It contained an oddball Miller cycle engine and other complexities that made it a maintenance nightmare for higher mileage, out-of-warranty versions. A bit of a one-off that was axed as Mazda revamped its US lineup over a decade ago.

        3. Mazda CX-7 – another car Mazda no longer makes, although this one bowed out in 2012. The turbo-four was troublesome and returned awful fuel mileage. It has since been replaced by the vastly superior CX-5.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    Mazda has my styling vote hands down these days. The new 6 seems like a sleek revision of the late 1990′s before every car got an ass-end that’s six feet high with no rearward visibility. Sexy. And a grille that’s not copying Hyundai/Mercedes. Refreshing.

    To my eye, the new Mazdas DO look a bit rear-wheel drive because of the front end, mainly the length between the front doors and the wheel-wells. Much better looking than most of the other vanilla front-driver bullsh*t out right now.


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