SKYACTIV technology - Mazda’s bold new efficiency and lightweight programme - delivers driving pleasure, class-leading environmental and exceptional safety performance through the intelligent application of advanced engine, transmission and chassis technology. It made its acclaimed debut in the Mazda CX-5 Compact Crossover SUV, and has been an integral part of all new Mazda models since 2012.
In the Mazda6 Saloon and Tourer, SKYACTIV technology is enhanced by the innovative i-ELOOP – short for intelligent energy loop – Mazda’s proprietary capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system, which boosts economy by up to 10 per cent (depending on driving conditions) when combined with the standard-fit i-stop idle-stop system.
Meticulous examination of everyday driving conditions, with particular attention paid to the recurring cycle of deceleration and acceleration showed that the typical deceleration phase lasts just 10 seconds – a very short time frame to capture a usable amount of lost energy. Opting for an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC) rather than a dedicated battery allowed Mazda’s SKYACTIV engineers to neatly sidestep the limited charging and power storage potential of the lead-acid batteries.
The i-ELOOP system uses a 12V-25V variable voltage alternator to efficiently generate power from the moment the accelerator is released, fully charging the electric double-layer capacitor in as little as seven to 10 seconds – well within the typical single deceleration cycle.
After recharging, the DC/DC converter steps down the voltage of the electricity in the EDLC to 12V to power components like the climate control and audio systems. Any surplus electricity goes to the battery. A full capacitor charge is enough to run the vehicle’s electrical systems for a minute.
During stop-and-go city driving, charging often resumes before the capacitor is fully discharged. This means the i-ELOOP can therefore produce most, if not all, of a Mazda6’s electricity needs, whereas normally some of the engine’s output is required just to drive the alternator. A further benefit of EDLCs is that they can be recharged again and again with minimal deterioration – unlike the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles.
i-ELOOP is therefore the perfect companion for i-stop, since there is no need to revert to battery power even when Mazda’s idle-stop system has shut down the engine.
All Mazda6 models are fitted with Mazda’s innovative i-stop intelligent idle-stop technology. Developed entirely in-house, i-stop is still the only idle-stop system that uses combustion energy for restarting the engine, and only requires an electric-powered starter motor to provide a small degree of momentum during the initial restart phase.
In the SKYACTIV-G petrol engine, i-stop uses a sophisticated control module to switch off the engine during the ignition/expansion stroke – and during the compression stroke for the SKYACTIV-D diesel engine – at the optimal moment for restarting. It does this by constantly monitoring the position of the pistons and calculating prior to the cut-off exactly which cylinders will subsequently deliver the most efficient restart.
In addition to delivering meaningful fuel savings, this restart system enables incredibly quick and smooth restarts that put it competitively above rival systems. The Mazda6 with SKYACTIV-G petrol power features a restart time within 0.35 seconds, while the SKYACTIV-D diesel is 0.40 seconds.
The engineering rationale behind SKYACTIV technology is straightforward. Mazda believes that the internal combustion engine will still account for the overwhelming majority of powertrains in this decade, and that petrol and diesel powerplants still possess a great deal of potential. SKYACTIV technology plays a pivotal role in Mazda’s goal of ensuring its line-up will deliver 30 per cent less CO2 than its cars did in 2008.
To achieve this called for an essential rethink on how best to extract this latent powertrain potential, not just from engines, but from the chassis, body and transmission systems, too. To do this Mazda employed its innovative Monotsukuri system, which examined every aspect of a vehicle’s design, development and production.
Adopting a clean-sheet approach, Mazda’s engineers and designers created a range of advanced engines with world-beating compression ratios, highly efficient transmissions, and sophisticated lightweight body and chassis technology for outstanding crash safety performance.
This radical technology made its debut in the Mazda CX-5 in 2012, and has been a central element of every new car Mazda has produced since, boosting economy, increasing safety, reducing weight and enhancing Mazda’s inimitable Zoom-Zoom dynamic driving experience.
Little surprise then that SKYACTIV technology’s exceptional combination of ultra-low emissions and outstanding economy put it on a par with current hybrid rivals – but without having to pay the associated price or performance penalties. Which means that, rather than adopting costly and compromised technology for a few environmental halo models, SKYACTIV’s benefits are for all Mazda drivers.
Updates to the Mazda6 in 2016 also included the first implementation of Mazda’s SKYACTIV VEHCILE DYNAMICS range of technologies: the first of which is G-Vectoring Control (GVC).
By utilising integrated control of the engine, transmission and chassis to enhance the connection between car and driver, GVC varies engine torque to optimise the load on each wheel. This ingenious and largely imperceptible system improves driver confidence, passenger comfort and vehicle handling via incredibly subtle manipulation of the powertrain. By monitoring steering and throttle position when you enter a corner under power, GVC momentarily reduces the amount of torque delivered to the front wheels, thereby transferring a fraction more weight onto the front axle which allows the front wheels to turn more precisely.The indiscernible nature of GVC means the driver subconsciously reduces any unnecessary steering and throttle movements through the corner. Equally, the smooth way that GVC complements driver inputs, ensures that expert drivers who balance the throttle and maintain smooth steering, won’t have their precision corrupted by an overly intrusive intervention system.
Even on a straight road, GVC can reduce driver fatigue and increase passenger comfort by cleverly taking away the need for the countless tiny corrections that some drivers make when driving straight. In doing this GVC lowers driver effort and reduces the amount of head and body sway small steering corrections can create for passengers.
Working to compliment the mechanical grip of the Mazda6, GVC boosts what is already regarded as one of the best handling cars in the class, and unlike stability control, which only begins to effect dynamic handling at the limit of tyre grip, GVC is a constant unfelt companion that is always helping the driver feel at one with the car – something that is at the very heart of Mazda’s Jinba Ittai driver-and–car-as-one ethos.