Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

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Over the week-end, some of my co-hosts in GeekyNights, TeamTechSquad and a few other tech bloggers were able to test out the Mazda SkyActiv technology in the Mazda 6 and the Mazda CX5.


mazda 6 skyactiv • Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

It is the first time we’ve heard of SkyActiv, a technology developed by Mazda for fuel-efficiency and performance. We’ve been told they re-designed the engine from the ground up and introducing some very clever technology to give their cars more power and better fuel consumption.

Mazda’s contention is that while other manufacturers are leaning towards hybrids or electric cars to deliver more economical solution and fuel-efficiency, the technology is still very expensive. That’s the reason why you’re not seeing a lot of them on the road.

Hence, the challenge for Mazda was to create a better and more efficient engine that could deliver near or almost the same results but still affordable and can be sued in any model. Currently, they have the SkyActiv technology in the Mazda CX5 and the Mazda 6 (and soon, the Mazda 3 SkyActiv coming this May 2014).

mazda 6 philippines • Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

In order for us to better appreciate what SkyActiv is, we participated in what could be a real-world driving scenario using the Mazda 6 and the CX5. The entire group was divided into teams of three, each team competing with the same model (CX5 all-wheel drive, CX5 4×2, and the Mazda 6) and all of which have the SkyActiv technology.

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There were two separate runs — one city driving, going around C5 to Ayala to Buendia, EDSA then to Balintawak; the second one is highway drive along SCTEX running at a cruising speed of 80kmph and 100kmph per run.

mazda6review • Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

To accurately measure the gas consumption, we measure it from full tank to full tank per run and compared it with the trip meter.

In order to minimize external factors, we were made to follow some basic guidelines (like aircon temperature, maintaining engine state, going neutral, and other tricks to save on gas). This way, we are able to simulate normal driving conditions under normal traffic conditions.

mazda6shell • Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

There were two SkyActiv features that actually got us pretty interested in — the iStop and the i-eLoop.

iStop is a feature that actually stops the engine when you’re not moving and you’d stepping down hard on the brakes. The engine automatically restarts once you lift your foot from the brakes or twist the steering wheel.

It’s pretty intuitive so it knows when to activate iStop or not. The feature actually bypasses the spark plug so there’s no wear and tear from that end. What it does is position the piston at a certain way so that the engine can kick it and restart almost immediately when you needed it. Works well along traffic lights and when you’re stuck in the road during peak hours.

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mazda skyactiv • Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

It will also follow certain conditions to make sure the car still has enough power, like deactivating iStop when your aircon temperature is set at 18 degrees or below (since it needs a running engine to maintain that environment). You can also turn off iStop altogether, with a push of a button, if you don’t feel like it.

i-eLoop, on the other hand, is a neat trick. It uses a high-performance capacitor to store energy to power the electronics inside the car. While the car has still one of those standard batteries, they are very slow to re-charge and thus cannot efficiently store excess energy generated while the car is running.

All the excess energy generated by the car is quickly stored by the large capacitor and then used up to power the electronics in the car. This reduces the burden on the regular battery as well. It is estimated that around 5% of the horse power of the car is exhausted by the electronics so by offloading this task to the capacitor, the entire 100% of the HP can be utilized to run the car.

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mazda6philippines • Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

The SkyActiv technology and all of these feature we mentioned could all be just theoretical so the road test was a more practical way to see the efficiency of the engine.

In our Mazda 6, we managed to get a little over 10km/liter on city driving and about 13.5km/liter for highway driving (we didn’t follow the recommended speed of 100kmph and went to about 130kmph). The other teams which were more competitive (the folks from the various car clubs) got around 13-14km/liter for the city drive and 16-17km/liter for the highway run.

Nevertheless, the results will speak for themselves.

mazda6 • Road-testing the Mazda SkyActiv Technology

While the SkyActiv technology is only available in the CX5 and the Mazda 6 at the moment, Mazda Philippines is scheduled to launch the newly designed Mazda 3 SkyActiv this May with a starting price of Php899,000. It should also be interesting to see how much fuel-efficient the Mazda 3 is once it comes out in the streets by then.

{Photo credits: Victor Basa}

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