In day and age when all-electric and Hybrid cars seem to dominate the news what is so special about the 2012 Mazda SKYACTIV-G 2.0 Liter engine?
Let’s start with the compression ratio. It is the world’s first gasoline engine to achieve a high compression ratio of 14.0 to 1. For what it’s worth most gas engines today have a compression ratio of 10.0:1 to 12.0:1. It’s understood that if you can raise the compression ratio from let’s say 10.0:1 to 15.1 you would pick up approximately a 9% gain in thermal efficiency.
Ok, so why hasn’t everyone rushed to do this? Basically, because the torque suffers due to engine knocking and knocking is much more likely with a higher compression ratio. While we’re at it, “Knocking” is when the air/fuel mixture ignites too soon due to high temperature and pressure. If you happen to be a total motor head and really want to know all the details please see http://www.mazda.com/mazdaspirit/skyactiv/engine/skyactiv-g.html for more information.
So Mazda’s engineers set out to increase the compression ratio without increasing engine knocking. The result was several revolutionary improvements in the gasoline engine as we know it. It does bear repeating why Mazda took this approach as opposed to taking the hybrid/electric route. Mazda determined that no matter how much we all want to stop using gas, we, as a society will still be using gasoline engines for at least 25 years. Knowing that why throw all of your engineering eggs in the hybrid basket?
The first thing that was improved was the exhaust manifold. Most gas engines have an exhaust manifold that is relatively short and close to the combustion chamber. Mazda increased the length of the exhaust pipes by 600mm and modified the piston to get hot exhaust gasses out of the chamber more efficiently. They also they shortened the time that unburned air/fuel mixture was exposed to high temperatures.
Like we said in the first article, the SKYACTIV system is far more than just a new engine. But we thought that it would be easier to actually understand that SKYACTIV is way more than just another gas engine. In fact when Edmunds.com had several real people drive the 2012 Mazda MAZDA3, the 2012 Honda Civic and the 2012 Toyota Corolla in a head-to-head-to-head evaluation they preferred the MAZDA3’s performance over all three. You can see the actual video here: http://youtu.be/tKr5R6JLqk8
It seems that nearly every car manufacturer is rushing to launch either hybrid or pure electric models. Which, in the grand scheme of things is great, but what good is an electric car when you can’t find a charging station? Hybrids are great, but you generally pay a premium not only when you buy the car, but also on insurance, not to mention when you have to replace the battery packs. For those reasons and just because we love to drive, not just drive but drive a real car with real performance, we are excited about Mazda’s all new SKYACTIV technology.
What is SKYACTIV?
Let’s start with the what. SKYACTIV is not just a new engine, it’s really the whole car, and you have to start with Mazda’s approach to cars as a whole. Their core philosophy is “If it’s not worth driving, it’s not worth building.” Starting with that in mind tthey began to look at ways to build cars that were better for the environment without sacrificing the level of performance that people expect from Mazda. The result truly was revolutionary.
The engine is the soul of the car’s performance. No matter how much we would all like to immediately jump to electric cars, the simple reality is that the basic infrastructure is just not there, more importantly it will take years to get it in place. The truth is that today 95% of the world uses gasoline or diesel combustion engines and 90% still will be in 2020. So we need an engine that simply works better for now. The SKYACTIV-G 2.0L engine produces 10% to 15% more low/mid range torque and yet has 15% lower fuel consumption and emissions than Mazda’s previous 2.0 liter engine. Simply put, you get up to 40 MPG without sacrificing the Zoom Zoom that we have all come to love from Mazda.
Randy Brown of Neil Huffman Mazda said recently “when people realize that they can get a car that gets 40 plus miles per gallon and is still fun to drive we won’t be able to keep them in-stock.” Neil Huffman Mazda General Manager Kent Foushee said “the all new 2012 MAZDA3 with SKYACTIV does just that. It gets 40+ miles per gallon and really is a car that’s fun to drive.”
This is just the first of many articles that will dive deeper into the SKYACTIV system and explore each of the components in depth. We’ll not only look at the technical aspects we’ll get actual feedback from real people that have driven the 2012 Mazda MAZDA3 in the Louisville area and have them share their thoughts as well. Until then please feel free to call Randy Brown at Neil Huffman Mazda if you have any questions.