Car manufacturers always come up with all sorts of different names for the technologies that they create for use with their vehicles. In the case of Japanese car manufacturer Mazda, the latest series of technologies that they produced are classed under the SKYACTIV moniker.

But what exactly is SKYACTIV, and how does it affect engine performance and general car driveability? I take a look into what SKYACTIV is all about, and help to demystify the technology.

Where did SKYACTIV come from?

Perhaps the earliest known predecessor to the Mazda SKYACTIV technology dates back to 2009 when the carmaker featured the Kiyora concept car with SKY-G and SKY-D engines at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Fast-forward a couple of years and the technology is now being used across a number of different Mazda models.

What exactly is SKYACTIV?

SKYACTIV refers to a series of engine, transmission and chassis technologies that are designed to make Mazda cars cheaper to run, more powerful and generally more efficient on the road.

The car manufacturer claims that the technology makes their standard models perform just as well as sports cars, with no compromise on safety, performance or drivability. Here is a more-detailed rundown on how the Mazda SKYACTIV technologies work:

Engines

When referring specifically to engine technology, SKYACTIV features a number of petrol (SKYACTIV-G) and diesel (SKYACTIV-D) engines, both of which are high-compression engines; the Mazda website says that the engines have a compression ratio of 14:0:1 with no “pinking” (engine knocking).

For those of you that don’t know much about how internal combustion engines work, if the compression in an engine is high this will result in better performance and fuel economy because the combustion process is more-efficient.

Diesel engines are typically high-compression anyway, but car manufacturers have not been able to produce high-compression petrol engines due to problems with engine knocking when used with lower octane petrol (such as 95-RON). For Mazda, this is obviously a great breakthrough in the motor industry because it means people can still buy cheaper grades of petrol for their Mazda but benefit from bigger performance and fuel economy figures.

Transmissions

Mazda has produced a series of manual and automatic transmissions that fall under the SKYACTIV moniker. The producer of models such as the MX-5 and the CX-5 say that these new transmissions are designed to be as efficient as possible, whilst not negatively affecting driver operation.

Chassis

An important part of how future Mazda models are developed is down to what every individual component is housed in – the chassis. Some existing and all future models use SKYACTIV chassis technology to offer excellent rigidity whilst making the body as lightweight as possible.

Such differences in chassis technology mean that engines don’t have to be as powerful or heavy in order to achieve certain desired levels of performance (something known in the motor industry as the power to weight ratio).

The car manufacturer had decided to set themselves a target weight loss of 100 kilograms in the current models they build, and they were able to do so thanks to the re-engineered and redesigned chassis structures.

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