While all automakers are looking for partnerships and looking for more and more electrical applications in their models, Mazda is taking a completely different path.
About a year ago, the Japanese stopped working with Ford on the production of common models for the development of their own technologies. And these technologies are already a fact. They are called Skyactiv and boldly say NO to the electric drive.
Instead of investing time and money in building batteries and electric motors, Mazda engineers decided to focus their efforts on developing diesel and gasoline internal combustion engines, which they call Skyactiv.
The reason for this seemingly counter-intuitive move by Mazda is market research for the next few years. This shows that by 2020 the global demand for electric or hybrid vehicles will be too low, or at least not so high, to justify the serious resources needed to develop such vehicles.
It is for this reason that Skyactiv technology was born. It includes not only engines, but also transmissions, body and chassis. And the Mazda CX-5 is the first Japanese model to feature the full range of this technology.
Engines of the Skyactiv family, again contrary to generally accepted trends, do not have a reduced volume or fewer cylinders, as well as low power. They are four-cylinder, with a volume of 2.0 and 2.2 liters, develop a maximum power of 165 and 175 hp. respectively. But they are economical — they meet the Euro 6 standard, consuming an average of 4.5 to 6 liters of fuel, depending on whether they run on diesel or gasoline.
There is nothing terrible or unheard of about transmissions either. There are two of them — automatic and mechanical with six steps. The same goes for a structure that is made of steel, not expensive aluminum or carbon.
How, then, is such low fuel consumption achieved without reducing the power or dynamics of the car. Mazda notes that they strive for maximum efficiency of internal combustion engines, maximum lightness of components, optimal design optimization, as well as some simple but ingenious solutions, which we will tell you about today.
For example, the CX-5 shapes, created in accordance with the brand’s new design language «KODO — Spirit of Motion», achieve excellent aerodynamics with an air resistance of just 0.33. The vehicle’s construction uses ultra-high strength steel with a hardness of 1800 MPa, which in addition to the vehicle’s lighter weight helps to reduce fuel consumption, noise and vibration without sacrificing safety — the CX-5 scored five stars in Euro NCAP testing.
This steel is used as a support element in the front and rear bumpers, thus not only providing 20 percent more strength, but overall reducing their weight by 4.8 kg compared to the previous generation of bumpers. High-strength steels make up 61 percent of everything used in the CX-5’s bodywork and thus make a significant contribution to the lightness and high torsional strength of the bodywork and stable handling on the road.
An interesting approach to the soundproofing of the car. In the CX-5 (manual), sound transmission from the engine is blocked by the wheel arches and redirected to the dashboard area, which in turn uses a new material with «excellent sound deadening properties». Tire noise is also blocked by the fenders, while noise from the sills is concentrated in the floor and absorbed by the new sound-absorbing floor covering.
Undoubtedly, however, engines and transmissions play the most important role in vehicle performance. The engines, as already mentioned, are two diesel and two gasoline, and the transmissions are automatic and mechanical.
A weaker version of the 2.2-liter SKYACTIV-D has 150 hp. at 4500 rpm and 380 Nm of torque in the range of 1800-2600 rpm. The more powerful version, offered only in combination with AWD, delivers 175 hp. at 4500 rpm and 420 Nm of torque at 2000 rpm.
Equipped with a 6-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual transmission, the latter accelerates the CX-5 from zero to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 207 km/h. Average fuel consumption, according to Mazda, is only 4.5 l / 100 km (combined cycle for a standard diesel unit with front-wheel drive and manual transmission). This value corresponds to a CO2 emission of just 119 g/km.
The leader of this engine is the wide operating range, which maintains high torque, which, in addition to better dynamics even at low speeds, also ensures significantly lower fuel consumption. In practice, both diesel engines comply with Euro 6 emission levels. The secret lies in a number of innovative solutions, including an extremely low compression ratio (14:1), lightweight construction, cascade charging system with two turbochargers, variable valve timing, ceramic spark plugs, piezo injectors with multiple holes, etc.
The SKYACTIV-G petrol unit has a volume of 2.0 liters and also offers two types of power. A more powerful version, available only with a manual transmission, develops 165 hp. at 6000 rpm and a torque of 210 Nm at 4000 rpm. A weaker modification offers 160 hp. and 208 Nm for all-wheel drive versions at the same speeds.
In front-wheel drive versions of the CX-5, 0 to 100 km/h takes 9.2 seconds and top speed is 200 km/h. According to the Japanese company, fuel consumption of 6.0 l/100 km on the combined cycle corresponds to 139 CO2 emissions. g/km.
The developers of the SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine also sought to create a lightweight design that generates more power with less fuel consumption. As in the case of the diesel unit, here the central element of the strategy is the compression ratio. In the SKYACTIV-G it reaches an extremely high 14:1, and to reduce the tendency to knock that is typical in such cases, along with many new design solutions, a new exhaust system with a 4-2-1 configuration and special pistons are used. Among the optimization technologies there are also injectors with a large number of holes, improved ignition timing and a piston with a special recess for faster and more efficient combustion and reduced risk of detonation, variable valve opening phases (S-VT) and others.
All CX-5 engines are fitted with i-stop start/stop as standard. It «turns off» the engine when the car is at rest and restarts it by pressing the clutch or releasing the brake pedal (for automatic transmissions). The system takes just 0.35 seconds to start the engine with the SKYACTIV-G petrol engine, and 0.40 seconds with the SKYACTIV-D.
Mazda engineers also paid serious attention to the safety of the car. Embedded technologies include Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) to prevent frontal collision at low speeds (4-30 km/h); Lane Departure Warning; High Beam Control System (HBCS), which automatically switches from low beam to high beam and vice versa; Rear Vehicle Monitoring (RVM) which detects vehicles approaching from behind in adjacent lanes as well as stealth zones and warns the driver with LED lights in the associated side mirror, etc.
Innovative solutions are also found in the cockpit, where our attention was drawn to the rear seat, the back of which is divided in a ratio of 4: 2: 4, and the trunk curtain, for which there is a special place in the trunk in case the driver decides to take it apart.
So far, Mazda’s bold decisions regarding the new CX-5 have been more than well received by the public. Mazda’s first Skyactiv model, the CX-5, surpassed even the wildest predictions, registering 8 times more demand than expected. The next model of the Japanese, completely created using Skyactiv technology, will be the new Mazda6, which will be presented in September.