The sky’s the limit
This new diesel is a quantum leap forward, writes Mark Hinchliffe
THE Sky era at Mazda will begin later this year, with the next update to the class-leading Mazda3.
The engines and transmissions developed under the Skyactiv banner promise greater economy and efficiency, and there is also suspension work to come on all new models — starting with the replacement for the Mazda CX-7.
‘‘Sky will give us bragging rights,’’ managing director of Mazda Australia Doug Dickson says.
‘‘Mazda hasn’t gone down the conventional routes; that gives us an enduring edge. This technology covers everything from engines to materials, weight, chassis and manufacturing, with fuel economy improvements up to 30 per cent by 2015.
‘‘We will have a future Mazda family car with Sky technology that will offer 4.2 litres/100km fuel economy and CO emissions of just 112g/km.
‘‘It will also be more refined, more affordable to make and more fun to drive, which is absolutely fundamental to Mazda.’’
Though the engines and transmissions will be cheaper to manufacture, it’s unlikely they will be cheaper in showrooms. The payoff will come at the pump.
Kyoshi Fuziwara, one of four Japanese executives who ran briefings in Australia on the new technology, also could not promise cheaper production would flow through as cheaper prices, but he said prices would be likely to ‘‘stay the same’’ with the new models.
The first Sky car will have a Skyactiv-G petrol engine and Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission this year. Dickson promises the Skyactiv-D diesel engine with Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission will arrive next year.
‘‘But we’re not saying which ones yet,’’ he says.
Dickson says Mazda is no different from other manufacturers in producing new technologies to save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
‘‘Customers expect that their brand will be fuel efficient, making them free to make their buying decision on design, price and features,’’ he says.
Mazda is following industry trends with the use of lightweight materials, but some Skyactiv methods used to achieve better economy and emissions are unique.
Driving the first Sky cars in Australia, in a very short sampling, shows they are a leap forward.
The Skyativ-D prototype, even without the noise dampening of a production car, sounds quieter than the current diesel. With the automatic gearbox, it accelerates in a linear fashion like no other diesel, pulling to 5300 revs and changing smoothly and decisively.
Bragging rights: Mazda’s Skyactiv-D prototype diesel is smooth.