Tips & advice

What is Mazda SkyActiv?

We explain everything you need to know about Mazda’s SkyActiv range of engines, gearboxes and other technologies

Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X - front tracking

SkyActiv originally started life as the Mazda Sky concept, which was unveiled at the 2008 Tokyo Motor Show. It is the brand name given to a number of technologies - including engines and gearboxes - developed by Japanese manufacturer Mazda and featured across its range of cars. 

The original offering consisted of petrol and diesel engines, as well as an automatic gearbox. The concept then developed into the SkyActiv project for its implementation in Mazda’s series production vehicles.

The focus of SkyActiv is efficiency, specifically the development of petrol and diesel engines with low emissions and high fuel economy but minimal downside in terms of performance. 

SkyActiv engines

There are three main families of engines under the Mazda SkyActiv umbrella. These are SkyActiv-G - a range of direct-injection petrol engines, SkyActiv-D - a family of turbocharged diesel engines and SkyActiv-X - an advanced petrol engine using compression ignition technology. 

• Mazda 3 SkyActiv-X 2019 review

The SkyActiv-G petrol units were originally designed to meet the ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) standards in the US. There have been a number of different variants, the first of which entered production in 2011.

Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X - engine bay

SkyActiv-D turbocharged units meanwhile aim to eliminate the need for expensive NOx and particulate treatment in diesel engines with clean combustion processes.

New to the SkyActiv engine range is the SkyActiv-X petrol unit, which Mazda describes as an “intersection” of SkyActiv-G and SkyActiv-D, combining the free-revving characteristics of a petrol engine with the fuel efficiency, torque and fast initial response of a diesel engine. It runs on petrol but can ignite its fuel using the more efficient compression ignition technology of a diesel. 

SkyActiv-Hybrid engines share technology with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system. The first retail Mazda using this was unveiled in 2013. In addition, there’s also a SkyActiv-CNG engine, which is powered by compressed natural gas.

Mazda has also previously shown off a SkyActiv-R concept, slated as the new generation rotary engine. Unfortunately, this engine has not yet made production and details are scarce.

SkyActiv gearboxes

While many manufacturers use dual-clutch technology in their automatic transmissions, Mazda didn’t think this type of gearbox performed well enough in certain situations and therefore decided to create its own.

In what was a re-design of a conventional automatic transmission, Mazda reduced the burden on the torque converter, which is disengaged most of the time by a multi-plate clutch. The result was a six-speed SkyActiv automatic gearbox offering high levels of efficiency.

Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X - skyactiv-x badge

SkyActiv-MT, on the other hand, is a family of manual transmissions. Thanks to Mazda’s innovation, SkyActiv-MT gearboxes have the shortest shift of any passenger car, reducing the amount of effort the driver has to put in.

SkyActiv body

SkyActiv-Body, as the name suggests, is a lightweight, highly rigid car body, which was designed with crash testing in mind. This body is eight per cent lighter and 30 per cent stiffer than previous generations.

Mazda CX-30 SkyActiv-X 2020 review

The high-tensile steel SkyActiv-Body uses is the thinnest in its class, helping Mazda ensure its models are lightweight, while also scoring highly in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Do you own a Mazda SkyActiv? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below...

Recommended

New Mazda CX-60 and CX-80 plug-in hybrid SUVs confirmed for the UK
Mazda badge
Mazda

New Mazda CX-60 and CX-80 plug-in hybrid SUVs confirmed for the UK

New large SUV duo will offer up to seven seats and will come with plug-in tech and six-cylinder power
7 Oct 2021
Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025
Mazda electric plan
Mazda

Mazda to launch 10 new hybrids and three new EVs by 2025

The electrification push forms part of Mazda’s goal to become a completely carbon neutral company by 2050
17 Jun 2021
Mazda launches updated e-Skyactiv X powertrain 
Mazda e-Skyactiv
News

Mazda launches updated e-Skyactiv X powertrain 

New 2.0-litre engine is available in the Mazda3 and CX-30 with promises of improved efficiency over the old Skyactiv X unit
1 Mar 2021

Most Popular

New Kia EV6 2021 review
Kia EV6 front tracking
Kia EV6

New Kia EV6 2021 review

With a sporty drive, 300-plus miles of range and plenty of tech - could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?
19 Oct 2021
The best 0% finance car deals 2021
Best 0% finance car deals - header
Best cars & vans

The best 0% finance car deals 2021

Tempted by a 0% APR deal? Here are our best 0% finance deals starting from only £145...
21 Oct 2021
New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch
Michelin Uptis
News

New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch

The new airless Michelin Uptis is made from rubber and fibreglass and promises to be longer lasting, fuel-saving and recyclable
20 Oct 2021