Mazda6 Skyactiv test drive
Mazda6 Skyactiv
Mazda6 Skyactiv

It’s not a hybrid, it has no electric motor and yet the Mazda 6 Skyactiv achieves impressive performance. Find out how we rated this Mazda 6 sedan after our seven day test drive.

Mazda has not embraced hybrid technology as its local competitors have. Instead, it chose the unlikely route to push the envelope of piston technology to unparalleled levels. The result is what the company calls its Skyactiv technology. In a nutshell, the Skyactiv philosophy is based on using lighter bodies, chassis, transmissions, especially gearbox, as well as technology to squeeze a lot of performance out of its engines.

Mazda plunked down serious research money into its a highly optimized piston engine system by raising its thermal efficiency, using a very high compression ratio usually left to racing, direct injection, turbo and less mechanical friction loss than with normal gasoline engines. The trick is in the detail of its intelligent two cycle injection system that combines a low pressure one to cool off the chamber, followed by a high-compression that disperses evenly the gasoline for a more optimize explosion. Even the headers were retooled to handle the high-compression and not create backfires.

Skyactiv Explained.

Mazda6 Skyactiv
Mazda6 Skyactiv


It would be hard to rate the Mazda 6 Skyactiv without briefly talking about what Skyactiv is. A common misconception is to think the Skyactiv technology is a hybrid system. It is not, yet it offers similar performance. Think of the best of gasoline, diesel and hybrid systems into one. High compression pistons have been around since gasoline powered cars were raced. It is normal for race cars to sport high compressions, 13:1 to 15:1 and higher, while most road cars are happy with 7:1 and sometimes 10:1 on more modern engines. When you lower compression, you create less stress, however you lower performance. Mazda here achieves a 13:1 compression system, similar to diesel technology in an every day gasoline car without any of the usual backfires and knocking problems.

Turbo charging a gasoline engine is the best way to shove a lot of air in the chambers to raise horsepower. In order to keep emissions and fuel consumption down, it needs to have a direct chamber injection. Most car manufacturers stop here and call it a day, but not Mazda. The company uses a two-stage injection system, giving it the recipe for a lot of performance with little fuel consumption.

Mazda6 Skyactiv
Mazda6 Skyactiv

Technically speaking.

The Mazda 6 Skyactiv is a front wheel drive sedan producing 184 HP, with 185 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6 speed manual steering wheel mounted pad shifter and a brilliant automatic mode. We can’t overstate how great the automatic gearbox is. As enthusiastic journalists, we prefer using the car with its manual transmission, but the Skyactiv The overall EPA estimates a 25/37 mpg is easily achievable if you let the automatic gearbox works so well, we just let do its job. We rarely cheer an automatic gearbox and Mazda’s is an excellent one.

A lot of bang for your buck.

If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you, Mazda throws in an equally interesting energy recuperation system it calls i-ELOOP. What i-ELOOP does is to recover lost energy when braking using ultracapacitors to redeliver electricity back into the car grid, helping power lighting, stereo, etc. All of this comes in at the starting price of $21,675, which means you are getting serious engineering at an affordable price. The Mazda6 Skyactiv tops out at $30,490.

Overall, we found the new Mazda6 Skyactiv to be a wonderful drive, comfortable and very pleasing to the eye, both exterior and interior.  This is the ideal car for those of you still on the fence about hybrid and electric motor technology. Mazda achieves many high points.  The design is clean and elegant, the interior feels closer to a BMW, Lexus or Audi, but without the sticker price shock. The seats and feel inside is that of a modern look but not cold, and again very elegant.  Handling wise, we would have liked a slightly stiffer ride with more road condition communication, but it would be hard to fault it.

We can think of two high notes Mazda achieves here.  This is the kind of car you won’t be embarrassed driving important people around that won’t brutalize your gasoline budget.  This is the kind of car we would actually own.  A high praise from automotive journalists.  To think Mazda is continuing to squeeze more performance out of an internal combustion engine (ICE) makes us look forward to more from Mazda.

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Born and raised around classic cars, it wasn't until Nicolas drove an AC Proulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news about those amazing full torque electric vehicles, he started writing about this amazing technology and its social impacts in 2007. Today, Nicolas covers renewable energy, test drives cars, does podcasts and films. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he made in those industries. His articles are also published on Teslrati, CleanTechnica, the Beverly Hills Car Club and Medium. "There are more solutions than obstacles." Nicolas Zart

6 thoughts on “2014 Mazda6 Video Review, Skyactiv Brings Efficiency and Sedan Sexiness”

  1. Most modern gasoline cars get about 5% global efficiency mixed mode and probably ~10% steady 55MPH speed on high ways .If they can double the figures to 20% global efficiency they more or less match the present day Hybrids . The fuel content of gasoline is very high .Lead acid battery store 1/100 the energy that the same weight of gasoline has with lithium about 1/30th. There is lots more life left in IC gasoline engines if they chose to keep in the race .The new Nissan 400BHP 1500cc 3 cylinder engine with low weight of 40Kg or 10BHP per kilo shows this .They stripped out much of the friction working with oil companies to achieve this . A combination of the Nissan motor and the Mazda motor and the high energy density of gasoline and electric can yet again eat the IC engines fumes .The electric engine still needs to get it fuel from a oil, coal ,natural gas, or uranium. Yes the race is on but the death notice of the IC engine have been greatly exaggerated.

    1. Yes, global efficiency at 55 MPH is good, but it’s the starting and stopping that brings everything down again. A hybrid design is best, since the electric motor gets the car going when it is most efficient, and the ICE the least.

      The potential energy in gasoline is high, but a lot of it is wasted in heat and friction, roughly up to two thirds, less now with modern cars.

      The Nissan small engine is great for racing, but it won’t cut it for everyday driving, wear and tear and the biggest problem is heat dissipation for such a small engine.

      Oil copanies are not stupid and understand the problem today. We haven’t seen any gasoline price hike in over six months, and pick up trucks are making a strong come back. They pretty much all invest in alternative energy.

      I’m not sure why you think an electric motor gets its energy only from from the dirty sources you mention. Nuclear is a different story and many already use some sort of home alternative energy. I’m preapring a more in depth article on the atest numbers. The latest figures from NASA show that electric vehicles pollute far less than we previously believe. Charging at night is key since most of that energy sits idle most of the time at night.

      Lastley, I don’t think the ICE technology is dead yet, but the question was how far can it still be pushed. Mazda is working onpushing that even more in there next Skyactiv technologies. The projected figures are closer to a Prius Hybrid.

      The one thing the electric motor did was to shock, pun intended the ICE technology to pick up its sagging pace over the past decades. Remember, pretty much all domestic carmakers were suing states trying to impose bette gas mileage only 7 years ago. Today’s landscape is very different, and I believe thanks to the challenge of the electric drivetrain.

      In the end, I could easily own a Mazda6 Skyactiv, which is high praise from us test drivers. But push comes to shove, I would favor a tesla Roadster or a Model S. Once you drive a high quality EV, it’s hard to go back to an ICE car. The feeling of calm, quietness knowing you have full torque at any speed is something only a good race car or motorcycle can provide you. I still see the writing on the wall. I’ll grant you that the electric motor isn’t the solution. At some point we will need some sort of exotic system, maybe matter-anti matter, but I think at that stage we will probably Star Trek like “beam me up Scotty” systems 🙂

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