The matte-patterned matte-patterned prototype car features a 3-day Mazda body, but under this surface Mazda believes the future of gasoline propulsion. Hatchback MazdaActiv-X run MazdaActiv-X's pocket, which then became the first compression drive motor production. They are not, however, just for the show: Mazda is quite confident in its ongoing development technology to let us drive cars on public roads.
SkyActiv-X (pronounced "ex" not "ten") is the powertrain side of the next iteration of Mazda's continued push to cut the average rating of corporate emissions while improving fuel economy. Today's engine families are called SkyActiv-G and SkyActiv-D, for gasoline and diesel. Compared SkyActiv-G, X is intended to improve fuel efficiency by 20-30 percent while increasing torque 10-20 percent, compared to the current 2.0-liter engine.
What might the numbers turn out to be? The Mazda 2.0 2.0 liter auto hatchback today, yielding 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque, and returns the EPA figure of 28 miles per gallon and 37 mpg highway. So extrapolated, a version with the SkyActiv-X engine can boast something like 180 lb-ft and 36/48 mpg. It's just an educated guess, of course; The exact numbers will not be confirmed for some time.
The secret to this new performance is the ignition of gasoline compression, which takes advantage of the many benefits that diesel engines enjoy over the years. A normal gasoline engine burns a mixture of fuel and air, which extends throughout the cylinder and forces the piston down. But by pressing a very slender mix of air and gasoline to explode spontaneously, like on diesels, Mazda engineers say that the SkyActiv-X engine can generate more torque, reduce less heat, and use less fuel overall. Many car makers have explored the idea, but nothing has been able to make it ready for the production model - until now.
Basically, more power is generated in a shorter period of time at any time, because the compression ignition is much louder than just lighting the air fuel mixture. Mazda research and development engineer Jay Chen likened it to produce an inflated balloon instead of letting air out through the neck.
The prototype machine is inline-2.0 inline-four with supercharger, cooled exhaust gas recirculation, and electrically controlled timing valve variable. It has a compression ratio of 16.0: 1, which is sky high in terms of a gasoline road car, and a high-pressure direct injection system. Cons of most cars direct injection gasoline injectors, fuel injectors are in the center of the cylinder head and spark plugs off to the side.
Most of the time, the engine runs in what Mazda calls the Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) mode. A very slim mixture (ie, there is a high proportion of air to gasoline) is ingested in compression pressure, swirling thanks to a special piston design; Supercharger is used to add extra air if needed to attenuate the mixture. Then just as the piston reaches the top of the top, with the mixture almost ready to light up on its own, spray the engine in a small amount of other fuel and ignite it with spark plugs. The explosion pushed the air-fuel mixture that remained above the edge into an explosion, producing much power very quickly.
That's Mazda's innovation: using spark plugs to start ignition compression. Otherwise, the engineer says, it is very difficult to get an explosion to happen right at the right time. To keep an eye on the whole process, the pressure sensors in each cylinder give feedback to the machine's computer: "New now our machine's control processor is fast enough to control this event by event per event," Chen said.
At other times, however, the Mazda engine runs like a regular spark-ignition machine. It switches to this mode especially on high-load, high-RPM running; For performance, in other words, the compression ignition still will not do the job. But since machines always use spark plugs all the time, engineers say machines can "seamlessly" alternate between two running modes.
Mazda believes in the machine underlined by the fact that we can drive prototypes on public roads on normal highways - city streets, highways, and everything in between - and with six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions According to preliminary prototypes, -the car has lost some interior parts (no radio, no center console, etc.) and has many warning lights on display, plus an iPad that indicates whether the engine is on in compression or spark.
But what is most impressive from the driver's seat is that the 2.0-liter feels ... normal. Responsive and quiet, reversible, with powerful low-end strength and a very direct torque-feeling curve on the rise. In most situations, there is no real reward that something is different.
The cars must be noticeably faster, especially at low engine speeds, from the current 2.0-liter Mazda 3. At idle, there is no unusual vibration or vibration as you might expect in some direct injection cars or diesel engines. And under acceleration, most engines sound like the other 2.0-liter Mazda.
However, unfinished machines will knock - a tapping or crackling sound caused by pre-ignition - quite easily. The stick-shift car does it almost every time you lift the throttle; It's difficult for a machine to make a clean transition from on-off-throttle running, explains an engineer. Both machines will also do it occasionally under rapid acceleration, or when tense, like going uphill. An engineer, riding a gun, winced as the car sounded knocking as I pulled away from the stop sign.
Then again, these cars are still in the testing phase, and Mazda promises these issues will be ironed at the start of production. Remember that an unwanted machine tap is essentially a compression ignition that occurs; Dave Coleman, engineering manager of Mazda vehicle dynamics, says that more software will help prevent the situation. The problem is the machine has many control strategies, and the company's engineers can still learn to combine everything well.
"It's tuned," he said. "We are dealing with large multivariable equations."
The prototype car also has several other upgrades that will be part of the next generation of SkyActiv vehicles. For example, the front suspension bushing is redesigned so as not to let the front wheels move back and forth as much as when bumping, which purportedly makes travel more comfortable by reducing throwing throws. "Our balance can react better," Coleman said.
The seats have been completely redesigned to more naturally hold the driver's spine, reducing driver fatigue. The entire chassis has been stretched strategically, with a special dampening section added to ward off further vibrations.
Frankly, it's hard to see how much this change impacts our test drives. SkyActiv-X testers mostly feel like the Mazda 3 hatchback I drive early in the day: sweet in all their ultimate control, with a strong ride, and a very natural propulsion action. In other words, continue the dynamics and feel of the upscale Mazdas today.
Interestingly, Mazda still uses a six-speed automatic transmission when its rival adopts 8, 9, or 10-speed units, or continuously variable transmission. Because SPCCI is very efficient in low-load scenarios, Coleman says that running a high-speed engine does not really harm the fuel economy. Actually, he believes the fun-to-drive character of Mazda is better served by keeping cruising higher so the car can be more responsive to the throttle input without the need for frequent downshifts.
"We are trying to build around some gears to keep it more noticeable," he said.
However, the new SkyActiv-X engine is not without its downsides. For starters, the explosive nature of compression ignition, coupled with a high-pressure fuel system, creates a lot of noise.
The NVH [noise, vibration, and hardness] is very challenging, "Coleman said." We have to install the engine, "with a special foam around the engine bay, plus a large plastic cover that covers the oily bits as you open the hood.He said Mazda drew inspiration from the way European luxury producers keep their diesel engines calm.
The explosion also puts more pressure on the engine's internal components, so they have to be upgraded, almost in line with Mazda's diesel engine power. As a result, no one part is shared with SkyActiv-G 2.0-liter today.
"Many things look like they are in the middle between gas and diesel engines," Coleman said.
The engine is also more expensive to build - although cheaper than hybrids, engineers note - and heavier than SkyActiv-G, though still lighter than equivalent diesel engines. The above mentioned chassis base adds weight too; Mazda has traditionally sought to cut the mob wherever possible from its car.
"We are still focusing on weight, but with a practical focus," Coleman said.
The SkyActiv-X engine is also built with a lightweight hybrid system, similar to that offered on cars like the Audi A8, Ram 1500, and Jeep Wrangler. Coleman has little details about this system, other than to say that this is meant to help stop-start the machine situation. It was disabled on our prototype car. But this is an important technology for future Mazda models: "All SkyActiv engines will feature lightweight hybrid technology," Chen said.
Of course, Mazda's reinvestment comes as most carmakers start announcing a grandiose plan to suck up all their vehicles in the coming years. Mazda will also do that - the company's timeline shows electric car batteries by 2020 and plug-in hybrids by 2021 - but the company believes there is still something to be gained from the development of internal combustion engines for electric vehicles. The idea is that if Mazda still has to equip a hybrid or plug-in hybrid car with a gasoline engine, perhaps the most efficient gas engine is possible. So SkyActiv-X is the building block toward future hybrid models.
Mazda will not be interested in which vehicle will introduce the SkyActiv-X engine or chassis, although it is certain that the powertrain will only be launched in all-new cars with chassis upgrades, not just existing models. "I do not think we have a chance to put it [machine] in the sixth generation car," Coleman said. Mazda refers to the chassis and the new engine as the seventh generation technology.
The Company will ensure that the new car reaches the U.S. by the end of 2019. For now, all signs indicate the model with Mazda next-gen 3; a prognostikator might suspect that Kai's recent concept is a pointer in that direction.
We have to wait a while to see how well the new Mazda engine can fulfill its promise to increase power and efficiency by a considerable amount. Based on the prototype driving, this technology sounds and - especially after a year or so of refinement - works in the real world. Mazda has solved complicated engineering problems because it delivers real world real results, not only because this is a headline-grabbing one. Opponents noted: there is still life left in the internal combustion engine.
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