This November, at the L.A. Auto Show, Mazda introduced a new design for 2019 Mazda 3. It will be available in 2 variants, a sedan, and a hatchback. But that’s not what all the talk is about. Mazda has also introduced a new engine namely the SKYACTIV-X. This engine is a unique mix of diesel and gasoline engine technology, making something new and innovative.
Back in May of 2018, Mazda explained how their engine works. The weird part about the engine is that it produces knocking. Usually when you hear knocking sounds from your engine, its bad news. Such cars end up at a mechanic’s workshop making a hefty bill for you. However, knocking in this engine means everything is excellent. One of the Mazda’s powertrain engineers, Jay Chen, said, “SKYACTIV-X thrives on knocking.” Knocking happens when the air-fuel mixture combusts at the wrong time. This usually happens due to a malfunction in the spark plug. It sounds like someone is knocking at the metal with knuckles, thus the name. Mazda has reduced the sound of knocking to a minimal and redesigned the engine to use this pressure-induced ignition for better purposes without damaging the engine.
What Mazda has done is commonly referred to as combustion ignition, and this sparkles ignition system is the backbone of Mazda’s new engine. Diesel engine cars run on this mechanism. A highly compressed hot air is injected inside the engine along with a spray of diesel fuel. This causes combustion in the fuel chamber that throws the cylinder to a maximum point. In contrast to spark-plug engines, this type of engine has more efficiency and takes the cylinder to the full cycle of motion. Even though the diesel engines are more efficient, but they still struggle to produce a high RPM range. This is because diesel takes much longer to ignite in comparison to gasoline. SKYACTIV-X combines the efficiency and low RPM grunt of the diesel engine and the highly responsive RPM of gasoline engine making a Diesel-Gas Hybrid engine.
Chen said, “It welcomes knock because knock is the result of an ultra-lean fuel ratio. The goal with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) is to eliminate what you hear and experience as knock.” This type of ignition is the sub-type of Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition. It is highly notable that this engine has spark plugs. Engineers have been trying to get rid of the spark plugs in gas engines to capture the efficiency of diesel engines but have failed so far. The SPCCI uses spark plugs as an on-and-off mechanism to work in a wide range of conditions.
This is the smartest ignition system ever created by Mazda, and it takes full advantage of improved processors controlling the fuel ignition and spark plugs. The SKYACTIV-X can switch between SPCCI mode for a conventional everyday drive and a spark-ignition for a much rarer situation like a cold-start or a high-RPM run. The ignition system is not all this engine has to offer. It has an original supercharger as well. Instead of packing an extra air into the combustion chamber, it regulates an adequate amount of air for the best performance. This engine also has the i-ELOOP braking regeneration system. This system lightens up a load of the engine by powering up headlights, air conditioning, and radio from brakes. A variable-voltage alternator captures the energy from brakes and stores it in capacitors for later use.
Pretty innovative, Isn’t it?