Mazda’s updated Kiyora Concept, and the company’s line of SKY technologies, could reinvent how drivers see the brand, without losing the “Zoom-Zoom” marketing tagline. Set to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in late October, the Kiyora represents a lot of different efficiency technologies coming together to make one fun car. Plus, the futuristic styling makes the Kiyora quite the looker.
The Kiyora and the SKY technologies that make it up are part of Mazda’s “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom” effort, where they plan to increase their brand’s overall fuel economy by 30% by 2015, compared to 2008 levels. This is a tall order because, while Mazda has yet to embrace hybrids, their engines are already pretty efficient when compared to the market as a whole. The main technologies used on the Kiyora are the SKY Drive transmission and the SKY-G direct injected gasoline engine.
A car’s transmission can be the cause for a lot of power loss and wasteful energy consumption. Transferring the engine’s output energy to wheel-drive energy is a complex process, requiring that the transmission has hundreds of parts inside of it. That, of course, means hundreds of things could go wrong. For the SKY Drive, which will be in a six-speed variant on the Kiyora, Mazda redesigned the transmission from the ground up to wring every ounce of efficiency they could out of it. The result is a 5% increase in fuel economy, which may seem small, but is actually quite impressive for a transmission. The idea behind the SKY Drive is to reduce friction as much as possible, install a more efficient torque converter and clutch, and to speed up that clutch’s shift time. The result is an efficient but responsive transmission that won’t disappoint.
Mated to this transmission is the SKY-G direct-injected engine. Preliminary word from Mazda is that the Kiyora will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show with a 1.3-liter gasoline engine that promises 75 mpg. This is sure to please the eco-friendly set, but the real excitement is to be found in the 2.0-liter SKY-G engines that will hit the market soon. The SKY-G is a study in heat efficiency. Normal engines run very hot, which is essentially wasted energy escaping the engine. The SKY-G does its best to improve heat efficiency and to optimize the fuel-air mixture that reaches the combustion chamber, resulting in a 15% efficiency increase over Mazda’s other 2.0-liter engines. This efficiency, however, has virtually no cost in performance. While Mazda hasn’t released specific output numbers, opting to wait until the Tokyo show, performance is expected to be about 150 horsepower and 135 lb-ft of torque, which is nearly identical to the current Mazda 3. There will also be a diesel variant of the engine called the SKY-D.
While the SKY technologies are the big story for the Kiyora Concept, it also features a bevy of other tech that Mazda has been working on for a few years. First is the iStop, which is an auto engine cutoff when stopped to save fuel. Next is regenerative braking, which uses the kinetic energy from braking the car in order to create electricity to charge the battery and run accessories. And, of course, the body of the Kiyora is designed to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible in order to minimize drag, and thereby increase fuel economy.
All told, the Kiyora is one of those tantalizing concept cars that manages to pack so many new technologies that it really is like looking into the future. Other concept cars usually have just one or two new features, but the SKY technologies, and those mentioned in the previous paragraph, really do make the Kiyora an accurate view of what cars will be like a decade from now. There will be no single magic formula for making a car both fun and efficient, but rather a combination of many different systems. And that’s what the Kiyora does best.