Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) announced fuel economy figures for and updated pricing of its new 2014 Mazda6 midsize sedan, featuring the i-ELOOP regenerative engine braking system. (Earlier post.) The i-ELOOP equipped Mazda6 is EPA-rated at 28 city/40 highway/32 combined mpg US (8.4, 5.9 and 7.4 l/100km, respectively).
Fuel efficiency when paired with the manual transmission for non-i-ELOOP cars is rated by the EPA at 25 city/37 highway/29 combined mpg (9.4, 6.4 and 8.1 l/100 km) and increases to 26 city/38 highway/30 combined mpg (9.0, 6.2 and 7.8 l/100 km) with the automatic.
i-ELOOP (Intelligent Energy Loop) is an ultracapacitor-based regenerative engine braking system that converts a vehicle's kinetic energy into electricity as the car decelerates. The electricity captured is then stored for later use to power all the vehicle's electrical components, such as headlights, climate control and audio systems. This reduces the need for the engine to burn extra fuel in order to generate electricity and, therefore, improves fuel economy without sacrificing driving performance. In order to efficiently recapture the kinetic energy and convert it into electricity, i-ELOOP utilizes a 12- to 25-volt variable voltage alternator, a DC/DC converter and a low-resistance, high-capacity electric double layer capacitor (EDLC).
With the i-ELOOP system in operation, the alternator is free-wheeling, creating almost no parasitic drag on the engine, which reduces the amount of fuel used. Upon vehicle deceleration, the engine and alternator continue to spin as the vehicle slows down, working off of the vehicle’s inertia. To take advantage of this free energy, i-ELOOP’s special variable-voltage alternator kicks in and generates short bursts of electricity that is stored within the capacitor. The capacitor then meters power out into a smooth, continuous flow to satisfy energy loads.
While the increased engine braking caused by the alternator is too small for drivers to feel, the smooth power delivery coming from the capacitor means the electrical systems do not operate differently with i-ELOOP. Exact fuel savings will vary based on electrical load and individual driving habits.
On sale now, the 2014 Mazda6 starts at $20,990 MSRP and is available in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Featuring a SKYACTIV-G 2.5-liter gasoline engine as standard equipment, Mazda6 vehicles offer 184 hp (137 kW) at 5,700 rpm and 185 lb-ft (251 N·m) of torque at 3,250 rpm. Sport ($22,695 MSRP) and Touring ($23,645 MSRP) models are available with either a SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission or SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission.
A mid-year add-on, the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission is now available on the Touring trim. The SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission adds $1,050 to $24,695 MSRP, but equipment and features remain the same for all Touring models.
Available on Grand Touring models ($29,695 MSRP), i-ELOOP will be part of the new GT Technology Package ($2,080 MSRP) which features additional vehicle equipment such as a Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), High Beam Control (HBC), Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) and Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), a Sport mode button and active grille shutters. The stand-alone MRCC/FOW Package, which includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) and Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), is still available for Grand Touring models but will be phased out in the coming months.