2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Setting Fuel Economy Records in August
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on September 19, 2016
Our long-term 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata set a couple of new high-water marks during August, breaking the records for both range and single-tank fuel economy.
How, you ask? Terrific question. Turns out, it wasn't very difficult.
In August, the Miata traveled a shade more than 2,000 miles. It notched a 347.1-mile range on one tank, and on the next tank it achieved 41.6 mpg. This latter result wasn't over a full tank; rather, it was refueled after driving 160 miles, or about a half-tank.
Still, it's a strong performance that contributed to the Miata's average of 31.9 mpg for the entire month, comfortably eclipsing the window sticker's combined rating of 30 mpg.
This is just another example of Mazda's "SkyActiv" fuel-efficiency philosophy delivering results in the real-world. A sports car is the last kind of vehicle you'd expect to be outperforming its window sticker. Yet our long-term Miata does it with ease. To wit, the two tanks described above were part of a trip by an editor who wasn't even trying to drive in a fuel-sipping fashion. In other words, that wasn't hypermiling, and the numbers could have been even better.
The SkyActiv engine strategy focuses on facilitating a high compression ratio in order to wring out every bit of efficiency. The Miata clocks in at 13:1 compression (it's 14:1 for the Euro-spec car). But the secret sauce is all the engine-nerd sweating that keeps that sky-high compression from pinging the engine to death. There's no one thing that is responsible, and that's why SkyActiv seems like such a nebulous concept.
But if you want a mental touchstone for the engine side of SkyActiv, just think "SkyActiv equals high compression...plus the countless details that went into making it actually pay off."
Worst Fill MPG: 22.2
Best Fill MPG: 41.6
Average Lifetime MPG: 30.1
EPA MPG Rating: 30 Combined (27 City/34 Highway)
Best Range: 347.1 miles
(NOTE: Cars are sometimes refueled well before their fuel tanks approach empty. As such, the "best" and "worst" entries above are not necessarily the result of an entire tank's worth of driving.)
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 13,656 miles