Alongside the facelifted Mazda 3, Mazda has also revealed its new range of vehicle motion control technologies, grouped under the SkyActiv-Vehicle Dynamics umbrella.
These features are designed to enhance the driver’s sense of connectedness with the car, a concept Hiroshima has famously dubbed Jinba Ittai – Japanese for horse and rider as one. To achieve this, the technologies provide integrated control of the SkyActiv engine, transmission, chassis and body to deliver a more direct and natural feel for the driver.
The first of these technologies is G-Vectoring Control, which will be offered on the facelifted Mazda 3. Despite the fancy name, there are no extra differentials or advanced computer wizardry that allow the car to bend the laws of physics. Instead, the workings behind the system is very simple – it varies engine torque in response to steering inputs, subtly controlling lateral and longitudinal acceleration forces.
Essentially it’s a form of traction control, but whereas a regular TC system cuts power when it senses a loss of grip, GVC modulates the throttle – even adding power if it’s necessary – to optimise vertical load on each wheel, resulting in smoother and more efficient vehicle motion.
Here’s how it works – as the driver approaches the corner and begins to turn the steering wheel, GVC cuts engine torque. The resulting deceleration shifts the cars weight onto the front wheels and increases front-end grip, enhancing vehicle responsiveness. This prevents drivers from having to create unnecessary steering corrections to account for initial turn-in sluggishness, which causes a jerky see-sawing motion.
Once the driver settles into the corner and maintains a constant steering angle, the car automatically restores engine torque to push the weight back onto the rear wheels, improving vehicle stability. The result is that the car feels more predictable in and out of a corner, and steering inputs become smoother.
The real trick of the G-Vectoring Control, says Mazda, is that the system reacts so quickly and precisely that a driver will usually not notice its effect – the deceleration is usually at or below 0.01 G. This allows the system to enhance the car’s natural driving feel, as its responses are in line with human sensibilities.
The system even enhances straight-line stability. We tend not to notice it, but we make small adjustments to the steering wheel even when going straight, and over time this can lead to fatigue.
Since GVC enhances the effect of tiny steering inputs, it greatly reduces the size of steering corrections, and the smoothening of G-force transitions also reduces the head and body sway of the occupants – so everyone in the car can enjoy a more comfortable drive.
Mazda adds that because the system enhances handling and stability through the optimisation of the tyres’ vertical load, it is even more effective in rainy or snowy conditions, as well as poor road surfaces, as well as helping to stabilise the vehicle during evasive manoeuvres. The system offers an improved feel of the tyres gripping the road in any driving situation, providing a greater sense of security.
The best part is that because G-Vectoring Control is only a software control system, there are no additional hardware components needed, and can be deployed in any Mazda SkyActiv model. The only thing it requires is a SkyActiv engine, which enables precise control of drive torque, and the SkyActiv-Chassis that facilitates ideal vehicle behaviour.
GALLERY: Mazda 3 facelift