Techno curve

Mazda says this simple idea will increase driver engagement and make cornering even sweeter

NATHAN PONCHARD

MAZDA engineers in Japan and the US have spent eight years studying the human subconscious in pursuit of enhancing the relationship between a car and its driver.

While that may sound more like a weird automotive eHarmony phrase, it’s actually an evolution of Mazda’s much-hyped Jinba Ittai philosophy (‘horse and rider as one’), says Mazda North America chassis engineer Dave Coleman.

G-Vectoring Control is the result of that study, and it’ll be on production Mazdas within months.

This patented, purely softwaredriven system automates the techniques that expert drivers use to subtly transfer some weight onto a car’s nose, thereby sweetening turn-in, tightening e onths. ares eby g lines, improving steering connection and enhancing the “co-ordination of motion”.

According to Mazda, if you can reduce the level of guesswork between driver and vehicle when guiding it around the straightahead position, through the first quarter-turn or so of lock, and then into a corner, particularly with a constant throttle position, inputs become smoother, there’s less ‘sawing’ at the wheel and progress is more serene.

As Coleman points out: “If you make a car really direct, really intuitive, really linear, it’s better for everybody in the car”.

Mazda says that first diagonalroll moment as the driver applies steering lock is the most crucial in successfully unifying driver and

Balanced jerks

Mazda closely studied two aspects of the human subconscious: Minimum Jerk Theory and Equilibrioception.

Minimum Jerk Theory is the most efficient way to move something smoothly, without jolting, over the shortest possible distance.

Equilibrioception involves the process of balancing our heads upright, as if we have an internal G sensor.

Mazda engineers benchmarked the supreme linearity of Porsche’s naturally aspirated 997-series 911 when studying fluidity of movement, but they also filmed and collected data from steering inputs and cornering lines, both with and without GVC operating.

To witness GVC’s effect on steering input and cornering line, go to WheelsMag.com.au/MazdaGVC

machine dynamically. G-Vectoring Control is intended to smoothly co-ordinate that transition.

By retarding the ignition slightly to decrease engine torque enough to transfer weight onto the front end of the car – a seemingly insignificant 5kg – the electronics replicate what a good driver would do when lifting or feathering the throttle, or by left-foot braking (while still on the throttle) when entering a corner.

Mazda says work began eight years ago, with a domestic-market Demio EV chosen due to the instant response of its electric motor. Mazda’s then-current MZR engine family lacked the response time to be able to work with GVC, as all this happens in just 50 milliseconds – faster than the human body can detect.

The reason it has taken until now for G-Vectoring Control to surface is that it needed an engine responsive and linear enough, as well as an ECU with sufficient processing power, to enable such quick adjustments.

GVC is a simple solution to a highly complex study of the connection between man and machine. We’ve driven it (see p40) and it will roll out across Mazda’s entire line-up beginning next month with the current 3’s mid-life update.

If you remember how Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) transformed Holden’s line-up in the late-’70s, there’s a chance GVC will achieve an element of that for Mazda’s passenger-car range.

GVC brings an effective, if subtle, improvement to fluidity of movement and turn-in alacrity.

This new technology will debut in unison with refreshed suspension tunes intended to more fully realise the dynamic potential of Mazda’s lightweight, modular SkyActiv platform.