On its launch in 2012, the original CX-5 set new dynamic standards, changing perceptions of how engaging a compact SUV could be. With its excellent body control, accurate steering and sharp handling the CX-5 was praised by media and customers alike.
Taking this strong base as the starting point, and with a chassis that has more than 50 per cent new components, the development of the second-generation Mazda CX-5 saw Mazda’s engineers work to deliver an SUV that takes the Jinba Ittai car-and-driver-as-one design and engineering philosophy to the next level.
The responsiveness and controllability of the CX-5’s Skyactiv-Body and Skyactiv-Chassis ensure a feeling of complete command over the vehicle; all its movements are matching to the driver’s acceleration, steering and braking inputs as precisely as possible. Complemented by the introduction of G-Vectoring Control (GVC), the Mazda CX-5 is more comfortable, refined and responsive than ever.
Underpinning this dynamic ability the CX-5’s Skyactiv-Body achieves high levels of performance in three key areas: collision safety, light body weight and rigidity. To strengthen the joints between the suspension components and bodyshell, 2mm thick apron gussets are adopted where the front suspension connects to the hinge pillars. The left- and right-hand side sill reinforcements adopt a closed cross-section, strengthening at the base of the A pillars is optimised and high-rigidity blown material is added to the cross-member brackets that join the rear of the side sills to both sides of the body.
The overall result of these measures is an increase in bodyshell torsional rigidity of 15 per cent over that of the first-generation model - this reduces the body’s response delay to steering inputs. Increasing the amount of ultra-high-tensile steel used by approximately 3 per cent over the first-generation model helps realise significant gains in body strength. The A pillars feature 1,180 MPa ultra-high-tensile steel. The side sills and B pillars use 980 MPa ultra-high-tensile steel, enhancing safety performance and minimising weight increase. The use of hot-stamped 1,800 MPa steel -the world’s strongest- for the front and rear bumper reinforcements is a further safety feature.
Building on the rigidity of the CX-5’s shell, the steering, suspension and brake systems have all been refined to enhance handling stability. To improve the response of the electric power steering system to driver inputs, the CX-5 adopts rigid couplings to provide a more direct connection between the steering system mountings and suspension cross-members.
Featuring proven MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems, numerous fine-tuning measures have been implemented to further refine the Mazda CX-5’s chassis. The diameter of the front damper pistons has been increased to provide a more linear response and smoother vehicle behaviour when quickly turning the steering wheel. Optimising the damping characteristics and introducing more moderate behaviour above the springs also delivers smoother roll characteristics when entering corners, and a more stable posture during cornering. In addition, the front lower suspension arms now feature liquid-filled bushings, which increase the damping of minute vibrations.
Complementing this mechanical set-up is G-Vectoring Control (GVC): the first system from Mazda’s Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics range of technologies. Utilising integrated control of the engine, transmission and chassis to enhance the connection between car and driver, GVC varies engine torque to optimise the load on the front axle. By monitoring steering and throttle position when entering a corner under power, GVC momentarily reduces the amount of torque delivered to the front wheels, thereby transferring a fraction more weight onto the front axle. This increases front tyre grip, which allows the front wheels to turn more precisely.
Thereafter, when the driver maintains a constant steering angle, GVC immediately recovers engine drive torque, which transfers load to the rear wheels, enhancing vehicle stability. This series of load transfers extracts much more grip from both front and rear tyres, improving vehicle responsiveness and stability according to the driver’s intentions. The CX-5 features the latest GVC Plus system, which offers even better yaw control at speed.
The indiscernible nature of GVC means that the driver subconsciously reduces any unnecessary steering and throttle movements through the corner. Even on a straight road, GVC can reduce driver fatigue and increase passenger comfort by removing the perceived need for the countless tiny corrections that some drivers make when driving straight. In doing this, GVC lowers driver effort and reduces the amount of head and body sway small steering corrections can create for passengers. Working to complement the mechanical grip of the CX-5, GVC is an unfelt companion that constantly helps the driver feel at one with the car – something that is at the very heart of Mazda’s Jinba Ittai driver-and–car-as-one ethos.
However, it isn’t just dynamic improvements that mark out the Mazda CX-5, refinement enhancements and the reduction of road noise were also key targets of the development team. To that end, a particular focus has been paid to the reduction of low frequency road noise, and high frequency wind and tyre noise when driving at speed.
Vibrations from the tyres, suspension and body were painstakingly suppressed to reduce unpleasant road noise stemming from rough surfaces. To minimise the transmission of vibration through the suspension, measures implement to finely control resonance and reduce input force include the adoption of hollow stabilisers and dynamic dampers to the front struts. Efforts to minimise energy from vibrating body panels radiating into the cabin focused primarily on using CAE analysis to optimise the shape of beading and other parts to reduce vibration.
Thorough measures have been taken to block the paths by which high frequency tyre noise might intrude into the cabin. Sealant has been applied to close the gaps between the body panels below the B pillars. For the lower part of the body panels below the side sills, where the application of sealant is difficult, gaps have been minimised to prevent noise intrusion. Further measures extend to the interior, including the minimisation of the gap between the load space compartment side trim and floorboard.
Measures to reduce wind noise began with the aerodynamic styling of the body itself, which is designed to suppress air turbulence. The windscreen wiper stowage position is located below the surface extension of the bonnet, and both door mirrors and A-pillars are aerodynamically shaped to reduce wind noise. Door and garnish gaps have also been minimised, and both the doors and tailgate benefit from parting sealant.
Sharper and better to drive than ever, with greatly improved refinement, the Mazda CX-5 retains its reputation as one of the most enjoyable driver’s cars you’ll find in the SUV segment.