The Mazda3 was conceived under the Jinba Ittai driver-and–car-as-one ethos that defines all Mazda products. The fine balance of performance and fuel economy offered by Mazda’s SKYACTIV engine and chassis technology ensures class-leading dynamics, superb refinement and an engaging driving experience across the whole hatchback and Fastback range.
With weights starting at 1,345kg, the Mazda3 is one of the lightest members of the C-segment, its steering, suspension, brakes and aerodynamics have been designed and developed under Mazda’s ‘gram strategy’ to deliver an excellent combination of agility, ride comfort, low weight, economy and refinement.
Its lightweight and ultra-stiff SKYACITIV chassis features more than 60 per cent high-tensile and ultra -high-tensile steel, while the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension layout majors on low weight componentry and exceptionally stiff construction. A series of updates to the suspension of the Mazda3 has further refined the set-up of one the segment’s dynamic benchmarks.
Internal changes within the front dampers have focused on achieving smooth and stable damping at the extremely low piston speed range where it is difficult to generate damping force using the valve alone. To combat this, high-friction oil has been adopted to enhance the performance of the front dampers and iron out minute vibrations that upset refinement. In addition, the valve structure inside the damper has been revised to increase the damping force at low piston speeds, while decreasing the damping force at high piston speeds, thereby reducing jolt sensation in all speed ranges.
The rear damper structure has also been modified with the adoption a friction control seal and a bottom valve, which enhance the damping response, reduce minute vibrations and improve stability during high-speed driving.
In addition to improvements in the ride quality, changes to front-anti-roll bar have been implemented to improve handling and stability. Softer front anti-roll bar mountings allow the bushes to deform slightly more during the initial stage of turn-in, allowing for a more linear movement of the front suspension.
When the load increases during the turn and the deformation of the bushings comes to an end, vehicle roll is regulated by the anti-roll bar, ensuring a more stable vehicle posture is achieved.
The Mazda3 marks the debut of G-Vectoring Control (GVC), the first system from Mazda’s new SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS range of technology. 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 wheels.
This ingenious and largely imperceptible system improves driver confidence, passenger comfort and vehicle handling via incredibly subtle manipulation of the powertrain. By monitoring steering and throttle position when you enter 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 which allows the front wheels to turn more precisely. The indiscernible nature of GVC means the driver subconsciously reduces any unnecessary steering and throttle movements through the corner. Equally, the smooth way that GVC complements driver inputs, ensures that expert drivers who balance the throttle and maintain smooth steering, won’t have their precision corrupted by an overly intrusive intervention system.
Even on a straight road, GVC can reduce driver fatigue and increase passenger comfort by cleverly taking away the need for the 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 compliment the mechanical grip of the Mazda3, GVC boosts what is already regarded as one of the best handling cars in the class, and unlike stability control which only begins to effect dynamic handling at the limit of tyre grip, GVC is a constant largely unfelt companion that is always helping 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, comfort and refinement also sit at the core of the Mazda3’s appeal and to this end the Mazda3 features a host of updates across the whole range. Overall refinement has been substantially improved with added noise suppression material in the roof, doors, dashboard and transmission tunnel. Optimised door seals and additional vibration damping materials between the rear crossmembers further improve cabin comfort.
Complimented by its range of SKYACTIV engines and transmissions, the Mazda3 is sharper to drive, more comfortable and more refined than ever, ensuring it continues to set a dynamic benchmark in the sector.