With today’s hustle and bustle of the world, and our fixation on features and technology, some of us forget about the passion and love affair we once had with the automobile. Value has become a race to have the most features, whether you will actually ever use them or need them doesn’t seem to matter.
For many, a car has become a true appliance, getting from A to B is the goal – without interrupting the ability to keep in touch with Facebook and Twitter (yes, some cars actually allow you to browse Facebook within the infotainment system – though only while stopped).
In the pursuit of market share, most car manufacturers are playing the game as well. They are offering to consumers what consumers want – heated and cooled seats, blind spot detection, back-up cameras and the ability to respond to text messages with pre-programmed responses while driving.
But deep inside a small car company the passion still exists. The engineers at Mazda have been pushing, from the inside out, the need to keep that passion alive in the automobile by delivering the best driving experience they can without compromise.
Mazda calls this jinba ittai, the pursuit of a feeling of unity between driver and vehicle. The theory that the more a vehicle feels like an extension of the human body, the more enjoyable the experience of driving that vehicle is – makes sense, at least to me.
Mazda already makes some of the most fun-to-drive vehicles on the road; the Mazda MX-5 is a prime example of simplicity, fun and passion. But it doesn’t end with the little sports car as many of their vehicles offer superior driving dynamics to any other vehicles in their class, like the Mazda6 and Mazda3 as well as the CX-3, and CX-5, all vehicles praised for superior driving dynamics.
With the introduction of Mazda’s SkyActiv technologies they are now attempting to bring this driving experience to a whole new level with a suite of technologies that they are calling SkyActiv-Vehicle Dynamics. This technology integrates and harmonizes all the components of the vehicle from the chassis to the powertrain.
The first technology system as part of this suite that Mazda is debuting in the next-generation Mazda6 is called G-Vectoring control. A system that enhances body control, steering comfort and safety by smoothing out the road beneath the driver through clever control of the powertrain.
By adjusting torque, G-Vectoring Control (GVC) optimizes the grip on the tires at any given point, whether turning or driving down a straight road. By adjusting the amount of weight on front tires, Mazda is able to offer better steering feel and enhanced performance that feels completely natural.
With the GVC system present, the vehicle moves precisely as the driver intends, reducing the need for steering corrections, many of which are performed unconsciously. The driver feels more at one with the vehicle and more conﬁdent because the car follows his or her intended line precisely.
Fatigue steadily builds up as the driver continues to make minor steering corrections. Since GVC helps alleviate these corrections, it reduces accumulated fatigue over long distances. And by smoothing the transitions between g-forces, GVC suppresses the swaying of head and body experienced by vehicle occupants, enabling them to enjoy a more comfortable drive.
And because GVC simultaneously enhances handling and stability by optimizing the vertical load on the tires depending on driving conditions, it demonstrates even greater effectiveness in rain and snow and on poor road surfaces. It also stabilizes the vehicle during evasive maneuvers. In any driving scenario, the system offers an enhanced feeling of the tires gripping the road, giving vehicle occupants a greater sense of security.
As one would imagine, demonstrating this system in effect turns out to be a difficult process. In order to do so, Mazda provided a vehicle with a big red button that allowed them to turn the system on / off instantly. To ensure we were not feeling a placebo effect, they provided data, including steering angle graphs comparing a course driven with the system on and with the system off.
Driving the same course with cruise control enabled, Mazda then showed us the data overlays of our driving inputs with the system on and off. It was instantly clear that the system was providing an improvement by reducing steering inputs. After some initial exercises where we were not informed of how the system worked, I was already a believer. Once I knew the system was in place and I was more observant of the effects it became even more obvious when the system was enabled or disabled – that said, the differences are very subtle.
This system is not a “feature” you can purchase or one that can be enabled or disabled on the vehicle when it will be delivered as a product. But simply a system that Mazda feels is worth adding to their vehicles to enhance the driving experience in their pursuit of driving pleasure.
GVC is a small change that works together with the rest of the SkyActiv systems and will be first available in North America in the Mazda6, although definitive information has yet to be released. Expect it in the 2017 Mazda6 when it is released later this year.