Mazda has now unveiled its G-Vectoring Control system - a handling aid that aims to make racecar-like cornering precision something that every driver can enjoy.
Developed over an eight-year period, G-Vectoring Control (GVC) is a software system that detects steering inputs and slightly restricts engine torque output to shift vehicle weight forward slightly, adding more downforce to the front tyres.
That in turn leads to more direct handling and swifter reactions from the car which are interpreted more readily and accurately by the 'human body' - the driver - in control.
The system forms a part of Mazda’s Hashiri Yorokobi theory - the joy from driving, or more accurately "the fundamental thrill of pushing past our own biological performance envelope".
Essentially Mazda has taken a step back and above the engineering of its cars, and taken a closer look at how humans are engineered. Its research revealed that cars that react in a human-like way were easier and more enjoyable to control.
Every time a car moves - forwards, or to the side - occupants attempt to right themselves, keeping their heads upright, with a range of motions channeled through the muscles in the neck.
Mazda’s goal was to make the reactions of its vehicles match the anticipatory movements of the human body - that means faster reactions, but also smoother directional transitions.
The idea - a "minimum jerk theory" - is not unlike how human movement might be described, whereby the natural instinct is to smoothly control our actions.
Applying the process to an automotive application led Mazda to create GVC.
At the heart of the system it works from steering input; even a reaction of less than one degree is enough to prompt the system to alter the engine’s torque characteristics.
The change is so minimal that vehicle occupants won’t notice it, but the result is more precise steering control with around 5kg of extra front wheel downforce added to stabilise the vehicle.
The time taken for a steering input to become a movement is thus reduced - it all happens in less than 50 milliseconds, and aligns the movement of the vehicle to the expected human reaction. So it irons out all those corrections we do mid-corner or even along a reasonable straight stretch of road.
The system works anytime the car has a throttle input, either from the driver or from cruise control, but doesn’t change how the car reacts 'off throttle', thanks to the weight having already been shifted forward.
GVC is also unrelated to, and independent of, electronic stability control, which will continue to operate on Mazda’s range as it has previously.
Mazda intends to include the system in all of its upcoming front, AWD, or rear-wheel-drive vehicles, however Mazda engineers were slightly less keen to point to the MX-5 as a recipient of GVC.
Although the system itself does not require any hardware changes to the vehicle (it is computer-driven), most models in the Mazda range will be given a slight revision to steering and suspension to better complement the GVC system’s behaviours.
Australian customers will first see GVC in the facelifted Mazda3, due to arrive before the end of this year. Mazda6 is the next likely candidate, with every model expected to receive the system in line with its respective update schedule.
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