G whizz for updated Mazda3

A torque vectoring control is a salient change for the impending Mazda3.


AN intriguing dynamic update devised by Mazda for its passenger ware will soon be available here.

Mazda New Zealand is still tight-lipped about the impending inclusion of G-Vectoring Control and did not respond to a recent question about the technology from Motoring Network.

However, Mazda Japan has already confirmed the torque-vectoring device is to debut on the impending updated Mazda3, which the local distributor has confirmed as being en route.

In a release subsequently sent to media on Friday, local market boss Andrew Clearwater would only say the desirability of that model is set to be enhanced by its mid-life freshen, which he says will occur here in Spring.

So that means the new car is just six-to-eight weeks away? The seasonal change here officially starts on September 1, of course, and since the car will be well into export production by then - Mazda in Australia, for instance, has already announced it will launch the updated line on August 1 – the stars seem to align.

The GVC implementation, which seems likely to go to other Mazda models over time, is the headline change for the Mazda3, but not the sole revision.

The updated car is also identified by having also include retuned suspension and steering, along with some body and interior changes. 

Even though passenger model sales are being hit by the consumer swing toward sports utilities and crossovers, Mazda NZ has enjoyed some spectacular sales growth over the past two years, last month being particularly beneficial.

Mazda NZ’s managing director says his brand is using the growth cycle positively.

Echoing Mazda Japan chief executive Masamichi Kogai, Clearwater says his brand is “striving to create a special bond with customers and become a ‘one-and-only’ brand they will choose again and again.”

Continued Clearwater: “In order to do that, we will continue updating our models with next-generation technologies based on our human-centered development philosophy, without concern for the timing of redesigns.”

Hiroshima has described GVC as being the first feature in a series of new Skyactiv Vehicle Dynamics technologies under development with the common aim of providing “drivers with greater feel and a more enjoyable experience.”

It is not clear if GVC will be available throughout the range. Mazda commonly restricts its new driver assist technologies to medium to high-end models.

With torque vectoring, a differential transfers torque – the engine’s ‘muscle’ if you will - to the wheels.  The tech provides the differential with the ability to vary the power to each wheel. It’s new to Mazda but not to cars; torque vectoring has become popular in all-wheel drive vehicles and Lexus uses it in its rear-drive LFA and RC sports cars. Ford uses torque vectoring on rhe Focus.

Mazda says its system varies engine torque in relation to the driver’s steering input to tailor the vertical load on each wheel, which Mazda claims results in “smooth and efficient vehicle motion”, improved traction and a reduction in the need for minor steering corrections.

Conjecture that it will spread throughout the brand’s passenger line is strengthened by brand assertion that it is a highly versatile system adaptable to vehicles of any class and drive type.

The only requirement, it says, is a SkyActiv engine and chassis, the former allowing precise control over torque output.

Meantime, a clearer idea of the full extent of change for the Mazda3 could be provided by the domestic market Axela, which released for sale in Japan last week. The home market line-up includes a petrol-electric hybrid and a now all-wheel-drive diesel. Neither seem likely to show here.

The Japanese-spec model include detail changes throughout the cabin that could be considered likely for New Zealand. These include a revised colour head-up display – the position of which is linked to the seat memory function for the driver – as well as a reshaped steering wheel and new traffic sign recognition system.

The latter uses a camera to assess speed limit and other road signs, relaying the limit to the active driving display as well as alerting the driver if the limit is breached.

Among other highlights are an electric park brake, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beam and the ability to dim individual LEDs, and a pedestrian detection function within the auto emergency braking system that now uses a camera and operates at speeds up to 80kmh.

September is also cited as the release month for another Mazda of growing importance, the CX-9. Whereas previous iterations were effectively people-carriers, the latest is cited as a sports utility.

Like the Toyota Highlander, it is designed foremost to meet North American tastes and so, like the top-selling (thanks to massive rental car pick up) Toyota, it also eschews the diesel propulsion that has strong acceptance in this class for a petrol engine, a new 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre SkyActiv unit that also seems likely to infiltrate into other product, notably the Mazda6.

It's going to be offered in two levels of specification – GSX and Limited, the former in front as well as all-wheel-drive and the latter purely in AWD – all with a six-speed automatic and seems likely to price between $55,000 and $65,000.