Mazda at the 2011 New York Auto Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 6, 2011

At the New York International Auto Show, the North American division of Mazda will display its set of SKYACTIV technologies. At this show, Mazda’s Minagi Concept will make its North American debut while the refreshed 2012 Mazda3 will have its US debut.

Included in the SKYACTIV suite are fully redesigned, very efficient, internal combustion gasoline and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions, and an advanced body and chassis. In a press statement, Mazda explained that these elements will improve each aspect of driving, such as performance, handling fuel economy and safety.

Later this fall, Mazda's new SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine in combination with SKYACTIV transmissions will first be applied on the 2012 Mazda3. Mazda added that almost one out of three Mazda units sold globally is a Mazda3.

The 2012 model will be refreshed and will get the SKYACTIV powertrain, a refined interior and exterior design, as well as additional safety features. Mazda said that the 2012 Mazda3 will be powered by a direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder that will improve fuel economy by 15% while the transmission boosts this value further by 4-7%.

If you were following the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, you may have noticed that the Minagi compact SUV concept made its debut there. This is actually the first Mazda concept vehicle to fully adopt its latest SKYACTIV suite of technologies and the new KODO (Soul of Motion) design that was seen first in the Shinari Concept that was introduced last year.

Mazda said that by mixing these design features with its advancements in technology, Minagi sets the direction for the brand's next generation of vehicles. It also serves as the inspiration for the future production model.

Known for its sporty and thrilling handling, the Mazda 3 has been a car of choice for drivers who want the car’s response to meet their expectations. For the 2012 model year, Mazda 3 is coming back to make good on that promise while making sure that both drivers and passengers enjoy their trips and journeys in any driving situation. The linear and consistent feel experienced by drivers -- referred to as Toitsukan – is more about establishing seamless transitions between acceleration, lateral and deceleration G forces in response to elements like driving, turning and stopping.

Toitsukan is not just about providing sharp response to accelerator and steering operations to deliver a sporty ride, but is also about presenting a consistent linear feeling of the vehicle’s responses to every move made by the driver. Not only that, Toitsukan is also about achieving an exciting and pleasurable drive for drivers while still delivering a comfortable and smooth ride for passengers. For Mazda, Toitsukan could be achieved through a vehicle’s features, resulting to a stronger body.

Thus, the Japanese carmaker wasted little effort to ensure that such goal is achieved. Among the adjustments made are the optimized tuning of the front and rear dampers and adoption of the Electro-Hydraulic Power Assist Steering (EHPAS) system. This employs a new setting for pump flow attributes to allow for easier handling during slow speeds and better feedback and road feel at mid to high speeds.

All of these efforts should allow the new Mazda 3 to boast of lighter and more agile steering than its predecessor. Thus, when a driver steers the wheel a little, the Mazda 3 will change direction a little; when the pilot turns the wheel a lot, the vehicle will dramatically change direction. This steering intuition may sound easy to achieve, but in reality, only a few carmakers have been able to make this happen – and Mazda is one of them.

Also helping improve the agility and handling of the new Mazda 3 is the fact that its body has been reinforced to make it more rigid than before. To reinforce the car’s body, Mazda increased the number of spot welds for joining the suspension cross members -- to which the front and rear suspensions are mounted -- to the reinforced body areas. Mazda also employed stronger materials for the reinforcements, allowing for more effective disperse input from the suspension crossmember mounts to the body -- resulting to higher overall body rigidity.

Mazda also replaced two reinforcement bars under the center of the floor panel with a stronger and more rigid single new brace – a solution that suppresses fore-aft body deformation. This single brace installation only applies to Mazda 2 models powered by the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter or MZR 2.5-liter engines.

Mazda 3 models powered by SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engines feature a drive control system that could control torque generation, paving the way for a more pleasant balance between engine output and transmission gears. This drive control system has been programmed to determine the needed acceleration according to the acceleration pedal input, thereby ensuring that generated torque meets the acceleration demands.

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