…and three other reasons its next Skyactiv platform architecture might help you feel more groovy inside the car
Mine Proving Ground, Yamaguchi Prefecture, JAPAN
Mazda is on a cutting-edge roll neater than a California roll sliced by a Masamune wakizashi. A decade ago, nobody would have bet on it after leaving the Ford conglomerate, but you should never count out the guys who made rotary engine tech a reality.
Now, its new Skyactiv X will be the most efficient gasoline engine in the world – and it really works, as we found out. The 2019 Mazda 3 will be packing Skyactiv X tech, and also Mazda’s new-gen platform technology. Here are four things to know about it:
1. It’s all about people
The new platform tech isn’t just centred around engineering targets, but making people feel comfortable. “The development was centEred around human beings,” says Mr Akira Kyomen, program manager for Mazda’s vehicle development division. “We looked at how people use cars, how long they spend, what is the best state for humans in the car, and how to help people get the most out of their innate capabilities.”
You might scoff and say,”Then who are cars made for? Aliens?” But Mazda’s being very literal in its uniquely Japanese way. Honda too, has its own ‘human centric’ design philosophy. And having driven cars that seemed to be optimised for those with the reach and slouch of gorillas or chimpanzees, we’re actually quite glad for this obvious human slant.
2. It emphasises natural movement
One way the team made the platform ‘human centric’ was by studying how people walk and self-stabilise their upper bodies, with the movements of the pelvis and spine. Not only do the seats support a natural ’S’ shape, but the platform also is designed to minimise forces that are unnatural to the human body.
In other words, it’ll be the bedrock for cars that don’t bend you out of shape, even on the move. Mazda already took one big step forward with its G-Vectoring Control system, and this is another brick in the very-comfortable-car wall it’s building.
3. You’ll be framed! For support, that is…
One theme of the new platform is creating stability through circular or frame structures, such as in subframes or assemblies, to create more rigidity and enable smoother transfers of energy through the body.
The engineers have also focused on adding strength without adding weight: As you can see below, the B-pillar joint on the current Mazda 3 (left) and 2019 Mazda 3 (right) are shown, with the right part being just as light, yet much more resistant to forces applied even by hand.
4. It’s more than a facade
Like the Skyactiv X engine, the new vehicle platform is almost totally new and carries over no parts from the previous-gen iteration. The Skyactiv X test prototypes were wearing the current Mazda 3’s clothes, but by looking at the new body frame on display, it’s obvious there’s been a total change – look at the C-pillar section of the new Mazda 3 and old Mazda 3 (bottom, in blue).