The updated Mazda3 comes with a digital Stig Blomqvist lurking deep within its software.
It has a new feature called GVC — an addition to the list of motoring abbreviations which stands for G (as in G-Force) Vectoring Control. What it does is deliver a new way of integrating powertrain and chassis to enhance driving dynamics.
So where does the Scandinavian rally connection kick in? Mazda has made observations of the techniques used by expert drivers to enhance the handling of its cars.
One trick Mazda has spent years trying to replicate is the left-foot braking technique that many top rally drivers apply to induce forward weight transfer, which loads the front tyres and achieves improved turn-in.
Mazda engineers explored the concept for some years but were unable to achieve the response speeds needed for a seamless result. They tried first by making small brake applications and then later confirmed an effective solution through torque reduction while working on electric prototype vehicles.
The introduction of electric power steering and Mazda’s new generation SkyActiv engine family — which has much faster processing speeds — has achieved the less-than 50-millisecond response times needed for seamless intervention.
Now GVC equipped Mazda vehicles (firstly updated Mazda3 and Mazda6 models) can automatically make a small reduction in engine torque in response to a steering input, placing a slightly increased load on the front tyres and providing that enhanced turn-in response that increases the connected feel that a driver has with the car.
GVC adds no new hardware to the car but allows existing systems to talk to each other.
Mazda also says the benefits of GVC are increased in low-grip conditions and on uneven road surfaces.
So the benefit of using a smooth and dry race circuit to demonstrate its benefit seems largely limited to having a controlled environment.