The Mazda3 Revealed | Part Five

To deliver just the right balance between fuel economy, steering weight, feel and stability, all configurations of the all-new Madza3 are equipped with the Electro-Hydraulic Power Assist Steering system (EHPAS) that has earned high acclaim on the current Mazda3.

The suspension is also based on the current Mazda3 system, and has been enhanced to ensure even crisper responses to steering wheel inputs, and also to improve roll control and maintain a flatter ride by strengthening the suspension damping. In the brake system, the vacuum booster has been retuned and the feeling of initial brake application has been optimised. The overall result is outstanding response and reassuring linearity under all braking conditions.

The basic development concept for the bodyshell of the all-new Mazda3 was to improve the overall balance of the body's rigidity and ensure it firmly absorbs the reaction force of the dampers. To this end, particular attention went to reinforcing the area around the front and rear suspension mounts and the joint sections in each corner, which are subjected to the greater stress.

Structural adhesive was used to strengthen the joints for the front and rear suspension towers, and spot welding was added to reinforce the joints of the door openings. The result is a substantial improvement in rigidity and body hysteresis (the degree of car body deformation due to repeated applications of torsional load).

Mazda adopted a new approach, called 'airflow management', to optimally control the flow of air over, under and around the all-new Mazda3. Conventional car designs create a large amount of drag during the process of taking in ambient air (for cooling) and venting warm air that adversely affects aerodynamic performance and fuel economy.

However, the all-new Mazda3 does not take in excess air and thereby minimises drag. One specific example is the upper and lower front grille openings, which concentrate ram pressure (wind pressure) in a manner that eases the intake of air and directs it effectively to cool the engine. Additionally, the front corners of the upper body were reshaped and rounded front tyre deflectors were added to control the flow of air along the vehicle's sides.

As a result, the drag coefficient for the European specification 5-door hatchback and 4-door saloon are respectively 0.30 and 0.28 and are now among the best in the segment. These measures helped the engineers attain top-class levels for wind noise reduction, high speed stability and fuel economy.

Published 3 December 2008 Staff

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