This new model was previewed as a bare chassis and mechanical prototype at Mazda’s 2017 Global Tech Forum in Germany. Visitors got a sneak peek of the forthcoming design, with all examples present fitted with the reasonably straightforward, semi-independent rear suspension.
In previous Mazda3 generations, the Japanese marque has opted for the complex, multilink rear suspension. Some might question the logic behind the announced change, as using multilink instead of torsion beam technology gave the Mazda3 an advantage over rivals such as the Renault Megane and the Peugeot 308.
Mazda platform development boss Hiroyuki Matsumoto explained that the torsion beam’s simplicity will reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) transmitted from the road through to the cabin. This is something Mazda recognises as a brand pain point lately.
The new torsion design connects the rear wheels with a steel subframe that twists via a transverse beam, in turn allowing the wheels to respond to bumps in the road semi-independently.
Mr Matsumoto pointed out that a multilink’s numerous moving parts and pivot points tend to create stray vibrations that enter the cabin, while a torsion beam’s simplified input to the car’s sprung mass is easier to fine tune in development. He also noted that a new torsion beam design was key for achieving NVH and handling targets.
Areas near the model’s wheels are strengthened thanks to the broadening transverse beam at either end, helping to minimise alignment variation through the suspension’s travel.
Although the front suspension will continue with struts, lengthened control arms and revised geometry will both work to minimise NVH. More seat space will be another benefit because of the succinctness of the torsion beam design.
2019 will also see the first use of Mazda’s SkyActiv body and chassis, labelled SkyActiv-X. This second-generation system boosts efficiency from well-to-wheel and helps to create a smoother, more harmonious relationship between the components that connect tyres to driver.
Sky-Activ-X is also hitting the headlines for its groundbreaking combustion ignition and plans for an all-steel body.