SALINAS, California — Last week a team of Mazda engineers rode for hundreds of laps while the automotive press drove around a couple of small, ovalish courses at speeds ranging from 30, to as slow as 5 mph. The objective was to showcase the effects of their new G-Vectoring Control (GVC) technology, a driving aid that will debut in the 2017 Mazda 6 sedan.
With GVC, handling response improves, steering inputs are smoother and driver fatigue is reduced, all while remaining completely invisible to anyone in the car. On a side note, if you ever want a lesson in patience and self-control, try driving around in circles at 5 mph for a while.
How does GVC work?
You may have heard the of term "torque vectoring," which is completely unrelated to what Mazda is doing with G-Vectoring Control. The simplest explanation of GVC is it reduces engine torque a very specific amount the instant you turn the steering wheel. What this does from a handling standpoint, is create a very slight and imperceptible weight shift to the front wheels, and more specifically the wheel on the outside of the turn.
If you think of this in human terms, try walking in a straight line and suddenly change directions to go left. You'll notice you naturally push off with the toes of your right foot, which is the most effective way of performing this manuever.
Mazda says GVC is at work everytime there's a steering input, as small as a tenth of a degree, and while your foot is on the accelerator. This means that even while you're traveling down a relatively straight road, you'll still experience the benefits, but not if you're coasting down a hill and are off the accelerator. The torque reductions are executed within 30 to 50 milliseconds of a steering input, and again, are too subtle to notice. What you would realize in this scenario, given a back-to-back comparison with and without the system, is less micro corrections in the steering to keep the car going in the direction you want. If you're driving for a long period of time, all those tiny corrections that you're making on a near subconscious level add up, which leads to driving fatigue.
The prototype system we were able to experience at the event could be switched off for the sake of the comparison. But when GVC goes into production it will remain on at all times. And even though the GVC driving demo modules were at relatively low speeds, the system isn't speed limited.
Mazda says that GVC has undergone development over the last eight years, and as a result is entirely software based, so it poses no weight penalty. Additionally, because no new hardware is required, the likelihood of GVC finding its way into other Mazda products is very high. It's a subtle but effective step towards improving what are already some of the best handling cars in their respective segments.
Edmunds says: GVC is a clever use of existing hardware that will provide a real driving benefit in Mazda's front- and all-wheel-drive cars. It will likely find its way into all Mazda vehicles following its debut in the 2017 Mazda 6.