Continuous improvement of all premium Mazda models will likely herald adaptive damping soon
Mazda is considering introducing adaptive damper technology for future models, reinforcing the brand’s intentions to dominate a larger part of the premium vehicle market.
Unlike almost all high-end brands, the Japanese manufacturer is yet to offer the variable chassis technology, which can offer a diverse range of driving and comfort characteristics to vehicles that feature the system.
However, Mazda has revealed it is considering introducing the technology as part of its future vehicle line up or could even launch adaptive dampers as part of a model mid-life update.
It comes after Mazda released the CX-60 midsize SUV and CX-90 large SUV into the Australian market, with both vehicles sitting on an all-new longitudinal chassis design and priced towards luxury segments.
However, Chasing Cars, and other local reviewers, have found the ride in both vehicles was often unacceptably harsh during initial testing on Australian roads.
Speaking to Chasing Cars through an interpreter, Mazda CX-90 program manager Mitsuru Wakiie said the company was evaluating adaptive damper technology as part of its plans to offer even more premium models.
“We wouldn’t deny the possibility of thinking about adaptive dampers,” he said. “It’s one of the options we could take and we are studying that as well.”
“I cannot tell which model is going to be the first.”
While Wakiie could not confirm which Mazda might be the pioneer of adaptive dampers if the company decides to adopt the technology, he said it was under consideration for the freshly launched CX-90 large SUV, possibly as part of a mid-life update which ordinarily involves a suspension revision.
“During the lifecycle of the model that is something that we definitely would do.”
“If you recall, the current CX-5, from the first generation model to the current model, steering handling, ride comfort, we improved those elements in a steadfast manner and we are trying to take the same approach for this model as well.”
Advantages of the technology are numerous and offer vehicles flexible ride and comfort options and switchable chassis settings to cater for a broader audience. Without the technology, models are locked into a single chassis ‘tune’ which may limit the vehicle’s audience.
In the case of the Mazda CX-90, it underwent its development and suspension finalisation in Mazda’s native Hiroshima and in the United States – the largest market for the new flagship model.
According to Wakiie, each model has a number of “targets” which are set at the commencement of the development and must be achieved before the model is committed to production.
While the CX-90’s targets including “Steering, handling, ride comfort, NVH, powertrain performance” were fine tuned primarily for an American customer, Wakiie said Australian conditions did not differ greatly from the roads the model was tested on overseas.
More instrumental in the CX-90 unique handling and ride characteristics are the tyres, he said.
“The tyres are different. America has all-season tyres but Australia is summer tyres.”
Either way, the company is looking to improve each of its vehicle’s on-road manners beyond the pre-production development process, including ways to impart unique attributes.
“Mazda is always looking for ways to express ‘Mazness’ through steering handling and we try to evolve this all the time.”
Given the increasing pressure from rival premium brands and Mazda’s intention to occupy a larger chunk of the Australian luxury arena, it’s likely adaptive dampers will make an appearance sooner rather than later.
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