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November 12, 2020

The Mazda CX-30 Proved Itself on a 836-kilometer Drive Through Kazakhstan

In its centenary year, Mazda brought its CX-30 compact crossover in a challenging 836-kilometer drive across Eastern Kazakhstan to the border of China, taking in sections of the legendary Silk Road as well as the barren beauty of remote central Asia.

Carried out this year before COVID-19 travel restrictions, the drive is a continuation of Mazda’s love of using a drive to challenge man and machine. In 1936, the carmaker demonstrated the durability of their first vehicle—the three-wheeled Mazda Go from the southernmost tip of Japan’s main island chain to Tokyo through a 25-day, 2,703-kilometer trip over dusty, muddy, and backbone-rattling trails.

In 1977, to promote the first-generation Mazda 323, a pair of 323 hatchbacks made a 15,000-kilometer journey from Hiroshima to their European premiere at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Incredibly at the height of the Cold War, the two 323s drove through the Soviet Union, tackling poor roads and tough conditions to highlight the all-new hatchback’s reliability even before it went on sale.

More recently, Mazda brought its Skyactiv-equipped vehicles on a 4,000-kilometer journey through several ASEAN countries, passing Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and then back to Thailand (read about our experience here).

The drive in Kazakhstan allowed for the perfect demonstration of Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive system. Featuring Mazda’s new Skayctiv-Vehicle Architecture, the CX-30 works in harmony with the G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) to deliver an even more engaging driving experience.

Thanks to newly developed control system and new technologies to reduce friction, Mazda’s i-Activ AWD system delivers a refined and stable ride in any driving situation while also achieving real-world fuel economy almost on a par with a front-wheel drive vehicle. Mazda’s evolved all-wheel drive system adds ‘four-wheel vertical load’ detection and works in harmony with GVC (G-Vectoring Control) to control torque distribution between the front and rear wheels, enhancing traction and grip regardless of the driving scenario. It also significantly reduces overall mechanical loss and contributes to improved fuel economy.

Newly adopted friction-reducing technologies include a rubber damper inside the power take-off unit that greatly reduces fluctuations in input torque sent to the rear-wheel-drive unit, and a new setting that applies a slight difference in the deceleration ratio between the power take-off and rear differential. By quickly adjusting torque distribution only when necessary, the system features positive response and enhanced real-world fuel economy. The rear differential reduces mechanical loss by adopting ball bearings and the use of low-viscosity oil, along with a design that stores oil in the upper part and supplies just the necessary amount where and when required. Acting in combination, these measures increase the precision of the AWD control unit while significantly reducing overall mechanical losses.

At the beginning of a turn, the AWD system will maintain the existing front/rear torque distribution to prioritize better turning response through the GVC unit’s engine torque control. After the initial turn-in, the AWD system gradually increases the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels to realize neutral steering and more stable vehicle motion. Harmonization with GVC also substantially improves rear torque response and linearity with respect to the driver’s accelerator inputs. When accelerating, more torque is distributed to the rear wheels, and more to the front wheels when decelerating, maximizing the traction performance of all four tires. It also improves controllability, so the vehicle responds faithfully to the driver’s intentions when engaging in active steering.

An all-wheel drive system designed to deliver real-world flexibility, the 836-kilometer Kazakhstan drive route offered a real mix of driving conditions to put it and the CX-30 to the test – from city streets to modern dual carriageways, to rutted tarmac and off-road gravel tracks this drive had it all.

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