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April 8, 2023

The Mazda CX-60 FR Platform Maximizes Human Potential

In a previous story, we tackled why Mazda opted for a large displacement, 6-cylinder engine in their first Large Product Group vehicle, the CX-60. Now, it’s time to discuss the matter regarding its architecture, particularly its front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.

With Naohito Saga, Mazda’s General Manager of product strategy division, serving as a resource person, we find out that it’s connected to the brand’s human-centered design. See, for Mazda, “fun-to-drive” doesn’t necessarily mean go-kart-like handling, being able to pull an insane amount of lateral Gs, or do a blistering quick quarter mile. Instead, it’s being able to drive a car as one wishes; to have the car maximize a driver’s ability, whether he or she be young, old, experienced, or inexperienced behind the wheel.

And while a front-engine, front-wheel drive platform like the one found in the Mazda3 or CX-30 can offer this, because the front wheels do all the work—left/right movement (steering) and forward/backward movement (acceleration), there’s an inherent limitation. By going with a front-engine, rear-wheel drive platform, the workload is shared between the two axles.

Furthermore, the CX-60 and all other Large Product Group vehicles to follow, has all its heavy units—engine, gearbox, and the like placed at the center. This improves weight distribution making it easier to transmit forward power to the road surface. It also helps reduces its turning radius. In the case of the CX-60, it’s just at 5.4 meters—smaller than the all-new Honda CR-V’s 5.7 meters and close to the Mazda3’s 5.3 meters.

Saga-san likens their approach to humans strengthening their core muscles. The core—made of muscles at the trunk and hips surrounding the spine, abdomen, and hip are all responsible for load balance essential in the operation, particularly in the load transfer between the upper and lower body.

Of course, going with a FR layout does have one big drawback: it’s not that efficient in terms of interior space. This is where Osamu Kishi, the CX-60’s chief engineer and his team developed a solution.

It starts with a clean slate platform that takes into account every requirement of the Large Product Group, including aspects surrounding varying levels of electrification, installation of an all-wheel drive system, safety, regulatory, and even serviceability.

Looked at from a bird’s eye view, the hardest part, according to Kishi-san, was packaging the transmission. Typically, in a FR setup, the transmission tunnel would protrude into the foot well, making a symmetrical driving position—left or right-hand drive hard to achieve. A look at the current-generation Mazda MX-5 would clearly show off that issue with the transmission tunnel protruding heavily on the right-side of the cabin.

Mazda solved this by moving the seats away from the center of the vehicle and closer to the doors. Of course, the closer the occupants are to the doors, the harder it is to achieve a high level of side-impact safety. So, engineers had to find the optimal position based on the experience they’ve acquired over the years.

After that, the steering shaft assembly had to be placed in a way that it will promote an optimal driving position while also considering other aspects of the CX-60 such as ground clearance (170 mm), cost, weight, and packaging. Kishi-san and his team liken this to threading a needle, but eventually, they did manage to find the optimal assembly position.

Oh, and take note, because Mazda takes its driving position seriously, any deviation isn’t tolerated. If something isn’t to snuff, the team will have to repeat their studies and review the layout of the car from the beginning.

A car is made up of about 30,000 parts and many departments are involved in making everything work together. But by having related departments from design, development, and production all concentrated in a single location, Mazda’s able to achieve a breakthrough in the pursuit of human-centered design without compromise. It’s for this reason why the driving position of the CX-60 and their other vehicles is unique, and cannot be easily imitated by any other carmaker.


  1. Bilib talaga ako sa marketing ng mazda. Maraming bula

  2. I honestly think mazda kinda botched the introduction of these luxury suvs. Except for the engines, the only difference in terms of "luxury" inside are the design and some materials. Nappa leather and same bose speakers are found on their non-luxury models. Heck, even the key fob is the same. They also dont offer air suspension for a more comfortable ride. Anyway, they are cheaper compared to their target competitors so maybe thats why.


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