Mazda makes NVH breakthrough

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MAZDA says it is on the verge of a breakthrough that will make the next-generation of vehicles significantly quieter from the occupants’ point of view.

Addressing some long-standing criticism of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) issues, the company is developing rigid body shells that are said to be more effective in resisting or quelling sound transmission than before.

While the actual details remain under wraps, it is believed that the advances relate to alterations concerning sheet-metal bonding, welding, thickness and blanks.

Mazda Motor Corporation program manager for CX-5 and CX-9, Masashi Otsuka said the Japanese car-maker is now prioritising NVH reduction in the same way that it is pursuing better crashworthiness in all future models.

“In the past we concentrated on crash tests first, but now cutting NVH is also very important,” he revealed to GoAuto at the Mazda brand immersion event in Hiroshima this week.

While recent efforts involving different tyre and damper choices have been partially successful in making Mazdas quieter from inside the cabin, the 25-year engineering veteran admitted that more work needs to be done to meet both media and customer refinement expectations.

“NVH reduction – I think we can find another solution,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“In the past there has been a trade-off between (lowering) NVH and steering, like making the tyres softer… but we have had to change the mindset in finding the solution here.

“Noise is transmitted from the road to the tyre and dampers through the body as vibrations that then reaches the people inside… so we have to develop an entire system… and not just the tyres and dampers… to improve NVH at Mazda.”

It is unclear which future passenger car or SUV will be the first to see the fruit of this breakthrough.

Though it is unlikely that the all-new Mazda2 light car, due in Australia by year’s end will be the first, the next-gen MX-5 Roadster and the long-awaited CX-3 compact SUV that will follow during 2015 may be the earliest beneficiaries of the changes.

Buyers may have to wait until the CX-9 replacement arrives in 2016 or the second wave of SkyActiv models, led by the second-gen CX-5 in about 2017, for the refinement upgrades to make themselves felt.

“We are in the middle of the development of the breakthrough so it will take some more time,” Mr. Otsuka said, “… but it will be incorporated in the near future.”

With Mazda’s line-up encapsulating everything from B-segment light cars to full-sized seven-seater SUV crossovers, the results of the NVH-quelling efforts are expected to vary.

As a consequence Mr. Otsuka said that his company would remain vigilant in meeting the ever-shifting consumer standards.

“While we respect journalists comments, at the same time we value what the customer says… we listen to both voices,” he said.

“If I am a good engineer then we would never be truly satisfied with any results… at Mazda we are striving to be better all the time.”


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