New Mazda MX-5:
Mastering Germany's Nurburgring
During Its Development Phase



2006 Mazda MX-5 
at Nurburgring

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26th October, 2005

  • The third-generation Mazda MX-5 takes the famous Nordschleife 15 seconds faster than its predecessor
  • The unique circuit made for the perfect proving grounds
  • Fine-tuning of brakes, tyres and spring-damper assemblies

Mazda developers fine-tuned the new Mazda MX-5’s chassis systems at Germany’s legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife, pushing components like brakes, tyres and dampers to their limits. The 21 km long track with 73 curves, which hosted the Formula 1 German Grand Prix until 1976, challenges chassis and suspension like no other circuit in the world.

Driving 10,000 km here is equal to 200,000 km of normal driving, which is the average life span of a car. And Mazda testing on the most beautiful and demanding race track in the world paid off. In the end, the third-generation Mazda MX-5 lapped the Nordschleife 15 seconds faster than its predecessor. Stronger engines, larger brakes and tyres, a stiffer body shell and an especially well-balanced chassis made this leap in time possible.

After two years absence, Mazda engineers are once again regular guests at the Nürburgring and the new Mazda MX-5 is the first new model to profit from this. "The Nordschleife is more like a normal road than a modern race track. That makes it so attractive for us," said Yasuyoshi Mushitani, chassis engineer responsible for European testing.

"The circuit changes constantly, partially due to the erratic weather, partially due to the track’s different surfaces. Every curve has a different grip level and a different gradient. Several curves slope outwards with adverse camber, for instance. The curve radiuses vary as well, but the toughest are those curves where the vehicle and passengers are literally pressed together. If a bump comes while you’re steering into the curve here, then the force applied to the chassis is extreme."

Although the Mazda development team had already done the bulk of chassis and endurance testing at their home proving grounds in Miyoshi, Japan, the old Nürburgring was seen as an essential test location for fine-tuning the new Mazda MX-5’s chassis systems.

"We drive a pre-determined number of laps and observe, for example, what the temperature is in a damper," said Alexander Fritsche, Assistant Manager at Mazda’s European R & D Centre.

"With the brakes, we not only test the temperatures involved, but also brake pedal feel and brake system stability." Tyre testing was also very important: "Special types of tyres could only be eliminated after Nürburgring testing," said Fritsche. "A tyre that causes no problems on normal roads can disintegrate after a few laps around the ’Ring."

Perfect for Test-Driving

After resuming test driving on the Nürburgring race track in May 2004, Mazda expanded their test efforts to the surrounding country roads and even to the autobahns. The German Eifel area has advantages as well. The autobahns are relatively empty and have no speed limits; the country roads are not all smooth and have various surfaces.

"For us it was important that the new Mazda MX-5, besides its basic sporty concept, also be a dependable and easy to control companion in everyday driving," said Fritsche. "The focus of our tuning here was linearity."

On the autobahn, Mazda drivers tested the stability of the new Mazda MX-5 during high-speed driving, especially during fast lane changes. On two-lane roads, tests were conducted on things like brake feel, steering and throttle pedal response, slow-speed comfort, as well as transmission and differential tuning.

Classic Roadster Country — Great Britain

The test schedule also took the new Mazda MX-5 to the county of Essex in England. Here in classic roadster country there are small roads with lots of tight curves, garnished with rough and porous surfaces. Similar conditions greeted the test crew around the Glen Eagles, Perth & Kinross region of Scotland.

The Ideal Chassis Developer

Chassis philosophy for the new Mazda MX-5 is based on the Japanese ritual of Jinba Ittai – the symbiosis between horse and rider. This unity served engineers as a guiding principle for developing the driving attributes of the new Mazda MX-5.

However, instead of concentrating on pure speed, they strove to realise the ideal of a well-balanced driving machine that would allow skilful drivers high levels of driving enjoyment without the need of a large-displacement engine.

In the end, all these individual measures resulted in a new best lap time during testing at Germany’s Nürburgring – a final confirmation that the goal had been achieved and something that would put a smile on the face of every Programme Manager.

The third generation Mazda MX-5 is now on sale across Australia.

Other Mazda news:

Mazda at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show
20th October, 2005
Mazda Motor Corporation will showcase the world premiere of the Mazda SENKU concept vehicle, as well as the Japanese debut of the Mazda MX-Crossport concept ..... more

Japan's Mazda RX-8 'Sport Prestige Limited II'
19th October, 2005
Mazda Motor Corporation has announced the launch of two upgraded versions of its RX-8 sports car in the Japanese market ..... more

Mazda's Diesel Car Push
16th October, 2005
Mazda announced at the Australian International Motor Show, in Sydney, that they plan to launch a diesel Mazda 6 next year ..... more

Mazda Has Record September
4th October, 2005
Record September retail sales of 4,931 have encouraged Mazda Australia to revise its2005 sales target to a benchmark 67,000 ..... more

Mazda 6 MPS: Sophisticated Express
28th September, 2005
Mazda's most technically advanced high performance sedan goes on sale from October priced from $48,600 ..... more

It's Almost Here: The new Mazda MX-5
9th September, 2005
The new Mazda MX-5 will be priced from $41,860 (RRP) ..... more

Mazda Maintains Record Pace
9th September, 2005
Mazda Australia has achieved its best August sales result, selling 5,464 vehicles last month ..... more

Mazda "SASSOU" B-car Design Concept
30th August, 2005
Mazda Motor Corporation will present an exciting Zoom-Zoom design concept at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show in September ..... more

Mazda Starts Sales of All-New MX-5 in Japan
25th August, 2005
The embodiment of Mazda Motor Corporation's "Zoom-Zoom" brand message, the lightweight, two-seat, open-top Roadster sports car, went on sale today at Mazda dealers throughout Japan ..... more

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