Mazda hopes you are prepared for Japanese design



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    Mazda is hoping shoppers –- at the very least a handful of them — are prepared for “Japaneseness,” and are keen to pay a premium for it.

    With a 2 p.c world market share, Mazda is aware of it’s just a little fish in an enormous pond, and it’ll in all probability keep that method for the foreseeable future. In a shift from automakers bent on world domination, Mazda’s overlords are literally OK with its measurement, and as an alternative of progress, they wish to deal with cultivating a loyal buyer base. A part of the technique is pushing a brand new, minimalist design, the most recent instance of which was on show on the Tokyo Motor Present final week.

    The design ideas, one bearing the minimalist title “Imaginative and prescient Coupe” and the opposite “Kai,” increase on Mazda’s 2015 RX Imaginative and prescient idea. It’s an evolution of Mazda’s present design language, referred to as Kodo, or “Soul of Movement,” which has been with us since 2010. These curvy wheel arches and the windswept look on the present Mazda 6 and CX-Three? That’s Kodo.

    The newest interpretation doesn’t a lot substitute Kodo as refine it. Extra sculpting has vanished rather than natural curves rigorously designed to mirror lighting in sure methods, highlighting parts of the physique. As an alternative of precise character strains stamped into sheetmetal, the interaction of sunshine and reflection within the curves suggests these strains. Mazda calls it “artwork of sunshine,” and it’s onerous to explain, however the impact is placing. We’ve solely seen it underneath present lights, so daylight may render it both much less dramatic or positively gorgeous.

    “Mazda is a Japanese model, so we would like it to signify the distinctive Japanese aesthetic of easy magnificence,” stated Masamichi Kogai, president and CEO of Mazda. “While you see it, it’s easy, with out an excessive amount of ornament.”

    Premium energy

    Mazda’s latest powertrains have been identified extra for gasoline effectivity than excessive horsepower, a difficulty for the premium market the place energy is commonly equated with luxurious. Nevertheless, the model’s 2.5-liter turbo-four, at the moment discovered solely within the CX-9 crossover, delivers a clean 250 hp, monitoring alongside comparable engines from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

    Kogai additionally confirmed for Autoweek the model’s dedication to diesel in America, within the type of its Skyactiv-D 2.2-liter turbodiesel — that, regardless of the latest announcement of its Skyactiv-X compression-ignition gasoline engine.

    “Skyactiv-X is a gasoline engine with the benefit of high-revving capabilities,” stated Kogai. “However in torque, the diesel continues to be superior, and the two.2-liter diesel we’re going to introduce in america may have 420 nm (310 lb-ft) of torque.”

    Whereas diesel nonetheless isn’t a mainstream selection for many premium automobile consumers, it’s received area of interest attraction amongst German automobile consumers and is discovered all through the Jaguar/Land Rover product line; these are all clients Mazda wish to win, and if the novelty of a diesel in its showrooms places Mazda on their radar, all the higher.

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    As Mazda representatives clarify, its design technique and transfer towards extra premium autos isn’t about doubling market share; reasonably, Mazda is targeted on growing a devoted, loyal buyer base. Providing merchandise with distinctive styling is one strategy to obtain that. One other is catering to an enthusiastic area of interest fan base — diesel drivers, for instance.

    Simply ask Volkswagen. Truly, on second thought, don’t

    And what about Mazda’s final area of interest fan base: the rotary engine fanatics who’ve been clamoring for an additional Wankel for the reason that RX-Eight was discontinued? They could get their motor, however not essentially within the type of a sports activities automobile.

    “Rotary engine improvement continues to be occurring,” stated Kogai. “We’re growing a rotary vary extender to increase the driving vary of our upcoming electrical automobile.” That EV is predicted in 2019, although there’s no phrase if a range-extended model would debut on the similar time.

    So, a swoopy, battery-electric RX EV with a rotary vary extender? That’s a future that may make everybody glad.

    Andrew Stoy

    Andrew Stoy

    – Digital editor Andrew Stoy has spent the previous 20 years wrenching on and writing about automobiles. He is labored in all places from vendor service bays to the headquarters of the world’s largest automakers.

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