Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies


Mazda beguiles with wonder design and diesotto engine

Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies-vision

Tangible preview of the new Mazda3: Mazda Kai Concept

Source: Mazda

Mazda has always done its own thing. Now the Japanese are building the world’s most advanced gasoline engine with the Diesotto engine and have just presented two remarkable design studies.

VIkuo Maeda certainly doesn’t let himself be disturbed by a storm. If the typhoon is supposed to rage over Tokyo, its appearance will at best be postponed. The message that he wants to bring to the people at the start of the Tokyo Motor Show is too important to the man from Hiroshima. Companies like Nissan or Honda like to send their CEOs onto the stage on such occasions, but Mazda does puts its chief designer in the spotlight, and for good reason.

While the cars of the other Japanese manufacturers are either boring to sleep in or degenerate into hopelessly exaggerated caricatures, Ikuo Maeda manages the balance between sober functionality and beguiling design. Over the years he has made Mazda the Far Eastern answer to Alfa Romeo did.

While in the vehicles of the Italians the "Cuore Sportivo" suggests, the Japanese have dedicated themselves to the principle of the Kodo, which can be translated as "the soul of movement". The terms may differ, but the demands are the same: the car is not just a means of transport, it has its own essence with specific characteristics. "To convey that is now more than ever the task of the designer," says Maeda.

Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies-studies

Mazda Kai Concept: Just leave out all the trim

Source: Mazda

His Japanese colleagues are currently only able to do this with restrictions, the master thinks. Her work has become too loud and too wild, it doesn’t fit in with the country’s great design culture. That is why he decided to reflect on the Japanese virtues and simply leave out all the ornamentation. "You just have to look at our gardens or our bouquets of flowers, then you can see what matters to us: Not the decoration, but the emptiness of the space around it."

The crispest rear end of the compact class

He applied this guiding principle to two designs that will be presented at the Tokyo trade fair: on the one hand, the Vision Coupe, which, as a five-meter-long eye-catcher with a curtained front and a rear cut against the direction of travel, anticipates the next generation of the Mazda6 others the somewhat more tangible Kai Concept, which with a sniffing nose and the crispest rear end of the compact class is the harbinger of the Mazda3 of 2018.

Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies-coupe

Mazda Vision Coupe: eye-catcher with a protected front

Source: Mazda

The Mazda design is also well received by external experts. “Mazda follows a very elaborate and extremely predefined, expressive but still calm design language,” praises Pforzheim professor Lutz Fugener. It is true that the interplay of harmonious basic proportions and a muscular sculpture with distinctive creases was not invented by Mazda, "but it is implemented there with remarkable consistency, both large and small.".

And with success, he agrees with the automobile economist Ferdinand Dudenhoffer: "The cars from Toyota, Honda or Mitsubishi can often only politely be described as taking some getting used to." Mazda is the only Japanese brand that exudes emotions.

The design is not the only parallel between Alfa and Mazda: Both brands are actually too small to be successful – with 1.6 million registrations per year, Mazda is not exactly one of the industry giants. And just like the Italians, the Japanese go their own way undeterred.

Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies-mazda

Expressive, but calm: Experts praise Mazda‘s design language

Source: Mazda

Mazda is loyal to the rotary engine

That was already the case in the 1960s, when they remained loyal to the Wankel engine and its rotating pistons and even led to Le Mans victory, even though the large VW group had just crushed the technology. This has remained the case in the last ten years, when Mazda bravely defied the trend towards turbo and downsizing and instead screwed the efficiency of its engines to record levels.

And it goes on happily. Against all trends, Mazda is currently pushing diesel onto the US market and onto Japanese roads – and is also enjoying considerable success. Development chief Kiyoshi Fujiwara has long refused to accept the electric revolution; he first wants to perfect the combustion engine, because the bottom line is that it is better for the environment.

With the perseverance of an experienced sumo wrestler, he relies on a construct that Mercedes and Audi have not tried for years: the so-called diesotto engine. If you compress the gasoline engine so high that it ignites like a diesel, you get an economical and clean engine that revs more easily than an oil burner and is even cheaper without complex exhaust gas cleaning.

Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies-vision

Economical and clean: Mazda’s innovative Skyaktiv-X engine turns the gasoline engine into a diesel engine


"We combine the best of two worlds and can always combine it with an electric motor to create a hybrid later," says Fujiwara. The next Mazda3 should already be equipped with a so-called compression ignition.

Mazda did not become a loner of its own free will. The financial crisis broke a long-standing alliance with Ford, and in contrast to design, the company’s balance sheets lack gloss. "The success is currently rather meager," says Arthur Kipferler from the consulting firm Berylls.

Mazda is building a roadster based on the MX-5 for Fiat

“Sales recently grew by only 1.6 percent, sales have fallen and cash flow was negative.” It will not be easy for Mazda in the future either, because major investments have to be made in new technologies such as electrification and autonomous driving.

Mazda has so far not launched an independent hybrid car or an e-mobile in its home market. But something is happening: With various alliances, the car manufacturer has broken through the isolation and moved closer to other manufacturers.

Based on the MX-5 Mazda is building a roadster for Fiat in Hiroshima and at the same time moving closer to Toyota in order to secure access to competencies and resources. This rapprochement is currently culminating in a joint venture between the two manufacturers and the supplier Denso, which is to develop a platform for an electric car suitable for the masses.

Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies-concept

Mazda Vision Coupe from above: Asia’s answer to Alfa Romeo

Source: Mazda

Apparently, the Japanese are not sure whether that will be enough, because they are also working on their own electric car, which should be located in the compact class. And again Mazda is going its own way: Instead of participating in the expensive battery battle, they want to increase the range with a small additional drive.

Of course, this is not a conventional reciprocating engine – it is a Wankel engine.

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13 thoughts on “Vision Coupe and Kai Concept: Mazda shows two new studies”

  1. Fifteen years ago, a Mazda manager told me that the brand wanted to become the Japanese equivalent of Alfa Romeo. Driving fun and design, a rather small brand cannot be ahead from A to Z, but it can concentrate more on brand core than commonplace manufacturers. It took a while, but with these studies Mazda shows its role model how good design works while the Italians are in crisis when it comes to styling. Today’s Alfas should look as classy as these two cars.

  2. Nobody here wants to talk about what an amazing achievement the Mazda diesotto is? This has long been considered the Holy Grail in engine construction, because there are several challenges.
    Mazda probably uses a compression of 18: 1 (instead of 9-12: 1 in ordinary gasoline engines), so the balance has to be found between ignition too early (and consequently the engine knocking) and ignition too late.
    Precisely this regulation is enormously complex.
    Mazda has not completely done without the spark plug in its SkyAktiv X engines, this is e.g. still used for cold starts and for "switch" required by the normal in the HCCI operation..
    The big advantage of the HCCI mode is that Mazda uses an extremely lean mixture, which can only ignite due to the very high compression. In addition, there are the efficiency advantages of a long-stroke engine that were previously characteristic of the diesel. Mazda itself speaks of 20-30% less consumption compared to their previous SkyActiv generation.

  3. I also consider hydrogen or methane from power to gas (wind power) to be good alternatives. Audi leads the way. This means that wind turbines can also be used at night when little electricity is needed…

  4. Yes, I don’t understand why the fuel cell was left behind so suddenly. Sometimes it is at least less resource intensive and does not make the world so dependent on 1-2 countries. Apparently, technical innovations also follow trends.

  5. The Kai Concept – that is the design that I would actually have expected from Alfa Romeo! Even with cutbacks for series production, the design that Alfa no longer wants to deliver is no longer able to deliver. You should be the chief designer at Alfa "Butcher"! I ever drive an Alfa myself – and technically the vehicles are unfortunately not up to date! Allegedly because Alfa doesn’t make enough money. Only, dear Alfa management, you are going around in circles. You are technically not up to date – so hardly anyone will buy you, and so you never make enough money to be able to keep up technically. And now this: You obviously can’t keep up in terms of design either! By the way: The colors you choose are just scary! Just look at the Mazda red, your silly Alfa red is just ridiculous!

  6. Well, when Alfa brought out the MiTo, which from the front looks like a squirrel that has been kicked in the balls, I also thought: Ciao Alfa, that’s it – now you’re just as dying as Lancia, which also dies on problem design are.
    But then, look here, came Giulia and Stelvio. Not up to date? Testers and customers see it very differently…

  7. Mazda has a wonderful design – see e.g. the Mazda Kai Concept mentioned.
    The front is typical of Mazda, you can see it at 100m.
    The corrugations / indentations on the side are brave to violent.
    Another 1cm deeper and you think of the impression of a Coke can – still well done.
    But the rear praised in the subheading reminds me a lot of an Opel Astra OPC.
    If you imagine the car without a label, then….
    You should do THAT more often and imagine cars with a different label on it in order to recognize how you are subconsciously fixated on your favorite brand and defend it.
    Opel would never have received such good reviews and attention.

  8. Cool cars – a bit reminiscent of the designs from the 1960s … 1970s, which were inspired by space travel and aerodynamics – but without those chrome bells and whistles.
    And in purely technical terms, the Japanese are, in my opinion, on the better way: Whether highly optimized fossil fuel propulsion or sensible hybrid technology – they will soon have that on offer. It’s like in a coral reef: Everything is beautifully colorful and works wonderfully together.
    My dream car is a serial hybrid: fully electric drive train + small battery (70km worst case) + unit with highly efficient V-motor including 20l tank (with 3l / 100km a reasonable total range of approx. 700km). Prevents the purchase of two cars for short commuting + shopping or occasional long journeys.

  9. "With the perseverance of an experienced sumo wrestler, he relies on a construct that Mercedes and Audi have not tried for years: the so-called diesotto engine. If you compress the gasoline engine so high that it ignites like a diesel, you get an economical and clean engine that revs more easily than an oil burner and is even cheaper without complex exhaust gas cleaning.".

    Here you can see again that the Japanese engineers are vastly superior to the German engineers. What the German carmakers only achieved through botch, the Japanese engineers achieved through great inventiveness.


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