- Mazda beguiles with wonder design and diesotto engine
- The crispest rear end of the compact class
- Mazda is loyal to the rotary engine
- Mazda is building a roadster based on the MX-5 for Fiat
Mazda beguiles with wonder design and diesotto engine
Tangible preview of the new Mazda3: Mazda Kai Concept
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.
Mazda Kai Concept: Just leave out all the trim
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.
Mazda Vision Coupe: eye-catcher with a protected front
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.
Expressive, but calm: Experts praise Mazda‘s design language
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.
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.
Mazda Vision Coupe from above: Asia’s answer to Alfa Romeo
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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