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Friday, September 10, 2010

Mazda Shinari concept - First Look

The world gets its first look at Mazda’s new design language with the unveil of its latest concept – before auto show season begins.

By Matt DeLorenzo


Photos: Mazda Shinari concept >>

With the Mazda Shinari concept, the Japanese automaker is turning the page on its “flow” inspired Nagare design theme in favor of a new, more dynamic design lexicon called Kodo. Future Mazda products will incorporate the concept’s strong character lines and powerful look, according to Ikuo Maeda, the carmaker’s global head of design.

Some elements of traditional Mazda design cues will be retained, such as the five-point grille and the prominent front fender shape, but the 4-door Shinari embodies a new look that blends sharp character lines with sculpted body shapes to convey a sense of power and elegance.

Based on a hypothetical C/D platform slightly larger than the current Mazda6, the Shinari is a pure design exercise rather than a precursor of a production model. Some of the unique styling touches include the use of satin finish metal accents that frame the bottom of the grille and splay out through the headlamp openings. This strip seems to travel through the wheel arch and re-emerges as a side vent accent. This strip is also indirectly lit when the headlamps are turned on, giving the car a distinctive look in the dark.

In addition to crisp character lines, the overall shape features a pronounced cab rearward proportion. This makes the rear haunch look more powerful, while the long hood and dash-to-axle ratio imparts a sense of speed. The designers’ intent is to make the Shinari look like it’s moving even when it’s standing still.

The cabin features a cockpit layout for the driver with a layered instrument binnacle that sweeps down into the center console, separating the driver from the passenger. The center stack is essentially an open space in which additional controls and the shifter are located. Atop that stack is an auxiliary navigation screen and entertainment systems. Even though the main binnacle in front of the driver is tall, the rest of the cabin has an open, uncluttered appearance enhanced by a glass roof that lets in a lot of light.

Overall, the new Kodo design philosophy is very Italian in its execution, capturing the kind of passion and energy seen in exotic car designs. It’s a look Maeda believes can be used on both passenger sedans like the 6 and future replacements for the MX-5 Miata and RX-8.