Mazda’s Skyactiv technology comes with an unexpected bonus for designers

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 8, 2012

The Skyactiv technology of Mazda will make its debut on the CX-5 model next month. According to Mazda Europe design chief Peter Birtwhistle, the technology comes with an unexpected bonus for designers. Specifically, it allows for proportions similar to a rear wheel drive vehicle because of the angle wherein the exhaust system comes out of the engine, he discussed.

He further explained that this enables them to get the wheels further forward and the powerplant further back, allowing for “more classic proportions."

The proportions are demonstrated on the Takeri concept, which has been displayed at Geneva after its debut in Tokyo in 2011. The Takeri concept offers hints about the Mazda6, which is set to be revealed at the Paris show in September. The proportions also work well on C segment vehicles such as the Mazda3, the next generation of which is a "very sporty" one according to Birtwhistle.

Norman noted that the small sedans are not popular in Western Europe, but they are "huge" in Russia and Eastern Europe. The automaker is selling more Mazda3 sedans than hatches globally in a ratio of around 60:40.

Although it has had a lean couple of years on the product front, its design teams have been "incredibly busy" developing all the Skyactiv models with input to Japan coming from Europe, California and even the small studio that it now has in Shanghai. Birtwhistle believes that the future of design lies in having more small studios worldwide providing input to a central studio, which has a full mock-up capability.

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