Mazda designers seeking a new look

Article by Christian A., on May 1, 2011

What Mazda’s global design chief Ikuo Maeda promises while he’s in charge is continuity. In the past few years, Mazda has gone through numerous design changes. Maeda, who is 51 years old, said that the Kodo design language, which will debut in the CX-5 crossover, will filter through the lineup in the future.

Kodo translates to "soul of motion" in Japanese. Major features include a toned-down grille with a stylized Mazda flying wing contour that extends under the grille and over the headlamps.

Maeda said that the styling cue in the signature wing is intended to echo the wavy M in the Mazda logo. The new appearance also includes what Maeda refers to as “rear-loading," a type of bunched-up-in-the-back appearance that’s intended to convey a denser, muscular form.

At the Shanghai auto show, Maeda said that the model has the appearance of an “animal ready to pounce." Mazda had been highlighting the fluid, wavelike Nagare design language for years.

However, Nagare (which translates to "flow" in Japanese) was seen in only one production vehicle, the Mazda5 minivan. It was only used after former Mazda design chief Laurens van den Acker, who had campaigned for the Nagare, had transferred to Renault. Maeda took the reins in 2009 and he immediately shifted gears.

He is throwing out Nagare's rippled surface treatment and the broad smiley-face grilles presented by Van den Acker in cars like the Mazda3. Maeda said that future sedan versions will feature rear-loading with a shorter back deck.

The CX-5, which is based on the Minagi concept, will be the first to showcase Maeda's ideas. The CX-5 will make its debut this September at the Frankfurt auto show and it will start selling in the U.S. in 2012.

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