Vision statement

TOKYO MOTOR SHOW

TONY OíKANE

T O K Y O M O T O R S H O W

Mazda reveals bold new design direction for near-showroom spec 3 and 6 concepts

MAZDA has signalled its future design direction with two stunning concept cars unveiled in Tokyo.

The hatchback Kai concept previews the replacement for the current 3 and the sleek Vision Coupe is rumoured to be the shape of the all-new 6. Trade the doorhandles, wheels and mirrors for more practical items and youíre witnessing the look and feel of Hiroshimaís next generation.

Mazda clearly isnít ditching established design cues entirely, with the Kai sporting plenty of 3 DNA in its rear three-quarter view, but the latest evolution of its Kodo design language is one dominated by even sharper lines, with sheetmetal that appears stretched taut. Both cars trade heavily on what Mazda calls traditional Japanese aesthetics, with origami-like tapers and creases of the bodywork.

The best view is from inside, however. The Kaiís driver-centric cockpit puts a prominent tachometer at the centre of its three-pod instrument cluster, and hints strongly at sporting aspirations. Pure and uncluttered, it takes Mazda interiors in a more premium direction.

But itís the Vision Coupe that has commanded the lionís share of column inches since Tokyo.

Low-slung, long-bonneted and with a rear-set cabin, it follows the lead set by the RX-Vision concept that debuted in Japanís capital two years ago.

Rather than previewing a rotary sports car, the Vision Coupe instead suggests a new direction for the Mazda 6 mid-sizer. With a chopped, tapering roof, the next 6 could morph into a Volkswagen Arteon-rivalling four-door coupe.

Donít expect that extraordinary dash-to-axle distance to translate into the production car, though.

When Mazda previewed the current 6 with the Shinari concept, that show car also boasted longbonnet, cab-rear proportions Ė

features which were sadly cut from the production carís clay model to make it more, well, realistic.

On the inside, the Vision Coupe presents a more adventurous and luxurious take on the Kaiís cabin. The dash layout, with its strong chrome bar running from door-to-door, is familiar, but its inset infotainment display adds a sci-fi touch. Exposed woodgrain trim, meanwhile, points clearly to premium aspirations.

Mazda has good form in taking adventurous concepts and making them production reality, so the Vision Coupeís appearance at Tokyo bodes well for the next generation Mazda 3 and 6.

The new 3 will debut Mazdaís lighter, stiffer and more refined SkyActiv scalable platform, as well as the companyís groundbreaking supercharged, compression-ignition SkyActiv-X engine. Expected to go on sale in 2019, a motor show debut in production-ready form is likely next year. s ell a d