Mazda unveiled a four-door hatchback concept in Tokyo and it's what the next-generation Mazda3 needs to look like. The Kai Concept is a saloonish design with smooth, buttery lines as a new generation of Mazda's KODO design language.
The compact hatchback concept features a long hood with a sizable overhang and signature Mazda grille. The sculpted hood curves upward to the steeply-raked windscreen which flows into a rounded roofline that fastbacks to the rear. Smooth body lines and a narrow greenhouse create a speedy look and the rear wheels, pushed to the outer edge, bulge with their fenders to create muscularity at the back.
Beautiful as it is, however, we can see some things that would change in production. Namely the razor-thin side mirrors and the tiny view that would be afforded through them, as well as the narrow rear glass and thick rear pillars.
The Kai Concept's interior, so far as we can see, is as flowing and beautiful as the exterior. The dashboard is lifted up and away from the driver and front passenger, and is styled in a way similar to the current Mazda cars, but with a little more curvature and better division between upper and lower elements. We note that there is no clear space for an infotainment screen, but instrumentation is clearly defined and common knobs for vehicle function are clearly seen in the renderings.
Mazda says that the Kai also embodies the company's next-gen SKYACTIV-Vehicle Architecture platform and the newest SKYACTIV-X gasoline engine family. The new vehicle architecture is an evolution of the current SKYACTIV design. Mazda has not given much information on this platform, but says that it further refines the human-machine aim of the concept. It aims to balance the human body at all times, making the car feel integral rather than separate. Redesigned seating that force an upright pelvic center to support the spine is one aspect. Multi-directional ring structures in the body framing and more controlled energy transfers in the chassis help smooth out the drive. All of this plus other changes improve noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) from the car.
The SKYACTIV-X is a continuation of Mazda's diesel-style gasoline engines with high compression and its latest spark controlled compression ignition (SPCCI). This will make the new SKYACTIV-X the first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition, Mazda says. This will improve torque output and engine response. The video below visualizes this.
Mazda has not said whether the Kai Concept will become a production unit, but it does point towards where the carmaker is headed in terms of compact vehicles for the near-future.
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