Mazda rolled out a surprise this week in Milan: a concept car that its design chief says outlines the company’s future design language.
The car is called Shinari and represents the first statement by the company’s design chief, Ikuo Maeda, who took over after Laurens van den Acker departed for the top design job at Renault in April 2009.
Mr. Maeda, who has been with the company for 30 years, designed the current RX-8 and the Mazda2. His father, Matasaburo Maeda, was a Mazda designer and directed the design of the first generation RX-7 sports car.
Mr. Maeda said that the concept car summarizes a new design language and philosophy for the company. The name Shinari means “resistance to being bent,” a quality that is suggested by some of the car’s tough-looking, twisted forms, as in its wheels.
Specific physical features of the new identity are a face with a signature “wing line,” a thin metal line running from the centers of the headlights below a shield-shaped grille. The wing line continues back along the fenders. The lower fascia, front and rear, are made of a complex set of planes suggesting the style of anime. Many observers have seen the elements of the Aston Martin Rapide in the car’s roof line and the almost lush fullness of the body.
Gone in the new look are the oversize front fenders of recent Mazdas, derived from its signature RX-8 sports car. The new concept car apparently means the end of the Nagare, or flow look, of Mazda in recent years. Derived from wind and water, its wavy forms made for interesting show cars, but proved hard to adapt to production models. The current Mazda3 and new Mazda5 style had been criticized for their overly swoopy forms.