Mazda Kai Concept previews a hot new hatch in Tokyo


Mazda has two major concepts in store at the Tokyo Motor Show. The Vision Coupe gives us an idea of what to expect from Mazda’s future lineup, whereas this one, the Kai Concept, seems to focus solely on the Mazda3.

Mazda calls it a “more mature expression” of its current design language, and I’d be inclined to agree. The headlights and taillights are slimmer and more aggressive, and many of the sharp creases found on the current body have been replaced with smooth, flowing lines. Thanks to how far back the cabin sits, it looks fast, even though it’s not moving.

The Kai is less revolution and more evolution, which isn’t a bad thing.


Mazda

Being a concept, there are some wild bits that probably won’t make it to production. The door handles are tiny and embedded in the body. The side mirrors are incredibly thin. The roof has a solid-color center, with two longitudinal pieces of glass, one above each passenger’s head.

Inside, things aren’t necessarily out there, but it still looks like an evolution of the current Mazda3’s setup. The steering wheel is familiar, but thinner. The gauges look pretty close to the current ones, and the shifter is just that — a straightforward shifter that doesn’t fall prey to the same shift-by-wire trappings that ate other automakers whole (I’m looking at you, BMW). The biggest change is the infotainment system, which lives inside a tier of the dashboard, as opposed to its current “floating tablet” look.

The engine is probably the least futuristic part of the whole concept. The Kai Concept packs Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engine, which runs on gasoline but relies on a compression-ignition scheme more similar to a diesel engine. The result is a more efficient engine that, when paired with a supercharger, can provide plenty of power.

It’s not exactly clear when Mazda plans to introduce the new Mazda3, but staring at the Kai Concept should keep the public plenty busy for a little while longer. The Tokyo Motor Show runs through November 5.



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