Mazda2: design story

Production Cars 29 Sep 2007
Mazda2: design story

The official design information and images of the new Mazda2 model, the compact B-segment car unveiled at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show.

Mazda2 - design sketchLaunched at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show, the new Mazda2 is the first of a new generation of Mazda models.

Compared to its predecessor, it features more compact dimensions (3,885 mm in length) and a reduced weight of 955 kg (-100 kg), achieved thanks to the use of high-tensile steel for the body-in-white construction.

This, together with the drag coefficient of 0.31, allows for a combined fuel consumption of 5.4 litres per 100 km(1.3 liter version).

Mazda2 - design renderingThe range of engines includes a 1.3 and a 1.5 liters gasoline units which respectively deliver an output of 75 and 86/103 hp, and the upcoming 1.4 liters turbo diesel engine.

Below we report the official information about the exterior and interior design.

Exterior Design

The new Mazda2 looks extremely dynamic despite its compact exterior dimensions. The natural-seeming interplay between soft forms and sharp contours, along with carefully modulated transitions, ensure a controlled variety of reflections across its exterior, characterized by the wedge shape, its focussed placement of contoured edges and strong sculpturing in the area of the doors and fenders.

Mazda2 - design sketchThe goals set for the Mazda2 designers was to create a completely new and trend-setting design: no variations of the predecessor model were permitted.

Despite the more compact outer dimensions, the designers targeted high dynamism and solidity, a rhythmic interplay between soft surfaces and sharp contours , as well as subtle effects of light and shadow at points of intersection.

At the same time, the new design was styled to appeal not only to European consumers, but to customers around the world.

For example, the B-segment vehicles are very popular among women in Japan, who appreciate a soft, friendly design. In Europe, however – with a much more mixed target group – a sportier and more confident design is preferred by many customers.

An important role in finally defining the new design concept was played by the Mazda Sassou, the design study shown at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Mazda2 - 3D Wireframe Mazda2 - 3D Wireframe

With an eye to the future Mazda2, Mazda incorporated the positive Sassou feedback from motor show visitors during the last phases of work on the new production model. The solution for a dynamic design, with a clear Mazda identity, was the combination of sharply cut contours and soft transitions.

The designers’ main goal was to create the impression of athletic movement despite the car’s compact dimensions. Also important was the balance between the exterior design, a cabin laid out for maximum spatial functionality and the use of forms that appear especially simple and precise.

Mazda2 - design renderingBy using extremely short overhangs and other stylistic details, the designers were also able to emphasise the compactness of the vehicle.

A second design theme for the exterior was called ‘coordinated movements’. Mazda2’s body lines, and the light effects created by them, combine to produce forms of expression that are many-facetted.

This impression of movement is further enhanced by the car’s wedge shape and by the character line that flows from the front fender to the rear of the car. And the swage line in the lower area of the doors that climbs as it moves towards the rear wheels, plus the front wings echoing the style of the Mazda RX-8 , contribute to the Mazda2’s dynamism.

The sporty look can be further enhanced by choosing the Sports Appearance Package, which includes side skirts, a lower front spoiler and a trapezoidal front lower air intake, a special upper front grille design and a rear roof spoiler.

Mazda2 - Front view Mazda2 - Rear view Mazda2 - 3/4 rear view

The team under Chief Designer Ikuo Maeda achieved tby emphasising forms that possess natural-seeming movement, and which also express high levels of build quality. The balance between organic and contoured elements is really only harmonious, because the designers consistently followed the primary objective of ‘coordinated movements’.

Mazda2 Mazda2 Mazda2

Seen as a whole, the Mazda2 looks both dynamic and solid, because "it is free from unnecessary ornamentation or decoration."

The design of the car makes it appear as cast from a single piece of metal.

Thanks to a generous underbody cover beneath the engine bay, to optimized bumpers and reduced turbulence in the area of the A- pillar and side mirrors, the Mazda2’s Cd value was lowered from 0.32 to 0.31 .

Mazda2 - design sketchFurther details include small gaps between body panels and neat rubber seals, rear lights with the appearance of LEDs when illuminated at night, washer nozzles hidden inside the cowl.

Even the front grille structure is designed in such a way that the components behind it are difficult to see from outside the car.

As a result, the Mazda2 looks very neat and tidy from every angle.

Interior Design

Mazda2 - interior renderingIn designing the interior, the guideline for the designers was ‘space that communicates movement’.

Well-contoured forms combine a confidence-inspiring solidity with strong visual movement. Despite the finite amount of space available, a cabin with a roomy spatial feel was created by skilful design.

Visually, the dashboard panel is divided horizontally in two halves and thanks to this stylistic technique, the dashboard does not dominate the cabin and the interior seems enjoyably light.

The upper dashboard is smooth and uncluttered, while the outer edges taper slightly away from occupants, so they do not feel cramped.

Mazda2 - interior renderingAt the same time the slightly convex shape of the centre stack provides an interesting contrast to the dashboard.

The gear shift lever is integrated here, mounted high and close to the driver’s hand.

The contrast between silver accents (in the area of the outer air-vents, the steering wheel, the speakers, the gearshift, the cupholder, the stereo, the speedometer and the door panels – depending on grade) and the dark keynote colour of the cockpit create a very contemporary ambiance.

Other distinctive elements are the white speedometer and a repetition of ‘rounded’ elements.

Circular forms are used for the four air-vents, the instruments, centre stack display and the controls for the heating and air- conditioning.

Mazda2 - Interior Mazda2 - Interior Mazda2 - Interior

These forms have become a Mazda design signature and are reminiscent of those used in the Mazda3, Mazda6 and the MX-5.

The Mazda2’s three-spoke steering wheel with integrated audio controls, also presents visual parallels to the wheel of the famous roadster.

Mazda Chief Designer Ikuo Maeda
Chief Designer Ikuo Maeda

The seats are slim and, with their vertical fabric bands and discreetly patterned materials, help to give the cabin a general impression of airiness and friendliness.

Final Design Decisions

December 2004: After 18 months of intense preliminary work, Mazda designers threw away all the submitted designs made until then by the three design studios in Hiroshima, Yokohama and Oberursel (Germany).

According to Chief Designer Ikuo Maeda “Looking for a significantly more dynamic starting point with an even sharper Mazda identity, we began working again with a blank piece of paper. Our goal was to create the maximum amount of dynamism in a length of 3.88 metres without sacrificing functionality.”

In early 2005, two designs were competing to become the final design, when the decision was made in Milan, Italy.

“I was there on a business trip and received a telephone call from a senior manager in Japan,” Maeda recalls.

“He said ‘You make the choice!’ I spent a week walking around Milan imagining the two cars in the city’s streets and squares. After that, I had my winner. This car would be instantly recognisable as a member of the Mazda family, not only in Italy, but also in Tokyo and in every other city.”

(Source: Mazda)

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