Mazda’s latest CX-30 creates ‘Car as Art Form’
Declaring that his fascination for Mazda Cars may have reached its zenith, Iain Robertson revels in the phenomenal light-catching and reflective beauty of the Japanese company’s latest family model, set to stun buyers later this year.
As you may recall, I have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Mazda Cars over the years, none more so than when spending time with its design team, at the European design centre (Frankfurt), or at a variety of interesting expositions over the years, some in highly exotic locations. The company’s inspirations come from innumerable sources, sometimes everyday man-made objects but often from nature itself.
Mazda produces motorcars that have proved highly driver-satisfying for more than forty years in the UK. In my past, I have owned a rotary-engined RX-3 Coupe, which was a genuine technological tour-de-force; a Mazda 1300 saloon, which performed considerably above its econo-car stance; and the equally brilliant Mazda 323 saloon. While the latter pair were run-of-the-mill ‘ordinary’, they stood out from their Toyota and Nissan rivals of the 1970s by incorporating better engineering and prettier body styles.
In more recent times, I have competed in Mazda motorcars, in a variety of events, including marathons for both distance and MPG achievements, some of which have never been beaten. In all cases, I have been enamoured by the sheer style of Mazda’s cars. When the first Mazda6 made its appearance in early-2002, I can recall the impact it made. Replacement, front and rear multi-lamp housings were just becoming the modifier’s ‘in-thing’ at Halfords and the new 6 featured them on a manufactured road car for the very first time. However, it was a shapely machine, possessing an abundance of interior space and was aimed directly at Mondeo territory, against which it was unlikely to win but the firm’s bravado was clear.
Mazda Motor Corporation has now unveiled the world premiere, at the Geneva Motor Show, of the second model in its new-generation line-up; the Mazda CX-30 compact crossover. It will be rolled out to global markets, with sales starting in the UK later this year and I would wager that it will convert countless SUV owners to Mazda’s supremely svelte styling signature, when it does.
The CX-30 is a new compact crossover that combines the bold proportions of a sporting utility, with jaw-droppingly elegant styling that embodies Mazda’s Kodo design language. The development team had hoped to create a car that would enrich customers, by helping them and their friends and families to make new and stimulating discoveries within their daily lives.
Of course, this is strictly marketing-speak…but there exists an element of truth in the company wishing to provide relaxed and user-friendly packaging, in a cabin that seats four adults comfortably and means that CX-30 users can enjoy their motoring to any destination with their vehicle occupants. To achieve the right mix, the CX-30 has been designed to be easy to drive, from the outset. Its increased height over a normal passenger car provides excellent outward visibility and makes getting into and alighting from the cabin an absolute breeze, while the relatively compact body size ensures that it is easy to manoeuvre on any road and into any parking space.
Basic performance attributes, such as accelerating, turning and braking, have been enhanced dramatically, which is something of an achievement for a carmaker that has already majored on vehicle dynamics, with all of its models over the decades. It has long been Mazda’s remit to ensure that its cars more than exceed dynamic expectations. Naturally, Mazda’s Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture enables people to make the most of their innate sense of balance and the latest Skyactiv engines, including Skyactiv-X (its most frugal offering), allow responsive vehicle speed and economy control in any driving situation.
Akira Marumoto, Mazda’s Representative Director, President and CEO, stated: “We designed the CX-30 to be an essential partner in the customer’s life. It will be made at key global plants so we can deliver Mazda’s renowned driving pleasure and matured Kodo design to customers all over the world. Moving forward, our new products and technologies will ensure customers continue to see the value in owning a Mazda car. We aim to be recognised as a brand that forms the strongest of bonds with each of our customers.”
While this is eminently laudable, it is the emotional balance of the car that engages most with me. Mazda achieves it with what may have been called ‘flame surfacing’, during Chris Bangle’s stewardship of BMW’s design studios, and while I can perceive similarities, I recognise that it is not plagiarism. While metal pressing nightmares occur with judiciously rolled, non-flat steel, let alone issues related to mating adjoining panels, Mazda has produced a deliciously organic profile and fill to its new CX-30. The class of car may be familiar but its execution is on another plane and, if Mazda needs to attract potential buyers, something from which Jaguar-Land-Rover needs to learn with some speed, then CX-30 is the perfect means to an end.
It is incredibly difficult to make a stubby, tall, yet compact motorcar look in any way sensuous. However, Mazda has achieved the impossible. In the firm’s signature red paint, the uninterrupted flow of its bodywork is a style achievement possessing no rivals. The manner by which light reflects and refracts off its readily-flowing flanks is to be experienced to be believed. To be frank, even the smartest of photographers will struggle to replicate the in-the-metal beauty that CX-30 presents. It is a car that can be termed as ‘art form’, an expertise that is within the gift of Mazda, as it has proven on many occasions in the past. CX-30 is a pinnacle achievement.
Conclusion: If you are already a Mazda fan, the CX-30 will beguile you further. Its greatest achievement will be to attract customers new to Mazda, which will be eminently possible from later this year.