After being cut loose from Ford, Mazda seemed to lack direction, but its new Minagi concept showcases a rethought design language along with a line of fuel-efficient technologies. The Minagi concept will be unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March.
Mazda spent most of the last decade showing concepts that embodied its Nagare design language, which featured organically contoured lines. Nagare began to see some slight realization in the Mazda3 and Mazda5.
But with a new chief designer in charge, Mazda junked Nagare for Kodo, first seen when the Shinari concept was unveiled in Paris last year. Mazda describes Kodo as "soul of motion." Looking at both the Shinari and Minagi concepts, Kodo involves an upright polyhedral grille and a pronounced hood rising up above the front fenders. Some of this design language seems to have evolved from the RX-8.
The Minagi takes on the form of a compact SUV, a style of vehicle that has become very popular, judging from all the concepts using this form at the Detroit auto show. Mazda envisages the Minagi as an urban vehicle, and suggests it heralds an entirely new model lineup.
Mazda is also using the Minagi to show off its SkyActiv technologies. The engine will be a small displacement direct-injection gasoline engine, SkyActiv-G, or a diesel, SkyActiv-D. Mazda's SkyActiv body and chassis means lighter weight and greater rigidity, while the SkyActiv transmission is an automatic with a lock-up clutch, to eliminate torque converter slippage.