Mazda is no stranger to creating knockout concepts â€“ witness the Kabura in 2006 and the Shinari a few years later. At this yearâ€™s Tokyo Motor Show, though, the Hiroshima designers have outdone themselves with the stunningly beautiful Vision Coupe and Kai concept cars.
Following up on the RX-Vision concept of a couple years ago, the Vision is â€“ despite its coupe moniker â€“ a rakish four-door. Mazdaâ€™s KODO design language is in full effect, with deep side scallops and a windshield-to-grille measurement seemingly longer than the entire island of Japan. Despite having four doors, classic coupe proportions are obvious.
Mazda calls the design of the Vision Coupe a mature expression of the KODO language, one which may signal a shift upmarket for some of its products with elegant and premium styling. It is common industry knowledge that Mazda longs to increase its bottom end through a higher average transaction price of its vehicles, rather than more volume. A car like the Vision Coupe would be a big step in that direction.
The interior of the Vision Concept is equally striking and not entirely made of vaporware and moonbeams. A trio of gauges sit ahead of the driver, with an elegant-looking tachometer flanked by two smaller dials, possibly reconfigurable screens. Mazda says this model features a â€œsee-throughâ€� screen for driver information, functioning as a display only at those times when it is required, and creating an interior space with great visibility. Okay, then.
A bit more grounded in reality is the Kai concept, which stands an excellent chance of pointing the direction towards the next Mazda 3. Featuring all of Mazdaâ€™s next-gen Skyactiv technology, the Kai Concept is Hiroshimaâ€™s littlest hatch cranked up to eleven.
This author truly believes the current Mazda 3 is one of the best looking small cars on the market. If the next 3 looks anything like the Kai, the compact end of Mazdaâ€™s portfolio will become even more attractive.
As with the Vision Coupe, the Kai evolves Mazdaâ€™s KODO design language, smoothing out some of the current 3â€™s creases in favor of sweeping body panels, an aggressively forward-canted grille, and very narrow headlights. The Kaiâ€™s interior looks largely production-ready as well, featuring Mazda hallmarks like a tachometer placed dead-ahead of the driver and a natty three-spoke steering wheel.
Some details will surely be toned down for production once the pencil-necked accounting department gets ahold of the it, but the compact five-door Kai is an excellent starting point for the next 3. As part of Mazdaâ€™s â€œSustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030â€� mandate (yes, thatâ€™s its real name), we could see a new 3 on North American roads in the latter half of next year as a 2019 model.
The Tokyo Motor Show runs until November 5th.