Mazda design - from Nagare to Kodo

Excellent essay by Karl Smith from Car Design News on the transition from Mazda’s ‘Nagare’ design language to the contemporary ‘Kodo’:

“The Nagare language, first introduced in 2006, was developed by Franz von Holzhausen and Laurens van der Acker. It featured streamlined forms with lots of lines and textures. 

A casual glance at the Shinari suggests an evolution of Nagare, rather than a totally new expression. The natural curves and organic surfacing are still there, just more subtle and refined.

It might be interpreted as more mature, more developed from the earlier, expressive Nagare forms – but Kodo is built on a different aesthetic and philosophical foundation to Nagare. Both emphasise natural curves and tension, but Kodo works towards simplicity and the power of surfacing rather than dramatic windswept forms, layered lines, and details.”


Above left to right: The namesake Nagare, followed by the Hakaze, Ryuga, Taiki, Furai, Kazamai and Kiyora concepts

As highlighted in Smith’s essay, the Nagare language melded streamlined shapes with flowing character lines to create an organic, almost ‘born from nature’ character. This is perhaps best highlighted in the Furai racing concept, whose headlamps and front grille mimic leaves within a set of flowing tree branches, and the Kiyora concept, whose colour and flowing door textures are inspired by water.


Above left to right: The Shinari, RX-Vision, Vision Coupe and Kai concepts

In contrast to the Nagare language, Kodo marks a clear shift away from textures and character lines to a greater focus on proportion that is allowed to show itself through simple, elegant surfacing. This is perhaps best evidenced in the stunning 2017 Vision Coupe concept, where the cab-rearward proportions are accentuated by a solitary, sword-like bone line flowing across the side profile.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto available for Mazda vehicles in Australia

From the Mazda press release:

“Reinforcing its commitment to tech integration that enhances the journey of both driver and passenger, Mazda is the first in Australia to announce the introduction of Apple® CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ upgrade kits, available as of tomorrow to existing customers. 

All Mazda customers with a model with the MZD Connect infotainment system, first introduced to the Australian market in early 2014, will be able to purchase the smartphone mirroring upgrade kit for $494.98 (recommended fitted price).”


Although Mazda is late to the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto party, it should be applauded for how it’s implementing the software. Making the upgrade available for all MZD Connect equipped vehicles sold to date (of which there are very many on Aussie roads) is a great move. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant proportion of upgrades are from owners of older Mazda 3 vehicles dating all the way back to 2014. Whilst $500 isn’t peanuts, it’s a fair price to pay for the latest and greatest infotainment software available, and the cost could very likely be recouped through an increase in resale value. I can fathom younger people in particular paying the slight extra for a used Apple CarPlay/Android Auto equipped Mazda over one that isn’t, or choosing exclusively from vehicles with the software installed.


Jaguar to only produce electrified vehicles from 2020

From the Jaguar press release:

"From 2020 all new Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be electrified. The company made the announcement at its inaugural Tech Fest, a series of debates and a free public exhibition about the future of mobility.

Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, said: “Every new Jaguar Land Rover model line will be electrified from 2020, giving our customers even more choice. We will introduce a portfolio of electrified products across our model range, embracing fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles. Our first fully electric performance SUV, the Jaguar I-PACE, goes on sale next year.”

It's great to see another manufacturer following in Volvo's footsteps and also committing to an entirely electrified vehicle lineup in the near future. Nevertheless, it is important to note the very broad remit that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has given itself to satisfy this commitment to an electrified lineup; namely 'fully electric, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid' vehicles. The term 'mild-hybrid' is quite vague, and could mean simply producing a normal combustion engined car with a capacitor or larger battery to enable automatic engine start-stop and/or regenerative braking, similar to Mazda's i-ELOOP or Peugeot's e-HDI Micro Hybrid technology.

This decision is a step in the right direction. Let's hope, however, that the company decides to focus on fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles rather than slightly modified combustion engine vehicles that are branded as mild hybrids.       

Mazda and Toyota to collaborate on electric vehicle development

Hans Greimel, writing for Automotive News:

"Toyota will take a 5 percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda reciprocates with a token 0.25 percent stake in Toyota, the car manufacturers said in a joint statement Friday.

Toyota and Mazda said they will also collaborate in developing electrified vehicles and connected car technologies. They will also step up supplying vehicles to each other.

In electric vehicles, Toyota is being positioned as working on the battery-side of electric vehicles, while Mazda works on the overall architecture. The two companies will jointly develop the hardware and software sides of electric vehicles but produce them separately, Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi said at a joint press conference in Tokyo.

In connected cars, Toyota and Mazda will cooperate on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, seen as a key toward self-driving and advanced safety systems."

This appears to be a beneficial move for both parties.

For Mazda, it represents a cost-efficient and potentially time saving strategy to jump on the electric and autonomous vehicle bandwagon, by leveraging Toyota's greater resources and battery expertise, whilst retaining control of overall design and vehicle development.

Toyota, in turn, can make use of Mazda's product development and engineering expertise that has been responsible for the famed handling qualities of its SkyActiv architecture. This partnership is sure to also complement Toyota's existing collaboration with BMW on battery development and lightweight materials.  

Mazda G-Vectoring Control

Ben Hsu, writing for Autoblog:

G-Vectoring activates only when the car’s on-board computer reads simultaneous steering and throttle input. The data — including throttle position, steering angle, and, crucially, how quickly you’re adjusting the steering angle — are then funneled through an algorithm to reduce engine torque, which transfers vehicle weight, adding more grip to the wheels that need it.

There were two times that G-Vectoring was markedly noticeable. The first on a turn with a minor banking toward the outside, and the second was during cornering over an artificially wet section of the course — in other words, when the car was at the limits of adhesion. We suspect most drivers will notice the latter most starkly. The wet stretch was designed so that the tires were just on the brink of losing traction with G-Vectoring off. At the same speed when switched on, the extra grip kept the car planted through that section.

It's always great to hear a mainstream, non-premium car manufacturer introduce an innovative, software based safety measure. Although G-Vectoring Control will not have any significant effect most of the time, initiatives such as this are the best kind of safety measure- always active, but unnoticeable unless required.