New supermini concept could preview new Mazda 1

Mazda will reveal a city car concept that could become the Mazda 1 at the Paris motor show in September. The flamboyant small car concept will be the first everyday Mazda to develop the Nagare styling DNA that inspired the sleek Taiki and the stunning Furai racing car concepts.Mazda designers say the brand is "committed to" the brand styling and it will be used increasingly on new models after 2010. The initial success of the Mazda 2 cleared the way for an even smaller model and Paris is considered the perfect launch platform for what Mazda intends to be a compact, clever and stylish product.Design boss Laurens van den Acker said his team were "exploring how Nagare can be interpreted with the Paris show car". He spoke of a revitalisation of Mazda design based on the Nagare concepts, but acknowledged that his production cars couldn't be as provocative as Chris Bangle's at BMW, whose work he says he admires. "Mazda isn't a strong enough brand yet," van den Acker admitted.The Mazda 1 won't be the only new model to be previewed at upcoming motor shows. A small crossover 4x4 concept will be unveiled at the Moscow motor show later this year and will also adopt the Nagare design DNA. The Kuga-style soft roader will be specifically targeted at Russia, whose car market is booming. Mazda's head of European sales Phil Waring has revealed that Russia is on course to overtake Germany as the biggest market in Europe.New Mazda dealerships are being introduced in every Russian city with a population of more than 500,000 people and a sleek 4x4 is considered the perfect model for Russian roads and weather conditions.The 4x4 is also likely to come to Britain after the limited success of the CX-9 SUV which has been popular in America but deemed too large for our roads. However, if current downsizing trends continue in the US, design boss van den Acker is confident the new smaller crossover will be popular there too.

Will Powell

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