LA show: Mazda looks to the future
30 November 2006

Mazda is looking as far ahead as 2020 with its dramatic-looking Nagare concept, unveiled at the LA motor show this week. But it could pave the way for a new RX-7 sports car long before then, according to new design boss Laurens van den Acker.

‘It would be a great inspiration for an RX-7,’ he said, pointing to the RX-8-style flared wheelarches and the fact that it is theoretically powered by the same rotary engine that’s available in the four-seater coupe.

But Van den Acker is keen to make sure that we don’t read too much into the overall look of the Nagare. He describes the new concept as a sporty urban cruiser – designed to be aerodynamically efficient so it is sleek without any overhangs.

You climb inside through two double-length doors that hinge forward and up ‘like a butterfly’. The driver sits in a McLaren F1 style mid-mounted cockpit and there’s room for three on the bench behind.

The Nagare – Japanese for flow – is the first in a series of four concepts set to be rolled out in the next 12 months all giving clues to Mazda’s future design direction. This one was designed and built in California but the next one, to be shown at Detroit in January, is the work of the company’s Japanese design studio and is billed as a car that could emerge in the next decade. The third, set for unveiling at the Geneva show in March, gives clues to a near-future production car – expected to be the new Mazda 2 supermini.

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‘This is a process we started with the Kabura, Senku and Sassou concepts but with these four we will finally come up with a future look that will influence all Mazdas,’ said van den Acker. ‘The Nagare’s design language could easily be evolved for an SUV or a small car.’

Chas Hallett

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