From Julian Rendell in Frankfurt
The unusual, bulging front wheel arches on Mazda's new 6 were deliberately borrowed from the RX-8 and MX-5 to give the new saloon and estate a distinct styling theme, says design chief Laurens van den Acker.Acker says Mazda must incorporate such unique styling cues on all future cars to beef-up the recognition of its models, which are still relatively unknown compared to those from giants like Toyota, Ford and GM."One of our problems is awareness and we need to be more distinctive in our styling," he says.With that in mind expect the next-generation Mazda 3, on sale around 2009, to feature similar bulging front arches.Defending the recent Mazda 2, which doesn't feature the theme and was finished before van den Acker was appointed 18 months ago, he says: "Remember the Mazda 2 is still a huge step forward compared to the car it replaces."This move to a homogenous, model-wide styling theme is a major change in thinking at Mazda, according to the design chief. "It's a huge leap for the company, having to focus on brand image. But otherwise, how are we going to compete with cheap cars from China, India and Korea?"