Upsetting a concept car engineer is easy, as I found out earlier this week. All you have to do is simply forget that his one-off vehicle, which he’s spent many months lovingly crafting, doesn’t have production car niceties such as door rubbers and swing the driver’s door closed with a heavy SLAM that resonates through the whole vehicle…
Following Tuesday’s look at the Mazda Takeri concept at the Japanese manufacturer’s European design centre near Frankfurt, there was a chance to slip behind the wheel and drive the car (very steadily) around the perimeter roads of Mazda HQ.
Driving impressions aren’t particularly valid because underneath the sleek lines of the Takeri lurks the running gear of a current Mazda 6; this Geneva motor show concept is more about exterior and interior styling than handling and performance.
What I can impart is the feeling of space, luxury and calm that you get from the driver’s seat of the Takeri.
One of the key features of the concept’s four-seat cabin is the full-length glass roof that offers all occupants a tremendous amount of natural light. Elsewhere, the minimalist leather-lined cockpit is driver-focused, with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and straightforward switchgear that’s all close to hand.
The LED-style instrument display shows a dizzying amount of information. The main dial shows rpm and a secondary read-out inside the rev counter indicates whether the i-Eloop energy recovery system and i-Stop systems are deployed, as well as the ever-helpful, slightly patronising gearshift indicator.
The speedometer sits to the left, with the gauge on the right showing fuel and temperature information. The main part of this dial, however, is taken up by a driving mode read-out that indicates whether you’ve engaged sport, economy and so on.
The automatic gearshift lever reminds me of the joystick from my old Commodore computer from the 1980s, which might not quite be the effect Mazda was going for, but it works in the context of the Takeri’s futuristic interior.
Aside from the climate control (three silver dials) and the multimedia functions (a rotary controller and buttons), the rest of the Takeri’s cockpit is clutter-free, which accentuates the calming ambience.
So calming, in fact, that by the end of our very brief drive, I think my German passenger (who was part of the team that worked on the Takeri’s styling) had almost forgiven my hamfisted attempt to destroy his hard work.
As I mentioned in Tuesday’s blog, an interior based on the Takeri’s won't feature on the next Mazda 6, but it could inform the generation of saloons beyond that. Personally, I like the ‘less is more’ design – as long as the spartan approach doesn’t extend to leaving off the door rubbers…