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Monday, 31 December 2012

Mazda Design Director Walks Us Through 2014 Mazda6 Styling

Mazda Design Director Walks Us Through 2014 Mazda6 Styling, Talks Design Strategyfrom Jason Udy on December 7, 2012 at Wide Open Throttle (WOT). We caught up with Derek Jenkins,Mazda?s North American director of design, at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show to talk about the short-lived Nagare design
 
2014 Mazda6 Styling

 2014 Mazda6 Styling

2014 Mazda6

 2014 Mazda6

2014 Mazda6 Styling Walks

 2014 Mazda6 Styling Walks

2014 Mazda6 Styling WalksUs
The back end of the 2013 RAV4 has a much cleaner and solid look thanks to a number of styling and functional changes. For starters, the new RAV4 has a traditional liftgate, ditching the quirky side-hinged door used in previous generations. Also, a full-sized spare tire is no longer mounted on the back door, giving way to a space saver tire stored underneath the cargo area (the refreshed third-gen model was offered with this option). The horizontal taillights, which give the 2013 RAV4 a wider-looking stance, are more substantial than the smaller units in the outgoing model. Toyota says the taillights feature vortex generators to improve aerodynamics.The Mazda5 was the only vehicle to fully-integrate the now-defunct – and wild-looking – Nagare design language; though, as the design director points out, some Nagare elements can be seen in the current Mazda3. Jenkins told us the reason Nagare was phased out so quickly was that it didn’t fit the automaker’s new direction. For that new direction, Mazda wants to give its vehicles a more premium, upmarket feel. To do that for the Mazda6, the design had to have simpler and cleaner lines as well as the right proportions. With the new Skyactiv platforms, Jenkins and his team had the opportunity to be more focused on those proportions. Where Nagare was more cab-forward, Kodo is cab-rearward with a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs.“We’re spending a lot more time studying premium segments and more importantly what makes those cars so desirable,” Jenkins said. “It’s not that we want to compete with premium products; it’s more that we want to bring some of those values and those qualities into Mazda products at a good price.

2014 Mazda6 rear three quarter1 300x187 image“We’ve been studying this theme for the last three years, not just for this car, but for all of our future products. We started [Kodo] with the original Shinari concept car and it’s just been getting more and more refined…I think this is the best version of it so far. It works really well on the CX-5 and CX-9, but here it really kind of jelled and came together really well.”

The smiley face and sloped front end of previous models has been replaced with a new upright grille that visually lengthens the hood, while the grille’s chrome surround flows into the headlight giving it what Jenkins calls an “eagle eye” effect. A pronounced front diffuser visually plants the cars, making it look more stable according to Jenkins. These changes combine to give the 2014 Mazda6 a more aggressive look. The new Mazda6’s dash-to-axle ratio is longer than other midsize sedans, which gives it more of a rear-drive appearance.

Jenkins is pleased with the rear of the Mazda6. Where the current car is wide throughout, the new car has more of a taper at the top of the rear quarter-panel, which “really improves aerodynamics and, more importantly, gives the car [a] trapezoid stance; where it’s narrow at the top and wider at the bottom,” Jenkins tells us. Overall, the design gives the new 6 a fast cabin and short deck without giving up any cargo room.

2014 Mazda6 cockpit 300x187 imageJenkins notes that the interior design is “somewhat conservative,” as the team focused on making the interior look slim and wide, while putting emphasis on the material quality and fit and finish rather than over-styling it. The interior detailing is a mix of soft-touch materials, brightwork, and piano-black finishes. Jenkins says stitching and perforation work were also major focuses. “Everything is done in a way that is very calm, simple, sophisticated and handsome.” When asked if there is a German influence on the interior, Jenkins acknowledged that the German brands have “set a standard for the industry and have had a profound influence on products at all price points.”

While we think that Jenkins and his team have succeeded with the 2014 Mazda6’s interior, we did ask about the small infotainment/navigation screen on the Mazda Design Director Walks Us Through 2014 Mazda6 Stylingand CX-5.