After presenting three ground-breaking concept vehicles during the 2005-2006 global auto show season – Sassou (2005 Frankfurt Motor Show), Senku (2005 Tokyo Motor Show) and Kabura (2006 Detroit Auto Show) – Mazda's global design team wasn't about to rest on its laurels. To begin the process of evolving Mazda's design language for future Zoom-Zoom vehicles, they tackled the challenge of inventing a novel means of registering motion in vehicles whether they're moving or still.
The challenge was issued by Mazda's new global design director, General Manager of the Design Division, Laurens van den Acker and taken up by the man responsible for leading the US-based design team which developed this vehicle, Franz von Holzhausen, Mazda North American Operations' Director of Design.
He explains: "We're looking well down the road with Nagare. We want to suggest where Mazda design will be in 2020. To do that, we redefined basic proportions and the idea of driving, without losing the emotional involvement."
"Mazda doesn't produce concept cars simply to create pure flights of fantasy. It took soul-searching along with basic research to invent the new vehicle design language and the
Nagare concept car. The dynamic qualities of Mazda products already do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of motion, so our goal was to move our design language a major step beyond Sassou, Senku, and Kabura."
Von Holzhausen continues, "We began by studying motion and the effect it has on natural surroundings: how wind shapes sand in the desert, how water moves across the ocean floor, and the look of lava flowing down a mountainside. Natural motion registers an impression in your brain and that's what we hoped to capture with the new Nagare design language."
Like all Mazda products, Nagare has the soul of a sports car. Its shape is sleek and aerodynamically efficient, as you'd expect of an urban cruiser for the future. Wheels are placed at the far corners and there isn't an ounce of overhang wasted.
Access to the four-seater interior is provided by two double-length doors that hinge forward and up like the wings of a butterfly. The driver is centrally located for optimum control and visibility, while Nagare's rear compartment is a wrap-around lounge offering relaxed accommodation for three passengers. The central front seat and expansive door opening facilitate easy entry to the roomy interior.
An advanced design concept needs an advanced powertrain, and Nagare could conceivably be powered by a hydrogen-fuelled rotary engine. Mazda's work on this technology is among the most advanced in the world, with hydrogen/gasoline-fuelled rotaries powering RX-8s currently in service in Japan.
To give Mazda products sold in different global markets a common design theme, the three global design studios – located in Irvine, California, Frankfurt, Germany and Yokohama, Japan – are inspired, guided and encouraged by Laurens van den Acker, who is located at the company's headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan. Future concepts embracing the Nagare flow design discipline will evolve under van den Acker's direction as this year's show season unfolds.