All-new Mazda CX-5 (left) and Atenza (right)

Mazda CX-5/Atenza Interview: Chief designer talks about the evolution of Kodo design

Mazda performed significant updates to its flagship Atenza and the CX-5, Mazda’s first car that features the “KODO – Soul of Motion” Design Language. Both models are scheduled to be launched on January 7. Both cars have the role of leading the Mazda brand globally.

Aside from being equipped with the latest mechanisms, both cars have been subjected to significant updates. I have interviewed Design Division Chief Designer Satoshi Tamaya to know more about it.

â—† The reason why both models will be launched at the same time

—–: I think that it’s rare to have the same chief designer working on improving two models. Was it required for these projects to have them debut at the same time?

Tamaya: Right from the start, since each model had its own marketing strategy, we didn’t really consider the simultaneous debut. I knew, of course, that Mazda models have their own debut seasons. However, we wouldn’t actually know how they will sell if we don’t launch them first.

Hence, we couldn’t decide the timing of the updates from the beginning. After taking into account the respective schedules, it just so happened that they were on a similar schedule, so we decided to have them debut simultaneously.

—-: What are the advantages of launching them simultaneously?

Tamaya: Since the debut of the CX-5, I’ve been talking of using the KODO – Soul of Motion Design on each model. I have been referring to it as a “family” since all from our lineup are present. Instead of talking about each model, I would like to talk about the entire lineup as a brand.

—–: You want to talk about “Mazda’s Design” instead of talking about the designs of each model?

Tamaya: Yes, since all models have the essence of our brand. Based on that perspective, we ideally want the characters of each model in their respective categories to stand out.

â—† The significance of updating the design

—–: The Atenza and the CX-5 were both launched in 2012 and they continue to have strong global sales. I feel it’s a little early to be changing the body styling in less than three years time.

Tamaya: When the Atenza and the CX-5 had their debut, they had the best appearance to represent their respective classes at the time and they were able to convey that self-confidence. Since we have always been trying to build the brand with everything that we’ve got, we are constantly developing that appearance to make it stronger and richer.

Time has passed since their debuts; the exterior design will become relatively liberal because of other car models introduced in the market. Hence, we updated the styling to give them more edge.

Since the models that use the KODO – Soul of Motion Design, such as the updated Roadster and the launching CX-3, will all be present at the same time; the Atenza, as Mazda’s flagship, and the CX-5, as the SUV category’s leading model, should also have the latest styling.

—–: Meaning, the updates made Mazda’s latest style show?

Tamaya: I believe the proper activities that we were able to do were the acquisition of new insights, improvement of the sense of design, and raising the level of technical aspects in manufacturing and designing, and finally accelerating towards the next stages.

I did my best at the time as the chief designer for the Atenza. That’s because I was given another chance to change its appearance. As I designed it, I applied all the sentiments I had that accumulated in two years.

Masashi Nakayama, the CX-5’s chief designer, who focused on the Roadster project, told me to take care of his “daughter.” It felt that I had huge responsibilities for both cars.

(Translated by Katherine N. Bantiles)