New and Improved Mazda CX-5

Interview: Mazda CX-5 Update; a design that emphasizes SUV-like qualities

Mazda has launched the updated CX-5. The update was not limited to only its mechanism as its styling was enhanced as well. We asked Chief Designer Satoshi Tamaya of the Design Headquarters about its content and the intentions behind them.

â—†Updates that polish the essence of the SUV

—-: The product description is emphasizing the strength of an SUV; from what kind of circumstances did this course of action come from?

Mr. Tamaya (titles omitted in the following): We set out towards the character of a crossover when it made its debut two years ago. But after that, a lot of crossover models which were oriented more towards passenger cars got introduced into the market by other companies. As a result, the CX-5 relatively got closer towards the SUV’s main philosophy. So, we decided to raise its level by positioning it in the main stream of what it is to be an SUV, while still maintaining its existing good points.

—-: How did you take into consideration the differences between the customer base of each country? For example, there are a lot of women users comparatively in the compact class in the United States. However, in Japan, a higher proportion of males use middle class cars whose sizes are close to those.

Tamaya: We arrived at the conclusion that it will be accepted in any market if we are going to precisely highlight the strength of the gear (equipment, tools), without being conscious of the difference in gender. The SUV already has a large body mass, and if we were to finish it with the Soul of Motion molding representation, the same way as other car models, then it would become redundant; there is also a risk of impairing the gear’s sturdiness and reliability, in addition to keeping it true to its design. So, our aim is to highlight the strength in order to emphasize the character.

â—†An exterior that clearly conveys dynamism

—-: The horizontal fin of the grill in the exterior is impressive.

Tamaya: The old style focused on the emblem, and its expression has been tailored to its V-shaped signature wing. The pulsating sensation of the V-shaped wing emphasizes youth. This was made with a horizontal base and it was changed into a calm image. At first, we tried to express strength by twisting its shape this way and that way; however, no matter how many times we made a sketch, we ended up not producing both strength and a sense of high quality which made me say “It’s hopeless. I don’t know why, but that’s the case!”

—-: Was it because the technique of showing strength at the muscular surface expression was considered useless?

Tamaya: It felt like it had weakened overall even if we tried adding a partially strong design image. It ended up looking like a thin puckered-up mouth when we tried to push both ends to the back of the grill fin in order to produce a three-dimensional effect. However, after making such a decision, it was still too early to insist on a gear-like strength in pursuit of the essence of an SUV. The attempt to express the connection between the large surface and clarity has resulted in the expression of strength together with this clarity. I showed such an image sketch to the staff and I told them “Let’s go in this direction”; then everyone started drawing design sketches; then when we inspected it by making clay models we realized that “This will do!”

—-: What do you mean by a large surface?

Tamaya: The front end of the grill fin depicts an arc when it is viewed from the top; we made sure to connect the extension of this arc line to the fin on top of the fog lamp as well. By doing so, even though the lines are not actually connected, the viewer will feel like the entire front end is configured as one large surface. We were able to smartly produce a powerful, pressing sensation with this.

—-: You were able to naturally make the viewer recognize the entire body by following the details of their line of sight and skillfully guiding it.

Tamaya: The position of the rear lamp as well as the tail lamp and the turn signal were done in reverse, and the headlight graphics were modified in order to become recursive. This does not only emphasize a sense of wideness it also enables the front and the back image look more alike.

â—†An interior that further extends its advantages

—-:Please allow me to ask about the interior. Basically it seems to emulate the traditional molding though.

Tamaya: We arrived at the conclusion that we must change the Atenza as it is the flagship of the brand. On the other hand, we came up with the decision that perhaps the CX-5 would be most suitable as an SUV, with the clustered and harmonious feel of its instrument panel whose surface looks oddly untouched. We tried to express the overall sense of wideness and sense of speed by fusing the fine components and decorations in there.
We also had the same idea for the arrangement of the exterior grills and lamps.

—-: So that means you also arranged the interior and exterior design using the same idea.

Tamaya: We have modified all the lines of the instrument panel into a laterally flowing figure. We scrapped the piano black decoration and instead adopted a layered film. It has a metal sheet placed inside the hairline of the lower layer; moreover, we were able to emphasize a horizontal momentum while also producing a sense of high quality by laminating colored acrylic and a protective sheet.

—-: It seems like the figure of the center console has been slightly changed.

Tamaya: Not only have we made the various switches have a sense of high quality, we have also changed the shape of the boundary sections of the instrument panel. The existing setup had a smoothly connected center cluster and an integrated figure; however, the massive instrument panel was pushed up and it was modified into a supporting shape.

—-: You were able to come up with a molding that does not obstruct the lateral flow of the instrument panel but also simultaneously produces strength.

Tamaya: It expresses a slightly different interior and exterior design from the Atenza and the Demio; but this is the current style of Mazda’s SUV design.

(Translated by Michael Sabaldan)