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Geneva show: Mazda2 concept premieres

Littlest Kodo: Mazda's Hazumi concept previews the new Mazda2 and is the fourth model to showcase the Kodo design language.

Next-generation, larger Mazda2 previewed by largely road-ready Hazumi concept

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Mazda logo4 Mar 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

MAZDA today tore the covers from the Hazumi concept in Geneva, previewing the aggressive design language we can expect to see on the larger next-generation Mazda2 to be revealed in road-going guise within months.

Following in the wheel tracks of the current Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5, the new third-generation ‘DF-series’ Mazda2 will feature a version of the company’s ‘animal-inspired’ Kodo design language, which emphasises curvaceous themes and sporty proportions.

True to form, the company is using a near-production concept car to preview its latest core model regeneration, just like it did with the Mazda6-previewing Takeri and the CX-5-teasing Minagi.

The new light hatch will enter production later this year, but is unlikely to hit Australia until the early stages of 2015, meaning the ageing – but still top-selling – current model will stick it out for another 12 months or so.

All signs point to the redesigned Mazda2 being larger than its predecessor, with the Hazumi measuring in at 4070mm long (up 170mm), 1730mm wide (up 35mm) and 1450mm high (down 25mm) on a 2585mm wheelbase (up 95mm).

The name Hazumi is a Japanese word meaning to ‘bound or spring up’, which is a phrase that Mazda says describes the cheeky styling as well as the aspirations of the young drivers at whom the B-segment compact car is aimed.

“Whereas with longer models such as the Shinari we use long and free lines of motion stretching from front to back to express Kodo, with Hazumi we’ve created a form which suggests explosive motion,” said chief designer Ryo Yanagisawa.

“It’s like an animal poised to pounce every muscle is held tense as it gathers energy for the chase. Despite being small, the Kodo gives the car a presence that can’t be ignored and a shape that has driving pleasure written all over it.”

To give the impression of agility, Mazda has drawn the cabin as far to the rear as possible, pushing the centre of gravity towards the rear. These proportions also create what it calls a “wedge-shaped” body with contours that give the impression of forward motion.

The minimalist four-seat cabin promises a marked improvement in material quality over the current Mazda2. Stylistically, the instrument panel is said to resemble the wing of an aeroplane, and the fascia is kept sparse due to the relocation of all infotainment functions to a dash-mounted screen.

Expect large portions of the Hazumi cabin to translate to the production Mazda2, notably in the greater use of soft-touch tactile materials.

Features such as a head-up display, paddle shifters, push-button start and a ‘Sports’ mode that adjusts throttle and transmission parameters – further underlining the new model’s dynamic intent – are likely be available on high-end versions.

Expect the new 2 to be spun off a shortened version of the Mazda3’s modular SkyActiv architecture – meaning a new platform and new drivetrains. Mazda premiered one of these engines, a small-capacity 1.5-litre diesel, at the Swiss event today.

Volume versions are expected to use the same 74kW/150Nm 1.5-litre SkyActiv direct-injection and ultra-high-compression petrol engine as European-market Mazda3s. Both six-speed manual and six-speed automatics will be offered.

In addition, a new version of the current Japanese-market Mazda2’s 1.3-litre SkyActiv direct-injection petrol engine – overlooked for Australia in the current series – could also feature. That engine uses an astoundingly low 3.3 litres of fuel per 100km.

Expect the new Mazda2 to be the first SkyActiv model to use a cheaper, and more compact, rear torsion beam suspension setup instead of multi-link. Also expect weight savings thanks to the new platform (the current car is already a featherweight at 1010kg, meaning the new one could even dip below the tonne), and a new fuel-saving electromechanical steering system.

Despite being older than its main rivals, the current Mazda2 was Australia’s top-selling light car in 2013, and has also started the year as the segment leader.

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