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Future models - Mazda - RX-Vision

RX-Vision previews new wave of Mazda models

Pointing the way: The RX-Vision concept not only points the way to Mazda’s work on an all-new rotary-powered sportscar, it also marks a fresh start in terms of design language for the brand.

New Mazda design creed takes hold while rotary work continues as priority over MPS

Mazda logo23 Jun 2016

By DANIEL GARDNER

MAZDA’S tantalising RX-Vision concept not only previews a long-anticipated rotary-powered sportscar comeback for the Japanese brand but points to the new-generation design language for a range of models, according to Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders.

Unveiled at the Tokyo motor show last October, the front-engine/rear-drive RX-Vision captured the motoring world’s attention with its emphatic demonstration that Mazda intends to reintroduce rotary powertrain technology with a new RX-series model.

However, Mr Benders said this week that the show-stopping concept’s DNA would be more widespread than just one rotary-powered sports coupe, representing a fresh start in terms of styling now that the ‘Kodo’ design language had extended to every SkyActiv model in its range since debuting on the Mazda3 in 2014.

Speaking at the launch of the company’s new G-Vectoring technology in California, Mr Benders expressed surprise that so much attention was focused on “the rotary story” because the RX-Vision “is really signalling the next generation of design language”.

He said the first signatures of the design philosophy were already emerging, starting with the MX-5 sportscar last year, while the arrival of the CX-9 next month will continue the application of the styling and on into future models.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on there and you’ll see it on CX-9. The amount of creasing has reduced immensely and MX-5 is more fluid so that’s really what RX-Vision was a part of,” he said.

“The next generation of our cars will have that sort of design language coming into them.”

Given the scale of a ground-up sportscar project, it is likely other models will arrive wearing the styling trend before a production RX, but Mr Benders said the rotary program was still ongoing.

“They still want to bring rotary back but it’s got to meet all of the things to do with emissions and fuel economy to fit into the range,” he said. “That development is still happening with a small dedicated team.”

While the RX sportscar project and the new MX-5 have bolstered Mazda’s focus on driver-oriented cars, the high-performance MPS moniker has not been offered since the Mazda3 MPS was discontinued in the previous generation.

Mr Benders explained that the revival of rotary power was more of a possibility at this stage than a return of an MPS-badged Mazda.

“A rotary-powered sportscar is more iconic than an MPS for us and it’s more differentiating so if we can get it up I think it would have more marketing value for us than an MPS because it would be just another hot hatch against the (VW Golf) GTI – but nobody else has rotary,” he said.

“If they can make that work, that would be the preferred direction.”

If the Mazda3 MPS was to be resurrected, Mr Benders said it would have to be a part of a complete new model introduction rather than as part of a mid-life update, which the current Mazda3 is about to undergo.

“We’d always like to be able to offer it but the cycle plan doesn’t work with MPS at the moment. Ultimately, when they get back to a point when they can bring it back naturally, it may come back but at this stage it’s not,” he said.

“If we are going to give mid-cycle freshening to Mazda3 in the next six months, then in two years’ time we will move into something else.

“You want an MPS that would carry that over and it sort of doesn’t work. It has to be tuned into a cycle plan and come in at the right time. I think we missed the window for it.”

Mr Benders also explained that it would be hard to fit another variant into the Mazda3 range when the company was already experiencing supply constraints for the more standard 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre versions.

“We’ve got a capacity issue at the moment as well. We’re basically selling everything we can and the CX range is driving a lot of that,” he said.

“I can’t go to the factory and say we need this to sell more cars. It’s a bit of a hard case to argue.

“We don’t have enough influence for them to make an MPS just for us.”

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