Mazda Shinari: A Showcase of Mazda’s Design Future

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Mazda Shinari – The New Generation

Building on Mazda’s previous NAGARE (“flow”) series of concepts, at the 2010 LA Auto Show, Mazda presented the Shinari. It is the first model to showcase the new global design language of the Japanese automaker – KODO, or “Soul of Motion.”

Motion is a heavily used word by many automakers these days. In this case however, it is also very well illustrated. The Mazda Shinari looks on the move even when at a standstill. According to Mazda, the Japanese word “shinari” refers to a powerful yet subtle appearance of great resilient force. That is what Ikuo Maeda, Mazda’s global head of design, tried to express in this new conceptual vehicle. And he seems to have succeeded. Maeda has been with the company for almost 30 years and has designed iconic Mazda’s such as the RX-8 and top-sellers such as the Mazda 2.

Mazda Shinari – A “Shinari” Exterior: Sleek Assertiveness

Mazda Shinari

The Mazda Shinari has four doors and four seats, but looks like a big coupe. The aggressive design is highlighted by the big wheel arches and the front fenders which rise high above the bonnet. Huge bulges frown above the “eyes” of the Shinari. The concept’s headlights have a naturalistic look to them and reminisce of the iris of an animal.

A new signature wing is the main accent of the front of the car. It starts from the bottom of the grille, goes up and through the headlights, “hides” in the fender in its most outward part and comes out again to the side. The front bumper is completed by two low side bulges just above the pointed front splitter that resemble flexed muscles and feature an LED strip on each side.

New Mazda Shinari

There are two distinct features that really catch the eye when we look at the car from the side. The incredible sleek but really small side “mirrors.” Those are not really mirrors though. Each of them houses a rear view camera that will most likely deliver a feed to a multimedia screen inside the car. Not very practical, plus it will have to drive a change in our driving habits, that is looking to an interior screen when we want to get a backside view, but innovation is what the Mazda Shinari concept is all about, so an interesting idea anyway.

The door handles also look very different from what we are used to. Well, those are not really handles per say. They are buttons that “click” the door open. Cool feature, but again unlikely to appear in mass production. Imagine if you live in Northern Canada, how would open that door when the temperature is well below freezing.

Mazda Shinari

The back of the car kind of resembles the front, but there is a little less going on. What I particularly like about it are the two small pointed bulges just the above the taillights. I cannot remember seeing such element point out so much in a car before. Again, there is a wing-like band that goes below the trunk lid and through the taillights. The exhaust tips are sort of integrated in the rear bumper and have a very attractive shape – kind of twisted but still somewhat organic design feature there.

Mazda Shinari – A “Shinari” Interior: Unimaginably Futuristic

Mazda Shinari Concept

The exterior of the Mazda Shinari is interesting and catches the eye, but the interior is where the car really shines. I think it is nothing short of spectacular. This concept car is actually a collaboration between three of Mazda’s design centers in Japan, Germany and the United States. The goal was to give the exterior a Japanese vibe, while the interior was mainly a contribution of the automaker’s Irvine studio in California, USA. Derek Jenkins, Mazda’s North American director of design, really did a good job there.

The interior of the car has high quality and sophistication written all over it. Aluminum trims, high quality leather and modern minimalistic design elements dominate on the inside. The shapes of all elements is very modern and create a futuristic atmosphere inside the cockpit.

Mazda Shinari Concept Car

The dials have integrated multifunctional screens. The tachometer is in the middle and is also the biggest gauge, which supports the sports character of this car.

New Mazda Shinari

It is all very driver-oriented. Even the navigation screen, is very close to the dials, very close to the steering wheel and the position of the driver. It looks as if it is possible to change the angle of the screen so that it can be tilted towards the driver or the passenger.

Mazda Shinari

Another thing worth mentioning is the omission of a traditional gear stick. Gears can be changed via the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. If I have to rate the interior of the Shinari, I would say that it is easily the best Mazda interior even in a concept car.

All in all, the Mazda Shinari is an impressive and complete design concept. It shows a very clear and positive direction that Mazda wishes to follow. We can only hope that more of this beautiful and sporty vision makes it into Mazda’s mass production lineup.

Images courtesy of Mazda USA.

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