Since its introduction in 2010, Mazda’s Kodo — Soul of Motion design has been a driving force in raising car design to the level of fine art. As the design language has evolved to express a new form of elegance rooted in Japanese aesthetics, Mazda’s designers focused on creating an SUV design that transcends the segment.
The result is the 2020 CX-30 crossover SUV.
Based on Mazda’s new ‘Sleek & Bold’ design concept, CX-30’s proportions combine the toughness of an SUV with a supple, flowing beauty that stands out in a crowd of SUVs that tend to all look the same.
“CX-30 is more than an entirely new entrant in the rapidly growing compact crossover SUV category – it’s a bold new statement of what such cars should be,” explained Ryo Yanagisawa, chief designer of the Mazda CX-30. “CX-30 was developed in pursuit of automotive styling as a work of art that inspires our customers throughout their journey.”
The Beauty of a Coupe & The Bold Toughness of an SUV
Inspired by brushwork used in Japanese calligraphy, the Mazda CX-30 body design is based on the concept of “Charge and Release.”
The overall design portrays the releasing and diffusing of energy built up from the nose and the front fenders through to the rear tires in a single motion to convey a sense of strong forward motion.
“At first glance, this appears to be quite a simple design,” explained Yuta Takanashi, lead clay modeler at Mazda. “However, the body sides give off a completely different look depending on the angle from which you look at them, the surrounding environment, and the weather, making it an endlessly appealing design that you never tire of looking at.”
The Mazda CX-30 reflects surrounding scenery in its body sides in a shimmering S-shape that changes with time, the seasons, and the movement of the car. Light becomes art as small ripples of light move in harmony with the vehicle’s surroundings, creating larger waves which are then scattered. Instead of using physical body lines, this look is created solely through movement of light on the CX-30 body surface itself.
To bring the “Sleek and Bold” design concept behind the Mazda CX-30 to life, Mazda designers created a vehicle with proportions that fundamentally accentuate flowing beauty. As the eyes move across the side of the car to the rear, the flow of power towards the rear tires creates a powerful stance that accentuates the impressive width of the vehicle. In an effort to make the vehicle appear sleeker and more coupe-like, designers blacked out the lower region of the body using cladding. The bold cladding also has the effect of echoing the power and stability of the lower body of an SUV.
“We didn’t want it to be an awkward, practical vehicle simply because it was an SUV,” Yanagisawa explained. “Cladding is normally used to protect the car body, but the turning point in the design process for the CX-30 was the idea that we could use it to black out the entire lower body.”
A Powerful Form, Reminiscent of a Sports Car
Generally, the established tactic for making a car look sportier is to design the roof so that the highest point is above the front seats and it slopes downwards toward the rear, but this tends to result in a loss of cabin space. For CX-30, Mazda designers and engineers opted for a higher rear roof to ensure adequate roominess in the rear seats. However, stopping there would have given the car a boxy shape that is more reminiscent of an appliance and not a sports car. Designers chose to extend the lower edge of the rear window so that the window sloped out and downwards. This gives the cabin a flowing shape similar to a coupe while still ensuring roominess and ample trunk space of an SUV.
By employing a “Sleek and Bold” design concept, Mazda’s designers were able to combine seemingly opposing sensibilities of power and grace into one vehicle. It is a creative pursuit, first and foremost, designed to inspire the creative spirit in the vehicle’s owner. If these two elements can work together in harmony, anything is possible.
“My desire is for this beauty to stimulate our customers’ creative sensibilities, encouraging them to exercise more creativity in their own lives,” Yanagisawa explained. “Far from being art that is appreciated only on occasion, CX-30 promises to enrich the lives of all who choose it by bringing a work of art to the everyday.”