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Mazda Vision Coupe Concept and Mazda Kai Concept: Tokyo Auto Show

What Is It?

The Mazda Vision Coupe Concept and Mazda Kai Concept both look astonishing. Sometimes impartiality isn’t necessary, and this seems to be one of those times.

Let’s focus on the Vision Coupe first. Although described by Mazda as a "coupe," this is really a large sedan with the fashionable rakish roofline and disguised rear passenger doors. Form becomes the master of function, but what a form.

The Kai (a Japanese word that can mean shell or restoration) is a compact 5-door hatchback that makes everything else of its kind appear awkward and dowdy. Note the absence of character lines down the sides, favoring a broader and more sculpted look instead.

Will They Ever Sell It?

Mazda calls the Vision a "next-generation design," meaning that some styling cues should eventually make their way into production cars, although their impact is usually diluted by the time they become ready for the street. Since the nose is so long, there’s nothing among Mazda’s engine inventory that’s big enough. And we should assume the company’s traditional rotary engines won’t be in contention because of their challenges meeting ever-tougher emissions requirements. But it would be cool if Mazda was ever brave enough to put this into production. There would be plenty of room under that hood for a hybrid setup.

Although Mazda hasn’t said anything officially, the general consensus is that the Kai offers a strong idea of what the next generation of Mazda3 will look like. In which case, we could see it here in the United States later next year as a 2019 model. Mazda even has an engine for it, a new generation of its Skyactiv series that uses compression ignition for greater fuel efficiency — better torque and better fuel economy.

Why It’s Important

The Mazda Vision Coupe Concept and Mazda Kai Concept show the world yet again that Mazda is one of the few Japanese car companies with a real handle on design and an ability to rival (perhaps even surpass) the Europeans.

While the Vision Coupe has probably caused designers working for other car companies to rip up their drawings and start over, the Kai is especially exciting, because it seems to have a definite future. The current Mazda3 is already at the top of its class, and the next wave will surely consolidate that position.


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