March 8, 2011
Mazda followed its hugely successful Shinari four-door coupe concept with the unveiling at Geneva of the Minagi, a concept that previews future compact SUV design at Mazda. The Minagi is the second example of designer Masashi Nakayama’s Kodo design theme, which is much more accessible to consumers than the company’s previous Nagare design language.
The Minagi’s taut lines are meant to evoke images of a muscled animal, and designers studied cheetahs when working on the Minagi. “I felt a compact crossover SUV was the perfect vehicle to express agility and focused movement; the flexibility of four limbs moving in unison and an upright posture,” Nakayama said. The goal was to avoid the common SUV appearance of a vehicle which is wearing a backpack, the company said.
The Minagi’s grille angles downward, while the headlights slant upward, creating intensity in the car’s “face.” A chrome Mazda wing badge on the front fascia is shared with that on the Shinari previously.
At the rear the human animal informed the contrast between the rear fenders and the taut lines at the rear end, evoking the “seductive hip line of a toned athlete.” Sounds like the designers spent too much time with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Inside the car features a driver-oriented cockpit highlighting strength and solidity using quality materials with superior fit and finish. The black leather upholstery bears red highlights on the rear seat backs and door armrests.
Up front, four satin chrome struts support the instrument panel, contributing to an impression of massive bracing and strength. Meanwhile the focus of the instruments and controls on the driver underscores Mazda’s driver-centric Zoom-Zoom philosophy.
DAN CARNEY is a veteran auto industry observer who has written for MSNBC.com, Motor Trend, AutoWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Better Homes and Gardens and other publications. He has authored two books, "Dodge Viper" and "Honda S2000" and is a juror for the North American Car of the Year award. Carney covers the industry from the increasingly strategic location of Washington, DC.