Mazda’s Kai Concept Could Preview Upcoming Mazda3

Mazda used its home market’s auto show to wow the automotive world with a concept that’s likely to become the best-looking hatchback on the market today.

The Kai concept, which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show last week, is a preview of what to expect from the upcoming Mazda3. That long hood and sculpted body are unlike any other hatch available and invoke the spirit of Grand Tourers from the past.

Why, however, would Mazda give this concept such graceful rear-wheel-drive proportions when it’s on a front-wheel-drive platform? There are other indications that the concept isn’t quite ready for prime time, but they’re minor enough to be modified for an upcoming production version. Will it happen?

The design of the Kai concept is stunning. Car and Driver said,

The exterior shows an evolution of Mazda’s Kodo design language, which we’ve already seen developing on the latest CX-9 and CX-5. The compact hatchback shows a long front end with a slanted hood, an assertive overbite, and a U-shaped grille piece that cuts into the headlights. The body is free of creases or pinched panels; instead, there are smooth sides that flow into an egglike cabin. The rear looks wide and features angry-looking taillights and dual exhaust outlets. Concept elements including thin side mirrors, massive wheels, and retractable door handles are unlikely to go into production at the 3’s price point, but the Kai otherwise looks like it could roll off assembly lines without many changes.

Not only is this future Mazda absolutely stunning, it also includes Mazda’s next-gen SkyActiv-X gasoline spark-controlled compression ignition (SPCCI) engine. Mazda says this would be the first commercial use of the new technology, which uses gas but has the efficiency of a diesel.

Inside, the Kai’s seats are said to support a person’s natural spine position and keep the driver connected to the driving experience.

Will this concept become the next Mazda3? Aside from those thick rear pillars and razor-thin rear-view mirrors, all signs point to yes.

Will Mazda’s new design tempt you to take a test-drive in a Mazda3?


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