After presenting three ground-breaking and widely-acclaimed concept vehicles during the 2005-2006 global motor show season - Sassou at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, Senku at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show and Kabura at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show - Mazda's global design team begun the process of evolving Mazda's design architecture for the next generation of Zoom-Zoom vehicle design.
The first of these next-generation concept vehicles, penned Nagare, was introduced at the November 2006 Greater Los Angeles International Auto Show and heralded the emergence of a new design language - one which was focused on capturing the "emotion of motion" in new surface design characteristics.
Like all Mazda products, Nagare has the soul of a sports car. Its sleek shape and purposeful stance suggest exhilarating sports car performance and aerodynamically efficiency expected of an urban cruiser for the future.
Wheels are positioned at the far corners of the envelope for quick steering response and agile manoeuvrability.
Access to the four-seat interior is provided by two double-length doors that hinge forward and up like the wings of a butterfly.
The driver is centrally located, like a single-seat sports racer, for optimum control and visibility. Since the driver is positioned under the highest portion of the roof, there's ample headroom with a comfortably reclined backrest.
Innovative seating arrangements have become recognised as an area of Mazda expertise, as witnessed by the successful RX-8 four-passenger sports car and the insightful Karakuri remote seat-fold mechanism on hatch and wagon cargo packaging.
Nagare's rear compartment is a wrap-around lounge offering relaxed accommodations for three passengers. The central front seat and expansive door opening facilitate easy entry to the surprisingly roomy interior.
Nagare's side surfaces provide a means of visualising the air flowing along and over the car as it speeds through the atmosphere. Light and shadow combine to convey this feeling of motion even when the car is still. Similar hints of this design fluidity are evident through the bonnet, wheel arches, LED head- and tail-lamp treatments.
The same surface language plays throughout Nagare's interior; the instrument panel, center console, and door panels all appear to be influenced by flow.
On presenting this ground-breaking concept, Frank von Holzhausen, Director of Design Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) notes that, "Beauty is not a clean sheet of paper. Nagare's motion-influenced surface texture compliments its dynamic attributes. Because of Mazda's sporty essence, we never wrap our customers in boxes. Our new surface language is car-centric. After studying the architectural approach, which tends to be strictly rigid, and the organic approach, which is highly fluid, we created Nagare to straddle those two disciplines. It is fluid, graceful, and dynamic. But the message it registers on the beholder is flow-motion."
Recognising that an advanced design concept needs an advanced powertrain, Nagare could conceivably be powered by a hydrogen-fuelled rotary engine. Mazda's work on this advanced driveline technology is among the most advanced in the world, with hydrogen/gasoline-fuelled rotaries powering RX-8s currently in service in Japan and under evaluation in Scandanavia.