design language

Lancia is one of those old Italian car companies that had its glory days many decades ago and then faded into obscurity, though not vanishing totally. After being independent in its first 56 years, it became part of the Fiat group in 1969. As the Fiat group is now part of Stellantis, Lancia has become a division which has continued to sell its cars but only in the Italian market.

However, Stellantis sees Lancia as a brand that can be revived and brought to greater heights. It is therefore embarking on a new era with a new design vision. This design vision – Lancia Pu+Ra Design – is previewed in the Pu+Ra Zero, a 3-dimensional ‘manifesto’ that will guide the designers of the 3 new Lancia models to be launched between 2024 and 2028.


With the VISION 7S concept, Skoda is providing a preview of an all-new battery electric SUV as well as the Czech brand’s new design language. There is also a new brand logo which no longer uses sculptural 3D graphics, a response to a growing shift in marketing activities from print to online.

The 7-seater VISION 7S SUV, which is 3 to 4 years from appearing in Skoda showrooms, sits on the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electrification Kit (MEB). Proposed with an 89 kWh battery pack, it has a projected range of over 600 kms.

With the new design language comes the ‘Tech-Deck Face’ at the front end with a a solid underbody and aerodynamic roof lines. The Tech Deck Face embodies a modern reinterpretation of the familiar Skoda grille. Though it has similar lines, the appearance is significantly flatter and wider than the previous styling. The ribs have been replaced by dark glass that conceals the vehicle’s sensors.

The redesigned SKODA wordmark replaces the brand’s picturemark and is complemented by a new ambient light strip. This extends across the entire width of the vehicle at the upper edge of the front section and features illuminated graphics.

The robust bumpers are made of durable, recycled tyres. This material is also used for the wheelarch linings and adds a rugged visual highlight. Seven vertical air intakes are integrated into the front, through which air is directed to the cooling systems and brakes, and another nine vertical air outlets are in the rear bumper.

A control element in bright Flashy Orange is located in the centre of both the front and rear. These can be pulled out to serve as hooks. In addition, they can be used to safely cut off the vehicle’s high-voltage current from the outside, if required.

A high tornado line separates the solid underbody from the side windows and emphasises the powerful shoulder sections through its curve. The squared-off wheel arches beneath it are prominent and clearly recessed. Within them, the wheels are aerodynamically optimized rims and almost completely closed.

Additional air outlets are positioned between the wheel arches and above the side skirts. These act as running boards for the portal doors that swing up in opposite directions and also have cover grilles. These grilles channel the warm air generated from cooling the high-voltage battery pack to the outside.

The flat roofline gently slopes to the rear and merges with a pronounced roof spoiler for high aerodynamic efficiency. The triangular D-pillar extending to the rear features a bold design; at the bottom, it bears the new SKODA wordmark, which also appears on the tailgate and is lit up in the same way as at the front of the vehicle.


The minimalistic interior is as spacious as the exterior proportions of the Skoda concept suggest. The sense of security further enhanced by the combination of dark and light materials. These are leather-free (mostly from sustainable sources) and are extremely durable, thanks to some smart material combinations.

One example is the floor, which is also made from recycled tyres. The interior trim is also sustainable and coated with a fine, matt metallic layer, thus conserving valuable resources. The fabrics are made of 100% recycled polyester yarns.

Great emphasis was placed on further optimising usability. In addition, the vehicle’s menu structure and infotainment functions have been streamlined, and the controls on the central, free-standing touchscreen, as well as haptic keys for important or frequently used functions, are particularly intuitive.

In front of the central screen on the instrument cluster is a large crystal that indicates the battery and charging status using different colours. This can be seen easily from outside the Skoda SUV.

The position of the childseat may seem unsuitable from the safety point of view but it is actually in the safest place in the vehicle. It is integrated into the centre console, which extends to the second row of seats, opposite to the direction of travel. This means the child is optimally protected, and the passengers in the second row can always keep an eye on him or her.

An optional interior camera in the rear roof area can also transmit a video of the child to the central infotainment display. This makes it possible for the driver and front passenger to see the little ones on board at all times.

The VISION 7S also introduces a new series of ‘Simply Clever’ features, well known in Skodas. For example, the air vents on the dashboard work in a discreet, diffuse mode until more direct ventilation is needed. Passengers will also find magnetic surfaces under the floating centre console, where metal Skoda drink bottles or a first-aid kit can be securely attached. There are also backpacks that are magnetically attached to the seat backrests, easily taken off when leaving the vehicle for a hike.

“The VISION 7S is the forerunner of our new design language that we’ll be rolling out across the entire product portfolio over the coming years. We’ll also be using it to sharpen our customer appeal; with the new styling, we are taking the brand to the next level and aligning it to our customers’ new needs and expectations, particularly regarding UX (user experience), connectivity and the entire customer journey,” said Martin Jahn, Skoda Auto Board Member for Sales and Marketing.


Acura, Honda’s brand of premium models mainly sold in North America, is transitioning to a new design language and a preview of this is given in the Precision EV Concept unveiled in California this week. This is the brand’s third design concept since 2016.

Created by the Acura Design Studio in Los Angeles, the SUV concept model showcases a future vision of electrified vehicles with distinct manual and full driving automation experiences. Its design focuses on performance through design, with inspiration drawn from luxury Italian powerboats.

A special feature is the theatrical lighting approach that previews an electrified powertrain through a dramatic illuminated evolution of Acura’s Diamond Pentagon grille, Chicane DRL signature and new ‘Particle Glitch’ lighting on the front and rear facias.

Dual driving modes
Inspired by the cockpit of a Formula 1 racing car are the low-slung driving position, high-performance driver sightlines and a 2-grip yoke-style steering wheel. The interior space of the Precision EV concept features dual experiences – an Instinctive Drive mode for the performance experience and a calming Spiritual Lounge mode during autonomous operation.

The Instinctive Drive mode elevates the dynamic connection with the car with racing-style digital instrumentation and invigorating red ambient and pipe lighting. In Spiritual Lounge mode, the steering wheel retracts and as it does so, the cabin transforms into a warm, calming experience with soothing scents and restful ‘underwater’ animated projection so the driver and occupants can relax and recharge.

The SUV cabin is crafted with sustainable, environmentally-responsible materials creating premium, unique finishes including marbled recycled plastic trim and 100% biomass leather. All the aluminium used, as well as the dimensional green cast acrylic that forms the steering wheel secondary controls, were made from recycled materials. Milled FSC certified wood, harvested from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits, adds warmth and a connection to nature.

Next-generation HMI
The Precision EV Concept also previews the next generation of Acura HMI (Human-Machine Interface) with an intuitive and easy to use hyper-wide, curved transparent display and haptic touch response. ‘Particle Glitch’ boot-up graphics mirror the signature exterior detail, visually harmonizing the experience.

“As the definition of premium and performance evolves to include the application of sustainable materials, we are looking at new and innovative material technologies to inspire our customers while both reducing our carbon footprint and enabling the Acura brand to reshape the perception of quality,” said Gypsy Modina, Principal Designer – colour, materials and finish..

“The Precision EV Concept is a look into our future direction and continues the Acura Precision Crafted Performance design language with a modern expression of performance” said Dave Marek, Acura Executive Creative Director. “The Acura Precision EV Concept will be our ‘North Star’ as we move into an exciting electrified future, and you will see these design cues translate over to future production models.”

Over the 100 years that it has been part of the Ford Group, Lincoln has offered luxury models in the same way that Cadillac has done for General Motors. This year, on its 100th anniversary (it was actually founded in 1917), the company is showing how its products will look as it moves ahead in the new era of electric vehicles (EVs).

The new design language which Lincoln cars of the future will use will maintain the core tenets of beauty, human, gliding and sanctuary. “As Lincoln enters the next chapter in our transition to a zero-emissions future, the Lincoln Star Concept will lead the way for our portfolio of fully electric vehicles. It is an excellent example of how we are redefining luxury for the next generation as we work to transform the vehicle into a third space – a true place of sanctuary – for our clients,” said Joy Falotico, President of Lincoln, when introducing the company’s new concept car.

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

The new design language is applied inside and out, with thoughtful design details, connected experiences and clever solutions to create the ultimate sanctuary for customers who travel in the Star Concept.

A study of experiences
“Electrification is removing many traditional vehicle design constraints, allowing us to reimagine what a vehicle can be,” said Anthony Lo, Chief Design Officer, Ford Motor Company. “The Lincoln Star is a study of experiences and themes that push the boundaries of Lincoln design – and it’s just the start.”

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

Relating to the evolved design language of Lincoln, the silhouette is sleek and dynamic, expanded to create a striking effect. Whether stationary or in motion, the concept uses design, light, displays, scents and sounds to create an immersive experience for the occupants. Intelligent technology that enhances comfort, productivity and entertainment is deployed throughout to bring the romance of travel back in a uniquely Lincoln way.

Using light in a modern new way
The designers worked to create harmony throughout by using light in a modern new way. Illuminated crystallines, plus backlit doors, seats and exterior features elevate the architectural space to create the ultimate sanctuary. The new Lincoln star on the fascia lights up like a jewel – greeting clients upon approach while giving new meaning to the Lincoln Embrace welcome sequence.

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

Under the floor, the company’s rear and all-wheel-drive flexible BEV architecture and next-generation Lincoln Intelligence System make possible the new design thinking and connected experiences proposed in the concept. The flexible architecture means engineers and designers will be able to reimagine the additional interior space in new and exciting ways.

Lincoln Intelligence System
The new Lincoln Intelligence System takes the definition of ‘digital assistant’ to a new dimension, enabling experiences such as connected vehicle-to-vehicle and infrastructure capabilities. These would include next-generation driver-assist features such as ‘Help Me See’ and ‘Park for Me’.

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

A reimagined sanctuary
Both in design and colour composition, the interior is uniquely partitioned into first and second-row areas. The entire cabin experience in both rows is premium, with extra-spacious wraparound seating, reclined lounge posture, individual lounge legrests and curated storage for devices and slippers. A luxurious glass beverage chiller is neatly integrated between the back seats.

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

The feeling of spaciousness is enhanced with 3D-printed metal latticework on the A-pillar along the windshield and the D-pillar at the back window of the Lincoln Star Concept – visible from the inside out. These transparent pillars, along with a full skylight with digital shade, invites natural light in to enhance the open, airy feel of the space.

A full-width curved horizontal display creates a digital panorama in which content flows seamlessly into an integrated centre control screen, then into the second-row screen. New materials such as leather and chrome alternatives and several unique finishes work in harmony to create a modern, luxurious experience.

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

Three rejuvenation moods join a new Lincoln Embrace sequence harmonizing audio, scenting and lighting throughout the cabin. A symphonic orchestration with crisp, high-resolution animations on the displays creates an immersive digital sanctuary. Whether stuck in traffic or just enjoying a few quiet moments after work, the rejuvenation moods provide a true sanctuary in a third space:

The three moods are built around the human body’s natural circadian rhythm of morning, day and evening. With the help of connected technology, the moods will offer content updates and ways for the occupants to personalize their settings into the future.

‘Boot’ at the front
The area no longer occupied by a combustion engine is converted into a front storage compartment, helping to liberate more space in the cabin. With electro-chromatic glass that changes from transparent to opaque, the front compartment is instantly recognizable, allowing light in when the car is in motion and darkening to hide stored valuables when parked. Underneath, illuminated first-row floors flow uninterrupted into the interior, creating an airy, open cabin.

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

A wing-shaped floating instrument panel, inspired by aircraft ailerons, emphasizes horizontal balance and equilibrium, while the Lincoln one-touch pedal is used for easy driving. The interior also features Lincoln Attache, a digital briefcase concept with a hidden compartment in the rear coach door that not only provides safe storage of tablets and laptops, but does double duty as a charge pad for devices and can seamlessly detect incoming wireless content. Finally, a reimagined rear cargo space features a lounge mode that transforms into a cozy, indulgent outdoor seat to bring the destination closer.

Lincoln plans to deliver three new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) which will account for more than half of its global volume, and it will add a fourth model by the end of 2026.

2022 Lincoln Star Concept BEV

Audi urbansphere concept shows what the luxury MPV of the future could be like

BMW’s largest SUV, the X7 (G07), has received an update after 4 years in the market (3 years in Malaysia) and it comes with a new frontal appearance that we should be seeing on the next generation of the 7-Series which will make its debut very soon.

The main feature of the new look is the split headlight design that is a key element in BMW’s new design language. This is the first time that split headlight units have been employed for DRLs (which also function as turn indicators) as well  as main beams. The low-beam/high-beam headlights are separate LED units below the DRLs. The headlights have adaptive matrix capability to customise the spread of light for maximum illumination without dazzling oncoming drivers.

2022 BMW X7

Current BMW X7.

2022 BMW X7

2022 BMW X7

The updated front-end also has an ‘Iconic Glow’ kidney grille with understated cascade lighting for the two grille elements. The illumination is activated when one of the doors is opened and while on the move (but it be switched off if not desired). At the rear, the L-shaped light strips are said to generate significantly greater intensity so they can double up as brake lights and the light units can therefore be kept extremely slim.

2022 BMW X7

Within the huge bodyshell of the X7, the three rows of seats have new seat surfacing and bolder  colour combinations. For most variants, there is a sport leather steering wheel with shifter paddles, 4-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, panoramic glass sunroof, Harman/Kardon audio, heated comfort seats for the driver and front passenger and Comfort Access.

As with some other models in this class, the dashboard is dominated by displays. In the case of the X7, the BMW Curved Display is made up of a 12.3-inch information display behind the steering wheel and a control display with a 14.9-inch screen. The two screens, which extend to two-thirds of the width. merge into one high-resolution display unit behind a single glass surface. While the panel orientation is curved towards the driver, the front passenger can also view the screen and operate the iDrive 8 system.

2022 BMW X7

The dashboard surface is now made from Sensafin, a high-quality, vegan surface material with leather-like properties has exclusive three-dimensional quilting and surface perforation.

The instrument panel has an extremely slim form, its horizontal structure emphasising the width of the interior. A new ambient light bar makes its debut below the interior trim strip in the front passenger area. It has a crystalline surface structure and effective backlighting with the use of LED units. The light distribution, brightness and colour for the interior illumination can be configured with a choice of 15 colours.

With all seats in use, there’s 326 litres of cargo volume and depending on whether the second and third row are folded down, the capacity can be expanded to a maximum 2,120 litres. To simplify loading, the standard air suspension can be lowered at the touch of a button. The tailgate is split, with both sections opening and closing automatically. The advantage of this 2-section tailgate is that you don’t need to always raise a large door just to put in smaller items.

The Sky Lounge sunroof is made up of 3 glass section spanning the length of the roof. All the roof elements have an electrically sliding headliner and its 15,000 graphic patterns can generate a display reminiscent of a starlit sky. This is a Starlight Headliner which first appeared in Rolls-Royce models many years ago.

2022 BMW X7

The X7 continues to use a range of engines from the new modular generation of the BMW Group Efficient Dynamics family. However, it remains as a hybrid rather than plug-in hybrid powertrain. The range is headed by a new 4.4-litre petrol V8 for the X7 M60i xDrive. Joining it are newly-developed 3-litre, 6-cylinder in-line units in the petrol X7 xDrive40i and diesel X7 xDrive40d. The current X7 assembled in Malaysia is the xDrive40i variant and it is likely that this will remain the case with the updated version.

The new 3-litre petrol engine of the xDrive40i has been improve in many areas and maximum output has been increased by 47 bhp to 380 bhp, while peak torque rises by 70 Nm to 520 Nm and can be boosted to as much 540 Nm by the 48V mild hybrid system.

2022 BMW X7

2022 BMW X7

The 8-speed Steptronic transmission is a new unit, used for the first time in the X7. Gear transitions are quicker and there’s a Launch Control function as well as a new Sprint function when a quick burst of speed is required. With the Sprint function, the transmission automatically shifts into the lowest usable gear and the powertrain and chassis systems switch to their sportiest settings. For maximum performance, the hybrid system’s electric boost is also activated.

Power goes to all 4 wheels via the efficient and intelligent xDrive system with rear-wheel-drive bias. It uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case interlinked with the powertrain and chassis systems to distribute power between the front and rear wheels as required.

2022 BMW X7

The X7 now comes with adaptive two-axle air suspension with electronically controlled dampers as standard. The dampers respond adaptively both to road surface conditions as well as driving style. The various Driving Experience Control modes also give a more sporty or a more comfortable basic damper setting.

Thanks to the link-up with the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, the vehicle load registered by the air suspension sensors can be factored into braking modulation. When the X7 exceeds 140 km/h, or the Driving Experience Control mode is set to Sport, the body is automatically lowered, increasing stability and reducing aerodynamic drag. Ride height can be lowered in 2 stages and by up to 20 mm.

2022 BMW X7

New variants for locally-assembled BMW X3 and X4

CUPRA, the high-performance subsidiary of Spanish carmaker SEAT, has revealed the design language that will be used for its urban electric vehicle (EV). Instead of just sketches, the company has built a full-sized prototype which it calls the CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept that will be displayed at the IAA Munich International Motor Show this month.

The CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept is designed as a racing car to push the limits in a radical interpretation of an urban electric car. Having a racing car as the basis for the design is because Racing is at the core of CUPRA’s DNA.

2021 CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept

New electric car to be launched in 2025
“The CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept is a radical interpretation of the company’s urban electric car, due to be launched in 2025. This racing concept gives an idea of the design language of the future street-car and will inspire its creation” said Wayne Griffiths, CEO of CUPRA. “It builds on the design foundations of the 100% electric urban vehicle, that will be launched in 2025.”

This racing version will influence the road version of the urban electric car, but the core elements are enhanced to give the vehicle an even more rebellious character. At the front, the shark nose was created using a negative surface. The front face is also emphasized by the new triangular signature in the headlamps.

Its wraparound window graphic generates the visual effect of a helmet – as in the CUPRA Tavascan Concept – and gives continuity between the windows around the whole car to deliver the effect of a floating roof.

2021 CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept

Moving to the side, the car shows athletic proportions, thanks to the wedge line – from the C-pillar to the front door – with diagonal sculptural surfaces., that create tensional contrast. The rear view of shows athletic shoulders, in a new interpretation of the design seen in the CUPRA Formentor.

Influence from virtual world
The rear features an iconic design, thanks to horizontal proportions. On top of that, the large spoiler – usually seen on racing cars seen in the virtual world – gives it an imposing sharp look underlined by the negative surface beneath it.

2021 CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept

“The CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept injects a gamification look to the racing car, projecting a radical interpretation of the company’s urban electric car,” said Jorge Diez, CUPRA Design Director. “Each contoured line and sculpted surface in the design is brought to life by a livery that uses kinetic particles to add movement to the surface as light shifts across it.”

2021 CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept

Volkwagen MEB platform for EVs
The car’s overall length is 4080 mm, with a width of 1795 mm and height of 1444 mm, which makes is slightly larger than a Volkswagen Polo but smaller than a Golf. It sits on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB (modular electric drive matrix) platform engineered for EVs. The output for the concept car is said to be 250 kW of continuous power and up to 320 kW at its peak. The factory claim for the 0 to 100 km/h sprint is 3.2 seconds.

Volkswagen Group MEB platform designed for electric vehicles.

The CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept is more than just a preview of a new model for CUPRA. It also involves the rest of the Volkswagen Group, which SEAT is part of. “The urban electric car is a key strategic project not only for our company, but also for the Volkswagen Group, as our aim is to produce more than 500,000 urban electric cars per year in the Martorell factory in Spain for different Group brands. The urban electric car will democratise and make accessible electromobility to the masses,” said Griffiths.

2021 CUPRA UrbanRebel Concept

SEAT to use CUPRA high-performance brand for first electric car

Vision Starburst, Geely Design Shanghai’s latest concept car, shows a new design vision derived from Geely’s ‘Expanding Cosmos’ design philosophy. It continues to draw inspiration from the universe, something which Geely associated itself with when it introduced its original brand logo in 1997. The outer blue circle of the logo was said to symbolize that which lies beyond infinity and the universe.

The Vision Starburst examines a new and alternative expression of the ‘Expanding Cosmos’ design philosophy which Geely Auto is using as a design board for future models. The inspiration comes from the stellar phenomena where brilliant nebulas and magnificent elements come together, merging, fusing and finally bursting into new stars. ‘Every new design concept is the result of the combination, fusion, and eruption of different ideas which become new star products that enrich the market’, explains Geely.

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

Pushing boundaries of technology and innovation
Elaborating further, Guy Burgoyne, Vice-President of Geely Design Shanghai, said: “The ‘Expanding Cosmos’ philosophy serves as a constant inspiration for our designers to discover a new and holistic design language that satisfies our ever-expanding and increasingly-diverse range of customers. In search for this DNA in the new digital age, we have pushed the boundaries of technology and innovation. Like the birth of a new star, the ideas from our talented team of global designers combined, fused, and erupted, resulting in the birth of a new design expression, a new vision, our Vision Starburst.”

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

Geely Shanghai designers cooperated throughout the design process to create unity between exterior and interior, colour and materials, as well as car and user. In the conceptual design form, bursting energy and constant outward tension result in a twisted profile with curved surfaces that appear to rotate and stretch. In its details, the design takes inspiration from stellar rays and waves in the folding and crossing of lines and surfaces.

Like ‘energy releasing from a starburst’
The most visually striking aspect of Vision Starburst starts at the sight of the front grille and air intake vents. The front grille has dramatically changed from previous Geely Auto designs; Vision Starburst’s sharp and unique new parabolic pattern, in combination with the new lighting design, creates an effect which echoes the theme of energy releasing from a starburst.

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

The concept that headlamps are the eyes of a vehicle has also been overturned as Geely designers imagine future vehicles seen through high-tech sensors. The whole vehicle visually extends from the centre towards the sides, up and down, giving the front face of the vehicle a more powerful and three-dimensional aura.

The concept car’s waistline, door panels intertwine and integrate, sharp lines make for bold shapes while hiding a hint of the concept’s grand vision of infinity, another dimension which has had an influence on Geely’s designs.

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

Borderless visual experience within
Moving inside, the interior door panels are also designed to match the characteristics of the exterior. ‘Cosmic Ray’ light strips help to unify interior and exterior design. On top of the floating centre console, the shifter takes on an aerodynamic geometric shape that’s hollow. Four lines of light illuminate to display different gear settings.

Instruments in the Vision Starburst meld with the ambient light on the dash and door panels to create a borderless visual experience. Borderless instruments and seamless information transmission also redefine the way users interact with vehicles. The designers imagine the whole vehicle being capable of conveying vehicle and road information, increasing safety and bringing to life a whole new sensory experience for users.

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

The concepts of showcasing advanced technology and mobility have been applied to the illuminated wheel arches. Different lighting effects will highlight Vision Starburst while in different states, for example while charging, in motion, parking, etc.

Lighting gives sense of speed
Holistic HMI (Human-Machine Interface) inside and out is one of the major design focuses of the Vision Starburst concept. Like the exterior, the interior ambient lighting, sound, and atmosphere also change depending on the state of the vehicle, conveying information to the users in a whole new manner. The lighting interaction from the outside in, gives users a sense of speed and a new driving experience.

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

2021 Geely Vision Starburst concept

Although the Vision Starburst concept itself is not intended to become a production model, many aspects of the new design language will be taken and applied to future Geely Auto models. Perhaps some may even be considered for adaptation in Proton models too although the Malaysian brand has its own design philosophy as well.

BHPetrol RON95 Euro4M

Mazda’s design philosophy – Kodo: Soul of Motion – is 10 years old, having been introduced at the Los Angeles Motor Show in 2010 with the Shinari concept car. It was a preview of how forthcoming Mazda models would look and represented a bold new direction for design at Mazda.

The word ‘Kodo’ literally translates as ‘heartbeat’, but with the added meaning of filling something with life; of giving it a soul. This idea is central to the way Mazda has always thought about design. “In Japan, we feel that craftsmen inject life into what they make. We believe that a form sincerely and painstakingly made by human hands gets a soul,” explained Ikuo Maeda, Head of Mazda Design. Therefore, ‘Soul of Motion’ takes on a double meaning, expressing both the essence of motion and the ‘soul’ imbued in the car by Mazda’s master craftsmen.

Mazda Shinari concept

Mazda Shinari

The Minagi concept which became the first CX-5 (below).

The Shinari 4-door sports coupe concept was followed in 2011 with another example of Kodo Design, the Minagi compact crossover SUV concept which later evolved into the highly successful CX-5.

Inspired by the beauty and power of nature allied with the emotion of motion, the first Kodo designs were strongly inspired by the image of a cheetah about to pounce. Mazda designers closely observed how these powerful mammals used their entire body as a spring to convert pent-up energy into highly controlled motion.

From the Shinari came the Mazda6.

Takeri and Hazumi concepts
After the Shinari and Minagi concepts came the Takeri and Hazumi concepts which carried the same expression of motion that focused on the strength, beauty and tension found in the instantaneous movement seen in animals.

The Takeri offered a new level of strength and allure to the future of Mazda’s sedan styling, while the Hazumi (meaning ‘to bound’ or ‘spring up’ in Japanese) used Kodo Design to characterize the personality of a small but vigorous animal bursting with energy for Mazda’s next generation B-segment car.

Mazda Hazumi concept

Mazda Takeri concept

Minimalist approach
A turning point for Kodo Design was reached with the RX-Vision and Vision Coupe which evoked a powerful and emotional design with as few elements as possible. Introduced at the 2015 and 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, respectively, both concepts anticipated the new elegance and yet more pronounced minimalist aesthetic of an updated interpretation of Kodo Design. Dynamic and emotional forms are achieved by shaving off any unnecessary elements to bring out the very essence of beauty and motion.

Mazda Vision concept
Mazda Vision concept

Mazda Vision Coupe concept
Mazda Vision Coupe concept

From Kai to Mazda3
From this point onwards, Mazda designers sought to create beauty and a unique elegance through taking visual components away, not adding more. Launched in 2019, the latest generation Mazda3 was inspired by the Kai Concept and was the first vehicle to showcase the evolution in Kodo Design. It presented a more mature rendition targeting greater styling prestige through the elegance and rigor of a minimalist, less-is-more aesthetic inspired by the purest traditions of Japanese art and the beauty of space between objects.

Mazda Kai concept
Mazda Kai concept

2020 Mazda3 Sedan

With the latest Kodo Design, which is in the current Mazda3, every element serves a purpose; nothing is superfluous or purely ornamental. Three concepts were instrumental in this design progression: Yohaku or ma, the beauty of empty space; sori, or curves with poise and balance; and utsuroi, the play of light and shadow.

For example, by eliminating character lines, an empty space is created on the vehicle’s smooth side panels and functions as a blank, endlessly changing canvas for the play of light and shadow – a special skill of Mazda designers. As the car moves through space, the change of light and shade creates a dynamic and fluid aspect with the ‘Soul of Motion’ played out on the side of the car.

It took hundreds of hours of painstaking clay sculpting and painting work to develop the Mazda3’s design that creates subtle undulations of light and shadows gliding over the car’s smooth body. It is fundamental to the uniquely Japanese elegance of Mazda’s next-generation design vision.

Mazda CX-30

Change and Release for CX-30
The CX-30 was developed to follow this design concept with exterior styling that has suppleness and the flowing elegance of a coupe combined with the toughness of an SUV. The vitality of Kodo Design is retained, with a new ‘Charge and Release’ design expression inspired by the brushwork used in Japanese calligraphy.

In particular, Sori is clearly embodied in the arc of the shoulder running from the front wing to the rear wheel, giving a sense of speed and vitality. Utsuroi may be seen in the body surfaces beneath the shoulder line, which reflect the surroundings in a distinctive ‘S’ shape that changes as the car moves.

Kodo Design
Mazda has used Kodo Design philosophy in other products like clothes, furniture, tableware and even a bicycle (below). Some of these items have been displayed at the Milan Design Week.

Award winner
Since its inception 10 years ago, Mazda’s Kodo Design philosophy has been praised and recognized by many awards. Both the RX-Vision and the Vision Coupe have been named the ‘Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year’ and the revamped Mazda MX-5 won the ‘World Car Design Award’ in 2015.

Ikuo Maeda, Head of Mazda Design, is the ‘father of Kodo Design’. His father was the man who designed the original RX-7.

More recently, the Mazda CX-30 and the new MX-30 have won a Red Dot Award 2020 in the Product Design category, while the Mazda3 was named ‘World Car Design of the Year’ in the 2020 World Car Awards.  Ikuo Maeda himself has also been recognized with the Design Hero accolade earlier this year by Britain’s Autocar magazine.

The simplistic elegance and emotional appeal of Kodo Design will remain essential ingredients of the brand’s identity. After 10 years of sustained success, Kodo Design continues to push the limits of car design and define the future of Mazda. When asked if Kodo Design will be replaced by another design philosophy, Maeda told this writer: “As far as I am concerned, Kodo Design will be forever!”.

Visit www.mazda.com.my to know more about the wide range of Mazda models in Malaysia


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