The Tokyo Show did have some interesting concept cars, and some which herald the next model. Manufacturers often slide prospective new models in to see whether the public are excited, and more importantly, would they buy it.
The 3 is the best-selling Mazda small car, the new generation of which is expected to reach production in 2019.
Billed as the “ideal combustion-engine-powered car” by Mazda Motor Corporation (MMC) president and CEO Masamachi Kogai, the Kai concept is built on the Japanese brand’s new SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture and is powered by its pioneering SkyActiv-X spark-less compression-ignition engine.
“This compact hatchback concept embodies everything Mazda is aiming for in its next generation of models,” Mr Kogai said at the Kai’s unveiling in Tokyo.
Yasutake Tsuchida, the designer said, “What we intended with this introduction of this car is that we wanted to imbue it with more of the sporty feel than you would expect in a hatchback
“And what I feel, and what we hoped to express, in this car design was that it was not what you would have seen in the previous generations, very juvenile and ‘fresh’ – that is what we had before.
“But with this one, I’m hoping, and it was certainly the intention, to have more sporty, mature design for this car.”
From the front, the Kai concept has slim headlights and Mazda’s prominent grille, while its front-wheel-drive layout is pointed to with exaggerated front guards.
Giving the Kai concept a more seamless look, the front windscreen extends to the roof where the top body panel partitions the driver’s and passenger’s glass ceiling.
From behind, the Kai concept has a high-riding bumper with integrated dual exhaust pipes for a squat stance, and aggressively styled tail-lights.
The wheel arches house 20 inch alloys measuring nine inches wide and using low profile 245/35 rubber, with large drilled brake discs.
Measuring 4420 mm long, 1855 mm wide and 1375 mm high, the Kai concept is 50 mm shorter and 90 mm lower than the current Mazda3 hatchback, but is also 60 mm wider. It also has a 50 mm longer wheelbase.
When it arrives in production form, the next-generation Mazda3 will be the first vehicle built on the brand’s new SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture, which will be spread across the company’s range of passenger cars, SUVs and sports models.
This new platform is designed to lower noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, according to Mazda.
While still too far out to confirm exact specifications, the new Mazda3 is expected to carry over the current model’s SkyActiv-G 2.0- and 2.5-liter direct-injection petrol engines with minor updates and will be topped by the new compression-ignition SkyActiv-X powerplant.