Kai Concept Shows Driving and Design Matter at Mazda

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Not content stealing the show with its gorgeous Vision Coupe concept, Mazda revealed another heart-stopping design study at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

This blood-red hatchback is the Kai, which is a real beauty from every angle. If you were wondering what the next-generation Mazad3 will look like – and likely other models form the Hiroshima-based car company – this is probably a strong indication. The future is bright, Mazda fans.

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Built on a Skyactiv-Vehicle architecture, this five-door hatchback features a more mature expression of Kodo, the firm’s design theme since 2010. Dripping with elegance, the proportions are more muscular than current Mazdas, with the body taking advantage of light and shadow to create an extra shot of visual interest.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Tokyo Motor Show Coverage

Theoretically, the Kai should also be quieter, ride more comfortably and offer improved dynamics compared to production Mazdas. But as always, this concept “car” has more in common with a plastic storage tub than a real, salable vehicle. But still, we don’t doubt the company’s intentions, or its vehicle-development capabilities.

Underhood, Kai is motivated by Hiroshima’s groundbreaking new Skyactiv-X engine. In certain driving situations, this powerplant operates on compression ignition, kind of like a diesel, which is the holy grail of gasoline internal-combustion.

While incredibly tricky to manage, compression ignition results in a complete, clean burn and an estimated 20 to 30 percent improvement in fuel economy, which is HUGE. No, really, it’s practically like Mazda engineers found Atlantis or sorted out faster-than-light travel. Hopefully this powerplant, and the sexy new Kai make it to production sooner than later.

For Mazda, the Zoom-Zoom brand, driving has always mattered. But with the Kai and Vision Coupe concepts, going forward it appears that design is every bit as important. They’ve proven that affordable cars can also be lustworthy.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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