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29/11/2011 700

Mazda - MX-Flexa

Original name: マツダ MX-Flexa


Mazda's Combination of Styling, Functionality and Flexibility Arrives Geneva with 'Mazda MX-Flexa' Concept

GENEVA, March 2, 2004– Mazda Motor Corporation confidently heads into the 74th Geneva International Motor Show with the world debut of its newest concept vehicle, the MX-Flexa. The six-seat Mazda space wagon concept, the fifth concept vehicle presented by the Japanese automaker in the past six months, demonstrates one possible direction Mazda could take for a future space wagon.

"It's not by chance we chose the Geneva show to launch this important concept," said Stephen Odell, Mazda's senior managing executive officer in charge of Global Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. "The space wagon segment continues to be an important and growing segment in many markets around the world. In Europe, it has exploded in the past five years, growing in some estimations by more than 200 percent in the five largest markets. We think this is one segment where Mazda can definitely inject a little Zoom-Zoom."

Created at the Mazda Design Studio in Hiroshima under the direction Moray Callum, Mazda Design director, and Chief Designer Koji Tabata, the MX-Flexa project has been a chance for Mazda's design department to introduce some Zoom-Zoom emotion into the space wagon segment and further develop the design language for a future product. The overreaching goal was to present Geneva show-goers with a space wagon that is very solid and athletic looking, a vehicle that, in the words of the designers, "looks dynamic even when standing still." This athletic tension in design has been a theme of many recent Mazda products, including the new RX-8 and recently launched Mazda3.

The Mazda team assembled to support this concept project had a single thesis in mind as they began: successful space wagons must be able to attract new buyers with the right emotional design, a design that is not heavy-handed or over-styled, but graceful and well proportioned.

More importantly, a graceful, athletic design must be balanced with innovative packaging solutions that incorporate the practicality and ease-of-use that customers now expect from a space wagon.

One example of the new design concept's functionality is demonstrated by the E-ZZ-FOUR bike rack. This concept rack system was designed and developed specifically for the MX-Flexa and allows for up to four bikes to be easily transported at one time. The system also provides great flexibility in "how" the bikes are transported, either inside or outside the vehicle, depending on the travel situation.

"We think customers will react very positively to intuitive functionality and comfort we are presenting in the MX-Flexa," added Tabata. "At the same time, we know the real opportunity for Mazda is to push further with emotional designs and tune the vehicle with driving dynamics that make it fun to drive and also very safe. It's simple, we want people to look at the MX-Flexa and think, 'Zoom-Zoom: Yes, that's a Mazda."

The MX-Flexa concept is based on architecture borrowed from the all-new Mazda3 and modified to support the larger vehicle size and unique customer expectations. While still a concept, the MX-Flexa is tuned to meet the high expectations for Mazda driving performance, particularly in the area of overall vehicle handling.

In very specific terms, the team behind the MX-Flexa concept set out to showcase key elements that could improve Mazda's position in the growing space wagon segment, with particular emphasis on adding new levels of emotional appeal. In line with the Mazda brand DNA, the team focused on three areas:

- Design (Stylish)

- Packaging (Insightful)

- Driving Dynamics (Spirited)

'Stylish and Athletic' Design: Inside and Out

From the onset, Tabata's design team worked under the very broad guidelines of "Stylish and Athletic." While these two terms are not usually associated with the space wagon segment, the team relentlessly pursued this approach by focusing on the well-honed, new-generation Mazda design cues.

The vehicle's Sora Blue exterior, for example, relies more heavily on solid proportions and an athletic stance than on forced, artificial surface excitement. The proportions of the MX-Flexa are carefully balanced to produce an overall graceful, flowing exterior shape that communicates a sense of dynamic motion. The strong bonnet line and smoothly raked windscreen help provide a sleek overall exterior appearance.

Up front, the design team chose to present a fresh take on Mazda's traditional five-point grille.

While the five-point grille continues to be a signature element in all Mazda products, the advanced design studio continues to offer fresh interpretations of this design cue when developing concept cars. (The Mazda MX-Microsport, which was shown at the 2004 North America International Auto Show in Detroit and displayed in Geneva alongside the MX-Flexa, is another example.) Not to be mistaken or confused, however, the large Mazda "Winged M" is positioned proudly in the center of the MX-Flexa's grille.

The side view of the MX-Flexa is particularly strong, with an emphasis on the low roofline and attractive silhouette. This is the result of an effort to create an overall feeling of solidity with this vehicle. The side view is enhanced by short front and rear overhangs that compliment the sophisticated, five-spoke 18-inch wheels. The position of the wheels, in combination with the short overhangs and wide body, further express the vehicle's overall athletic, agile stance.

The team working on the interior of the MX-Flexa developed a cohesive design that communicates a certain freshness and openness. White, silver and blue surfaces were used to emphasize brightness within the interior space. And to ensure an emotional connection with consumers, the design team carefully chose materials, color schemes and forms that would exude a high level of quality and spark an emotional response. The goal: a concept interior that would equally balance utility, comfort and quality.

Their success is evident in an instrument panel, rendered in a sparkling silver finish that offers exceptional visibility and a fresh, bright appearance with its overlapping three-meter cluster. The main controls have been assembled in the instrument panel center console for improved visibility and ease of operation, while the shift lever is located in the center panel, neatly combined with the other key controls and in perfect reach of the driver.

The cabin layout of the MX-Flexa features six seats, all individual, leather-covered captain-style chairs. All six chairs are nearly identical in width to ensure almost uniform comfort throughout the cabin, even in the third row.

Smart, Innovative Packaging

The MX-Flexa concept is driven by the insight that true vehicle "usability" actually comes from "flexibility," the word from which its name derives. From Karakuri-type seats (which allow users to easily fold the seats using only one hand), to the idea of a four-door sports car, insight into "usability" has long been a key attribute of all Mazda vehicles.

With the MX-Flexa concept, this flexibility is demonstrated in the innovative E-ZZ-FOUR bike rack system. Combined with the vehicle's flexible seating—four of the six seats can be individually folded flat—the MX-Flexa can carry up to four bicycles: two inside the vehicle and two outside.

The E-ZZ-FOUR bike rack system features four sliding rails, two of which are integrated into the ceiling within the cabin and two on the roof, offering great flexibility in transporting both bikes and cargo. Bikes are attached directly to the four rails, and then slid neatly into place. One key design target of the bike rack system was to ensure clean integration into the overall vehicle design, in both the interior and the exterior.

The amount of interior space is often times a measure of a vehicle's flexibility—simply put, the more space in the cabin, the more an owner can do. Interior space, however, must always be balanced against exterior dimensions, as larger vehicles are often compromised by being harder to maneuver in tight spots and less agile in terms of driving dynamics.

With the MX-Flexa concept, Mazda presents what it believes to be the right balance between exterior dimensions and interior room. At an overall length of 4,470mm and 1,745mm wide, the concept's interior is quite generous thanks to a stretched wheelbase of 2,750mm, "tumble" angles. Overall interior space, and the feeling of roominess, is critical to any space wagon packaging, and the MX-Flexa demonstrates Mazda's capabilities.

Adding to the practicality of the MX-Flexa are dual sliding doors that offer a generous 700 mm opening on each side – an obvious advantage where ingress and egress are concerned. As well, the team made every effort to create sliding doors that are extremely easy to operate, particularly for younger children.

The seating position within the MX-Flexa has been carefully considered to maximize passenger comfort, without compromising storage space. Legroom for everyone is a priority in the MXFlexa, and even third-row passengers enjoy a sufficient room.

To meet another key target for the vehicle's packaging team, second- and third-row seats are not only comfortable, they fold quickly and easily, thereby adding to overall cabin flexibility. There's no need to remove any of the seats and store them elsewhere.

The second row of seats features Mazda's lift-and-fold approach, with the lower cushion being lifted forward and the seatback being folded down, resulting in a nearly flat cargo floor when the seats have been stored, even without removing the headrests. The two seats in the third row feature the one-touch KARAKURI function, a popular feature introduced in the Mazda6, whereby the rear-most seats can be folded by simply pulling a lever at the third-row seat back.

Additional features in the MX-Flexa include a large center console with a detachable cool/warm box. This box fits into a console between the front seats and works as an in-vehicle refrigerator.

It can also be removed and carried as a portable cooler.

The Zoom-Zoom Space Wagon

The MX-Flexa design team believes that even space wagons should deliver Mazda's signature driving dynamics: responsive, neutral handling and linear, controllable braking. Space wagons can indeed be Zoom-Zoom if they correctly balance a fun-to-drive element with the maneuverability and comfort required for city driving.

The MX-Flexa demonstrates that the emotional appeal of excellent driving dynamics represents a competitive advantage for Mazda in the hotly contested space wagon segment.

The concept vehicle features a transverse-mounted, 16-valve, 2.3-liter MZR engine—a proven powertrain well received by consumers in both the Mazda6 and Mazda3. The concept vehicle features Mazda's four-speed Activematic transmission that can be operated in automatic mode or in a pseudo-manual mode.

To support the driving dynamics targets, the development team has further refined a suspension and steering system based on the architecture of the Mazda3. With MacPherson-type struts in the front and a multi-link suspension in the rear, and anti-roll bars in both the front and rear, the specific ride and handling targets were very clear: a neutral handling vehicle with good responsiveness and solid, high-speed driving stability. The steering target was equally high: very consistent, linear and precise. The development team chose to include Mazda's electronic hydraulic power assist steering system.

As active passenger safety is directly related to good driving dynamics, Mazda has also equipped the MX-Flexa show vehicle with 235/50R-18 tires and four disc brakes.

Importance of Emotional Appeal

As the MX-Flexa concept demonstrates, Mazda believes the key to further growth and success in this segment is to combine strong emotional appeal through styling and driving dynamics with the practicality that customers rightfully expect from a space wagon. The competitor that best balances both qualities—emotional and rational appeal—will win. With the MX-Flexa, Mazda demonstrates the intensity of emotional appeal that will draw customers to a future Mazda space wagon.

Dimensions

overall length

4,470mm

overall width

1,745mm

overall height

1,650mm

wheelbase

2,750mm

tread (front/rear)

1,540mm/1,525mm

seating capacity

6

Engine

type

MZR 2.3L inline 4-cylinder

maximum power

[email protected],500rpm

maximum torque

[email protected],000rpm

Transmission

type

4EAT

Suspension

type (front/rear)

McPherson-Type Struts/Multi-link system

Brakes

type

Disc (for all wheels)

Tires and Wheels

tires

235/50-R18 (for all wheels)

wheels

8.0J (for all wheels)

 

SOURCE: Mazda

Shows

2004  Geneva

Picture places

Mazda 

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