Mazda Kabura Concept
Posted on 28 Mar 2007
The essence of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom spirit is to provide customers with stylish, insightful, spirited products capable of enriching their lives in exciting ways. At this year’s North American International Auto Show (in Detroit, Michigan), Mazda is presenting Kabura, a design concept that ventures beyond the compact sports coupe norm to explore several fresh ideas that could appear in future production models.
• To deliver the true “Soul of a Sportscar” is the essence of every Mazda, so Kabura incorporates the front-engine, rear-drive layout universally admired by driving enthusiasts and long delivered by Mazda’s MX-5 and rotary-engined sportscars.
To support youthful lifestyles, Kabura stretches the bounds of interior versatility in radical directions. Replacing the typical 2+2 layout is a clever 3+1 seating arrangement. This presents a new interior concept giving greater passenger comfort, compared to a traditional coupe, without increasing weight or size. Obligingly accommodating spur-of-the-moment adventures and impulsive shopping sprees, all passenger seats fold flat to make way for snow boards, shopping bags and all the tools of an active life.
• While Kabura has the presence of an exotic sportscar, it has the practicality and affordability that youth yearn for and can afford.
Kabura is not only the first Mazda compact coupe for the 21 st century, it’s also the first project guided by Mazda North American Operations’ (MNAO) Director of Design Franz von Holzhausen, who joined Mazda in February 2005 from GM. The 37-year-old von Holzhausen studied industrial design at Syracuse University ( New York State) and graduated from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Reinvigorating the Affordable Coupe
“With Kabura, we set out to use innovative design to rekindle the passion for driving,” notes von Holzhausen. “Our intention is to rouse the segment with some intravenous creativity. While we have no plans at the moment to build a production version of Kabura, it is not a complete flight of fancy. It embodies several innovations Mazda could implement when a compact sports coupe, steeped in Zoom-Zoom, is ready for production.”
According to a recent survey performed by a major research organisation, Mazda’s new-car customers are the second youngest in North America, with an average age of only 41 years.
Generation-Y buyers are several steps ahead of the latest trends and constantly on the lookout for affordable possessions that satisfy their hunger for stylish, insightful and spirited designs. One of Kabura’s roles is exposing a likely future design direction to today’s demanding consumers.
Power is supplied to Kabura’s rear wheels by a 2.0-litre version of Mazda’s highly respected MZR DOHC 16-valve engine. Unusually, Kabura has different size wheels and tyres – 245/35 R19 Bridgestone Potenza at the front and 245/35 R20 at the rear. While this concept has been constructed over several Mazda MX-5 chassis components, basic dimensions fall between Mazda’s MX-5 and RX-8 sportscars.
Were the Kabura design study to achieve production status, it would likely be a stand-alone product rather than an extension of any existing model line.
Von Holzhausen describes Kabura’s exterior as “a nimble-looking fuselage with a powerful stance, pronounced wheel arches and taut surfaces.” He adds , “Every line flows into another with no open ends. Surfaces are drawn tight over the wheel arches, the way a spider’s web stretches between anchor points.”
While Kabura’s profile is reminiscent of classic coupes, the windscreen and forward portion of the roof are integrated into one seamless glass surface that extends from the cowl to the B pillar. Admitting extra light enhances the interior’s feeling of airy space. Overhead portions of the glass have adjustable tinting so that the driver can twist a knob on bright days to change the roof’s opacity, as desired, from clear to completely opaque.
Behind its B-pillar, Kabura has a two-piece glass hatch. The uppermost glass panel normally lies flush. When pivoted-up by an electric motor, the way ailerons rise out of an airplane wing, this panel serves three purposes: it acts as a roof spoiler, it vents air from the interior and it greatly augments the rear passengers’ headroom. In addition, a photovoltaic solar cell in the panel helps to control ambient temperature as well as recharge the battery. The larger glass hatch panel has side-mounted hinges to provide ready access to Kabura’s spacious cargo compartment.
Creative Interior Composition
“While examining the habits and tastes of our youthful customers, we found that the majority have a need to carry one or at most two passengers in comfort, while a very small percentage actually use the fourth seat on limited occasions,” von Holzhausen continues, noting the level of research and planning that goes into the creation of a major automaker’s concept vehicle. “Clearly, the standard 2+2 compact coupe configuration with restricted rear access and limited seating space doesn’t really work in this context, so we created an innovative 3+1 layout for Kabura that resolves those shortcomings.”
A standard left-side door provides access to the driver’s cockpit and the rear jump seat. The right side is a wholly different and purposely asymmetrical arrangement. Removing the glovebox and minimisng the instrument panel allowed designers to shift the front passenger six-inches ahead of the driver’s seating position. In turn, the second passenger, sitting in tandem behind the right-front passenger, enjoys approximately the same leg, shoulder, and headroom.
Developed on the RX-Evolv and RX-01 showcars, Mazda designers invented the rear-hinged freestyle doors to improve the Mazda RX-8's rear-seat access. Kabura proves that inspiration can strike twice in pursuit of spirited, stylish design that provides customers more than they ever dreamed possible.
To maintain a sleek roofline while offering rear access that’s vastly superior to what’s available in today’s compact coupes, von Holzhausen’s team designed Kabura with an extra right-side door. After the front door is opened, touching a button slides the bonus door straight back and out of the way.
Instead of swinging on hinges as in the innovative Mazda RX-8, this additional door glides neatly into a cavity notched into the rear-quarter panel area the way a pocket door disappears into a house wall.
Form and Function Meet the Future
Building on Kabura’s innovative styling and interior packaging, von Holzhausen’s team decided that introducing a level of sustainability and recyclability was a critical part of the concept.
By partnering with Sustainable Solutions, Inc (SSI), a leader in reengineering post-industrial waste materials into quality consumer products, Mazda shows it has an eye toward the future in everything it does.
Kabura's interior is produced from SSI's innovative regenerated leather substrate. Itself produced from 100 per cent post-industrial waste – in this case, much of the waste was material recovered from the manufacturing of Nike brand athletic shoes – SSI's leather-grind is able to be dyed and printed in any colour or design and appears in Kabura as a technical yet inviting material.
Mazda KABURA Specifications
Dimensions Length 4, 050 mm
Width 1, 780 mm
Height 1, 280 mm
Wheelbase 2,550 mm
Seating capacity 4 people
Engine Type MZR 2.0 L DOHC 16-Valves
Transmission Type 6-speed manual
Suspension ( Front/Rear ) Type Double Wishbone/Multi-Link
Tyres Size Front : 245/35 R19 Rear: 245/35 R20 Bridgestone Potenza
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