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Mazda Refuses To Fall Into The Audi Design Trap


A lesson in what not to do with new models.

For too long Audi sedans looked way too much alike. This is commonly referred to as the "Russian doll” design method: taking the same basic design and stretching (or shortening) depending on model. An A4 looked like a shortened A8. Audi rightly took criticism for this and only more recently has it taken the necessary steps to further distinguish styling between models.

Other automakers have taken note of Audi’s actions and are aware of the repercussions. Take Mazda, for example. It has steadily been evolving its Kodo (meaning "Soul of Emotion”) design language for the past several years, the most recent example being the all-new Mazda3 sedan and hatchback.

There is really no mistaking a Mazda for anything else these days, which is a good thing. However, Mazda models should also be easily distinguished from one another. Autocar was told by the brand’s European design chief, Jo Stenuit, that "Every car that comes will clearly be a Mazda, but the way we executive the reflection of surfaces will be different in each car.”

Stenuit recently took over from Kevin Rice, who has since become Chinese automaker Chery vice president of design. We spoke with Rice last March at Geneva where we were given a design tour of the Kai concept that heavily previewed the new 3.

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He stressed nearly the same point his successor just made: Kodo styling will be uniquely applied to future models instead of a one size fits all approach. In that case, what’s next for Mazda? Chances are we’ll be seeing the next 6 sedan. The current third generation launched back in 2012 and has been regularly updated ever since, but it is slowly starting to show its age. One potential design cue it could take is from last year’s Vision Coupe Concept, though a set of rear doors would obviously be added.