A blue or green hue will join Soul Red Crystal Metallic and Machine Gray
Mazda makes some of the most engaging and exciting mainstream vehicles today, and its designs are surprisingly upscale for their price points. The same is true for Mazda's paint colors, where the automaker's Soul Red Crystal Metallic color is one of the deepest, richest hues anywhere. Though Soul Red has become Mazda's signature paint, company designers say its next blockbuster paint color will be slightly different.
Mazda designer Jo Stenuit told Chasing Cars that the automaker is eying blue or green as its next signature paint color. Stenuit said that most European buyers prefer less vibrant colors, so adding a darker shade makes sense. The same is true in the United States, where paint maker PPG says that 35 percent of all vehicles built in 2021 were white, and another 18 percent were black. Colors like red and green only make up 7 and 2 percent of our market, respectively.
The story behind Soul Red Crystal Metallic is the most interesting part and starts with engineers trying to replicate the elaborate paint jobs found on Mazda's concept cars.
The automaker's concept vehicles featured unique and high-end paint jobs that required lots of hand painting and finishing. Mazda says that the technique is fine for concept cars, where it complements the Kodo design language, but hand-painting thousands of production cars isn't practical. To achieve the same effect in an automated production line, Mazda had to program its robots to replicate the steps.
As a result, Soul Red Crystal Metallic emerged in 2012 as the first color from Mazda's "Takuminuri" paint process. The name translates to "artisan coloring" and expanded to include Machine Gray in 2016. Mazda charges extra for most colors, such as $395 for Polymetal Gray Metallic, but the Soul Red and Machine Gray colors are $595. That's still a bargain compared to premium paints from some automakers, such as Audi's $1,075 Sebring Black Crystal and BMW's $1,950 Tanzanite Blue II Metallic. Though expensive, exclusive colors have proven quite popular, as Audi sold out of its custom colors last year.
The factory achieves the color by applying a light-absorbing flake and a high-brightness small aluminum flake as a reflective base layer. Next, a high-chroma pigment is applied to form a translucent layer before the clear topcoat is applied. The effect is stunning, even on somewhat boring vehicles like crossovers. The new CX-50 looks great in this shade.
Interestingly, Mazda's unique paint process requires a special repair process. PPG says the Machine Gray color boasts tri-coat paint with a black color coat and a leafing aluminum layer covered with a clear coat. Because of that complexity, the surface prep is different than traditional repairs, and it's more challenging to return the paint to its factory condition. It's a difficult enough repair that PPG has issued detailed technical service bulletins to outline the process.