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There's A Good Reason Why People Are Split On The New Mazda3's Design

Interview / 4 Comments

That massive C-Pillar on the hatchback is actually an optical illusion.

Ever since introducing its Kodo design language, beautiful styling has been a major factor in Mazda's success. At the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, Mazda pulled the wraps off of the first car to feature its second generation of the Kodo design language, the 2019 Mazda3.

Having spoken to people at the show and read comments online, there is a real difference of opinion regarding which of the two bodystyles is the most attractive. After speaking with Mazda North America's Director of Design, Julien Montousse, there's a good reason for that.

Looking at the Mazda3 in sedan and hatchback form, it is clear that both bodystyles draw heavy influence from the concept vehicles - the sedan garnering inspiration from the Vision Coupe and the hatchback from the Kai Concept. Even the colors these two concepts wore match the colors shown off during the Mazda3's reveal. According to Mazda's Director of Design, it was certainly no accident that the new Mazda3 ended up looking like the company's gorgeous concept cars.

In fact, building cars that look like the concepts is "super important" according to Montousse. "When we show a concept, it is about envisioning what Mazda has got for the customer in the future. We don't want to fool [people] - this is really is the direction. It's not a dream car - this is what we want you to connect within the near future."

"We are a very passionate brand. While other automakers are looking for mobility as a device, Mazda wants to be emotional," said Montousse. "Our brand can awake your five senses - through owning an object that tells a story. What we are doing through design and engineering is making humans feel human."

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We asked why he thinks there have been such strong differences of opinion regarding the design of two cars. Speaking of the Vision and Vision Coupe Concepts, Montousse said:" those are extraordinary visions for us to understand how we have people falling in love for different reasons. If you look at the form, they are very different."

"There is actually an 'EN' feeling and a 'RIN' feeling," Montousse explained. "The EN feeling in Japanese is really conveying this idea of purity - a surface that is much more organic, there is no hard edge to it." This is the design concept you will see on the Mazda3 hatchback. "The Rin feeling is more decisive. It is much sharper and much more assertive," Montousse said of the Mazda3 sedan. "The sedan is very elegant whereas the hatch is very sporty."

Most people have gravitated towards the elegant sedan, perhaps as a result of the most controversial part of the hatchback - the massive C-pillar.

"I read a lot of those comments. A lot of it is an optical illusion because we don't have any shoulder on the rear panel," explained Montousse. "Usually the shoulder is always cutting some of the mass - you see the C-pillar expanding as a trapezoid on and on until the wheel arch, so it does accentuate the mass of the C-pillar. However, if you look at just mathematically compared to the current one, the opening of the window is extremely close - it looks wider."

After seeing the car in person, we can confirm the C-pillar does look more attractive than in pictures. Even the color on the car massively changes how the car looks, so we'd recommend reserving judgment until you see it up close.