Cubism is to Picasso as Kodo is to…
If you said ‘Mazda’, congratulations on an art and design knowledge broader than the name-dropping realm of modern day rap, or performance art, or whatever they’re calling it nowadays.
For the rest of y’all, allow us to reintroduce you to the Mazda3; an all-new manifest of American-blessed Japanese design, and one of the hottest (plus refreshingly affordable) hatches to emerge from a studio in quite some time. Mass Appeal was recently on site as Mazda’s head of North American Design, Derek Jenkins, unveiled the latest piece in the brand’s gallery.
Kodo, which translates from Japanese as ‘heartbeat’, or ‘rhythm of life’, has been defined by Mazda as ‘the soul of motion’; a design suite comprised of the elements speed, tension and allure. And though we weren’t permitted to drive the vibrant red prototype (patience, grasshopper) the first facet of Kodo is unmistakably present. This Mazda3 looks faster than any before it – even outgoing Speed models. Gone is the infamous ‘smile’, which the brand caught more than a fair share of critique for. “I like to think I had a big hand in that,” quipped Jenkins, as he gave us the tour of the car’s sleek visage, now outfitted with more of an alluring, devilish smirk.
Noted in the last description, the allure component of Kodo is equally present – but tension? We’re not talking tension like your ex making an appearance during your latest exercise in courtship. Instead, think rubber band, stretched to nearly its breaking point. This 3 is that sort of tense – its broad haunches and aggressive stance seem ready at any moment to toss you around like a rag doll.
Inside its surprisingly spacious cabin, the Kodo language continues to talk volumes on Mazda’s passion for design. Glancing around the driver-focused, well-appointed interior, you might lose sight of the fact that you’re in an entry-level car. But as ugly and unexciting as that classification has historically been, we’re finally seeing evidence that things don’t have to be that way.
As for performance, we don’t expect the new Mazda3 to be a tire-shredding, torque-steering little bastard of a car right out the box (we could be wrong), but given the recent success of the brand’s Skyactiv technology package, it’s pretty safe to say that the short stack that you dish out (expect around $16K for starts) will deliver outstanding, hybrid-level MPG figures in a car that’s 1.) actually fun to drive and 2.) you wouldn’t mind being seen in. And if you need a 3.) we did receive confirmation that a Speed version is already in the works, and that, we might want to keep an eye on this fall’s SEMA aftermarket conference for hints.
So while the rap world continues to plan on how to “cop those colossal-sized Picassos” (still the best painter reference out there), we’d like to remind the more practical among us that art and design shouldn’t be limited to wall-hangings and display cases. Mazda – through Kodo’s take on the Mazda3 – has proven this with true curb appeal, while giving us an artistic dialogue that doesn’t sound limited to the names of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We hope you learned something today.