Posted by: Matthew Vella on December 7, 2006
Mazda has turned itself into the de facto purveyor of inexpensive but quintessentially sporty imports. Arguably, it’s produced some of the most compelling new products at lower price points this year, like the brand new CX-7 crossover, hard top Miata, and MAZDASPEED series.
In the U.S., sales for the year so far are up about 4.1%. It’s one of only eight other auto manufacturers to have posted double-digit percentage growth in the number of SUVs and light-trucks sold in the first eleven months of the year. Those figures have been buoyed by the strength of the new CX-7 and Mazda5 mini-minivan, both of which have both sold about 15,000 units. After launching the new Miata and pocket-rocket version of the Mazda3, the company is also prepping another larger crossover, the CX-9.
But, coinciding with this product blitz has been a series of notable concept cars, the Sassou, Senku, and Kabura. The latter, a drop-dead gorgeous RWD sports coupe, nabbed the spotlight at the North American International Auto Show, earning the EyesOnDesign Award. In LA, the company took the wraps off its latest concept, the Nagare — that’s pronounced “na-ga-rhe” or “flow” according to global design director Laurens van den Acker. And it seems that, despite the shift in focus to practical people movers with sporty road manners, the company’s swooping aesthetic will endure for a long time to come.
The Nagare could influence a future version of the RX-8 or a revival of the RX-3. Look for a peek of a more fully realized Nagare concept next month in Detroit and then again later at Geneva in March.