(from Mazda Press
Release) The essence of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom spirit is
providing customers with stylish, insightful, spirited products
capable of enriching their lives in exciting ways. At this year’s
North American International Auto Show, Mazda is presenting Kabura,
a design concept that ventures beyond the compact sports coupe norm
to explore several fresh ideas that could appear in future
To deliver the true
“Soul of a Sportscar” that is the essence of every Mazda, Kabura
incorporates the front-engine, rear-drive layout universally
admired by driving enthusiasts and long delivered by Mazda’s
MX-5 and rotary-engined sportscars.
To support youthful
lifestyles, Kabura stretches the bounds of interior versatility
in radical directions. Replacing the typical 2+2 layout is a
clever 3+1 arrangement which establishes a new interior concept
giving greater passenger comfort versus a traditional coupe
without increasing weight or size. Obliging spur-of-the-moment
adventures and shopping sprees, all passenger seats fold flat to
make way for snow boards, shopping bags and all the tools of an
active life .
While Kabura has the
presence of an exotic sports car, it has the practicality and
affordability that youth can yearn for and afford.
KABURA: The First Arrow Launched
“Kabura” is a Japanese
term taken from “KABURA-ya”, an arrow that makes a howling sound
when fired and was historically used to signal the start of a
battle. The “first arrow into battle” depicts Mazda’s spirit of
pursuing unique and exciting ventures - such as the rotary engine.
Kabura is not only the first Mazda compact coupe for the 21 st
century, it’s also the first project guided by Mazda North American
Operations’ (MNAO) Director of Design Franz von Holzhausen, who
joined Mazda in February 2005. The 37-year-old von Holzhausen
studied industrial design at Syracuse University and graduated from
the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena , Calif.
REINVIGORATING THE AFFORDABLE
“With Kabura, we set out
to use innovative design to rekindle the passion for driving,” notes
von Holzhausen. “Our intention is to rouse the segment with some
intravenous creativity. While we have no plans at the moment to
build a production version of Kabura, it is not a complete flight of
fancy. It embodies several innovations Mazda could implement when a
compact sports coupe, steeped in Zoom-Zoom, is ready for
According to a recent survey performed by a major research
organization, Mazda’s new-car customers are the second youngest in
North America , at only 41 years of age .
Generation-Y buyers are several steps ahead of the latest trends and
constantly on the lookout for affordable possessions that satisfy
their hunger for stylish, insightful and spirited designs. One of
Kabura’s roles is exposing a likely future design direction to
today’s demanding customers.
Power is supplied to Kabura’s rear wheels by a 2.0-liter version of
Mazda’s highly respected MZR DOHC 16-valve engine and through to
245/35R19 Bridgestone Potenza front tires and 245/35R20 tires at the
rear. While this concept has been constructed over several MX-5
chassis components, basic dimensions fall between Mazda’s MX-5 and
Were the Kabura design study to achieve production status, it would
likely be a stand-alone product rather than an extension of any
existing model line.
Von Holzhausen describes
Kabura’s exterior as “a nimble-looking fuselage with a powerful
stance, pronounced wheel arches and taut surfaces.” He adds , “Every
line flows into another with no open ends. Surfaces are drawn tight
over the wheel arches, the way a spider’s web stretches between
While Kabura’s profile is reminiscent of classic coupes, the
windshield and forward portion of the roof are integrated into one
seamless glass surface that extends from the cowl to the B-pillar.
Admitting extra light enhances the interior’s feeling of airy space.
Overhead portions of the glass have adjustable tinting so that the
driver can twist a knob on bright days to change the roof’s opacity,
as desired, from clear to completely opaque.
Behind its B-pillar, Kabura has a two-piece glass hatch. The
uppermost glass panel normally lies flush. When pivoted-up by an
electric motor, the way ailerons rise out of an airplane wing, this
panel serves three purposes: it acts as a roof spoiler, it vents air
from the interior and it greatly augments the rear passengers’
headroom. In addition, a photovoltaic solar cell in the panel helps
to control ambient temperature as well as recharge the battery. The
larger glass hatch panel has side-mounted hinges to provide ready
access to Kabura’s spacious cargo compartment.
CREATIVE INTERIOR COMPOSITION
“While examining the
habits and tastes of our youthful customers, we found that the
majority have a need to carry one or at most two passengers in
comfort, while a very small percentage actually use the fourth seat
on limited occasions,” von Holzhausen continues, noting the level of
research and planning that goes into the creation of a major
automaker’s concept vehicle. “Clearly, the standard 2+2 compact
coupe configuration with restricted rear access and limited seating
space doesn’t work in this context, so we created a 3+1 layout for
Kabura that resolves those shortcomings”.
A standard left-side door provides access to the driver’s cockpit
and the rear jump seat. The right side is a wholly different and
purposely asymmetrical arrangement. Removing the glovebox and
minimizing the instrument panel allowed designers to shift the front
passenger six-inches ahead of the driver’s seating position. In
turn, the second passenger, sitting in tandem behind the right-front
passenger, enjoys approximately the same leg, shoulder, and
Developed on the RX-Evolv and RX-01 showcars, Mazda designers
invented the rear-hinged freestyle doors to improve the RX-8’s
rear-seat access. Kabura proves that inspiration can strike twice in
pursuit of spirited, stylish design that provides customers more
than they ever dreamed possible.
To maintain a sleek roofline while offering rear access that’s
vastly superior to what’s available in today’s compact coupes, von
Holzhausen’s team designed Kabura with an extra right-side door.
After the front door is opened, touching a button slides the bonus
door straight back and out of the way.
Instead of swinging on hinges as in the innovative Mazda RX-8, this
additional door glides neatly into a cavity notched into the
rear-quarter panel area the way a pocket door disappears into a
house wall. “Kabura may be the first compact coupe where no
passenger has to call ‘shotgun!’ to avoid the second-class citizen
treatment,” von Holzhausen pointed out.
FORM AND FUNCTION MEET THE FUTURE
Building on Kabura’s
innovative styling and interior packaging, von Holzhausen’s team
decided that introducing a level of sustainability and recyclability
was a critical part of the concept. By partnering with Sustainable
Solutions, Inc (SSI), a leader in reengineering post-industrial
waste materials into quality consumer products, Mazda shows it has
an eye toward the future in everything it does.
Kabura's interior is produced from SSI's innovative regenerated
leather substrate. Itself produced from 100-percent post-industrial
waste - in this case, much of the waste was material recovered from
the manufacturing of Nike brand athletic shoes - SSI's leather-grind
is able to be dyed and printed in any color or design and appears in
Kabura as a technical yet inviting material.
Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and
marketing, customer parts and service support of Mazda vehicles in
the United States . Headquartered in Irvine , Calif. , MNAO has more
than 700 dealerships nationwide.