Wading through the sea of crossovers and varying sizes of SUVs at this year’s New York International Auto Show, I found that Mazda tucked away an absolute gem of a concept car. And it’s just a hatchback. The Mazda Kai Concept debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show late last year but compared to the rest of the cars on display in New York, it had the cleanest, sexiest design of all — and it’s not even new.
Mazda’s KODO design language (present in full force on the Kai) is the brand’s statement of intent to move further upmarket. But, as proven by the new $30,000 2018 Mazda 6, that doesn’t necessarily mean Mazda will forget its roots and values and start inflating its price tags. The Mazda 6 showcases a dialed down example of the design of the Kai Concept. However, Mazda needs to go all in and just put the Kai into production.
As it is with most, if not all concept cars, that’s easier said than done. Still, the Kai concept doesn’t have cartoonishly massive wheels or a letterbox-sized windshield — it’s actually not that far off from the current Mazda 3 hatchback. Aside from the bullet-shaped camera side mirrors and those incredible deep-set Iron Man arc reactor headlights, the Kai looks production ready.
Overall, the design relies on close to zero character lines, using the body’s natural curve to get the KODO look across. It’s clean, uncluttered and, honestly, from the front wheels back it comes looks like something Pininfarina would pen for Ferrari. Mazda does say that the Kai concept is what future Mazdas will look like. Why wait, Mazda? Stop slowly trickling in the Kai details to the lineup. Go all in and send this to production.
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