The Surface of Things

A keenly anticipated visual encounter ensues. Your correspondent comes away impressed.

Author’s image

The products of Hiroshima are not without their exponents upon the pages of Driven to Write – we have both editorially and in the submissions from our contributors been rather generous in our praise both of the previous generation 3 model and its shapely new replacement.

On the surface of things, Mazda appears to have taken a noticeable step forward with this car, moving closer to the upmarket German makes, both in aspiration and overall desirability – especially now as the latter move towards an ever more attention-seeking and repellent visual palette. But up to now, the new 3 existed for me only in the occasional fleeting glance and in static two dimensional form.

As we know however, there is no substitute for a three-dimensional viewpoint and yesterday evening, I received my first clear sighting of Mazda’s latest C-segment midliner in natural evening light. Time to carry out a closer inspection.

The 3’s styling has been warmly received in most circles, but it is not without its slightly awkward angles. Nose-on for example, the grille appears a little oversized (hardly an unusual criticism nowadays) an impression, in this spec at least, the gloss-black finished surround serves to heighten. Similarly, from the front three quarters, the overall form can appear a little awkward – its convex bodysides and bulky rear quarters lending the car’s stance a very slight inconsistency.

But as one moves around the car, the designers’ work truly reveals itself, and initial doubts quickly evaporate. Viewed in profile and from the rear three-quarters, it’s a very handsome piece of work indeed. So much so that I found myself spending considerably more time poring over it than was probably either necessary or decorous.

It’s quite clear that Mazda’s design team arrived at a strong theme and subsequently refined it by removing as much information as possible, without distracting from the essential impact of the proportions. As such, the 3 is perhaps the most athletic looking of all the current C-segment offerings, eschewing fussiness for an almost palpable impression of litheness.

The sculpture in the surfacing and in the detail flourishes is truly extraordinary – the transitions from headlamp to grille and around the nose being particularly well-handled, and shows up its rivals for the overwrought, frequently lumpen efforts they (for the most part) are.

Interestingly, while here is more than a hint of the original Alfasud about the 3’s silhouette, one imagines that anyone who has had the experience of reverse parking a ‘Sud with a fogged-up interior (a default position in this author’s experience) would feel right at home in the Mazda’s rather confined-looking rear cabin. A dealbreaker? If you could reverse park a Sud, you can reverse park anything.

Because frankly, were the 3 to sport the fabled Biscione of Milan upon its elegant snout, it would undoubtedly be hailed as a staggering return to form – one perhaps worthy of song. That it hails from a carmaker who despite their best efforts, labour under an undeserved and underwhelming image amongst the general public means the 3 is likely to remain something of an outlier – especially here amid the ultra-conservative Irish Republic carbuyer – (more fool us).


Because on the surface of things it’s the 3’s sense of flamboyance, coupled with a visual restraint that is so impressive. If anything, I find in it a redolence to William Lyons’ better work; in its economy of form, and in the manner in which the car’s lines and surfaces are allowed to communicate their message to the observer.

A message that simply reads – Drive Me. I really wanted to – and there are not many new cars that speak in such clear terms nowadays.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

52 thoughts on “The Surface of Things”

  1. “… anyone who has had the experience of reverse parking a ‘Sud with a fogged-up interior (a default position in this author’s experience) would feel right at home in the Mazda’s rather confined-looking rear cabin. ”

    I have to say that is my assessment of almost any post-2000 vehicle design. All of them SUCK with respect to rear visibility, 3/4 visibility, being able to see the four corners of the vehicle from the driver’s seat… etc.

    At one time these visibility attributes were important and part of the design. They have fallen by the wayside in the pursuit of preposterous “design” and styling choices.

    It it is huge irony that with an increasing “safety” obsessed society, which mandates all sort of electronic nonsense and collision performance, at the same time all these vehicles have major visibility deficiencies that makes them unnecessarily dangerous to operate !

  2. What a stunner. As you say, I’d happily drive a new Alfa 149 with that body and the 1750 TBi engine.

  3. I really try to acknowledge the care and effort that have gone into shaping all the surfaces and transitions, and the apparently noteworthy result of it all. But for me it’s just not a good design. Too much goes in the wrong direction – space economy and visibility, noteably. The aggressiveness is just about tolerable here; less would be better, but most others are worse.

    The real art of design for me is making a good-looking, well proportioned car that’s also useable – and I’m even willing to take some compromise here, but not too much.

    1. Simon, I am with you.

      The new 3 is, regrettably, a step backwards. A five door, five seat hatchback should not compromise on the comfort of rear seat passengers so much in the interests of striking design.

      There is much to like about it, but any children confined to the rear quarters would quickly make the driver’s life a misery. It fails on its own terms.

    2. Will nobody think of the children!
      I’m sure they’ll be fine, just sitting up a bit to see out. And toddlers will be in their special seats which are quite high anyway.

      Talking of seeing out, I see the Lancia Musa I had my eye on has an appalling front blind spot which hides a fairly obese pedestrian behind its A post.

    3. Your point is backed-up by the poor sales of the new 3 in North America. In Canada, it has always been a top seller but the new model has resulted in a sales drop of around 20%. That’s a disaster for Mazda.

    4. I would suggest that Mazda may have anticipated a degree of resistance to the hatch’s styling. It certainly isn’t for everyone. It occurs to me that they may have opted to lose some sales and move to higher transaction prices – which in the current market could be a sensible decision to take. Certainly, sales figures alone only tell part of the story.

    5. Hi yowvil2000. Regarding Canadian sales of the Mazda3, I’m wondering what the split between saloon and hatchback models is? The latest saloon model is more conventionally handsome, and a considerably less polarising design, presumably to cater for more conservative buyers, so I’d be surprised if sales have been hit by any resistance to its appearance.

  4. Good morning, Eóin. I’ve yet to see the new Mazda3 in the metal, so I’m very pleased to read your positive appraisal of its design. There’s been significant adverse comment about the practical impact on visibility of the rising waistline and thick C-pillars, but I applaud Mazda for going its own way and producing a car that is not just another “me too” C-segment hatchback. Mazda does not pretend to be a direct rival to mass-market manufacturers, so it’s rational for the company to offer the market something that leads on different priorities, in this case its striking design. In any event, parking sensors and/or a camera should deal with the rear visibility issue. Some buyers with young children will regard the rear accommodation as unacceptably gloomy, but there are enough single people and childless couples for whom this is irrelevant.

    A couple more photographs of the car in that wonderful metallic red:

    The design really is a welcome breath of fresh air, simple and clean, with minimal ornamentation and beautiful, full surfacing. The “cab-backward” stance gives it an almost coupé-like profile that successfully disguises its transverse-engined FWD mechanical layout.

    The details are mainly really well handled: I like the way the front and rear lamp units are similarly shaped and contain matching circular graphics. The front grille is certainly large, but it is nicely three-dimentional and is perfectly integrated with the headlamps. Its size means the lower front valance is happily free of those big scoops and ducts that have become a dreary trope of current design.

    The front wing to bumper shut line is nicely handled, continuing through the headlamp in a single, straight line. Compare this with the inept treatment of the same detail on the new A-class. The shut-lines around the inset bonnet look to be quite consistent and tight, better than many Mercedes-Benz efforts. I really like the way the sills step out slightly at the base of the doors. In natural light, this shows as a sharp line of colour within the dark shadow of the lower door and sill area.

    The only detail that jars for me is the shut line at the trailing edge of the rear door: it would have been better if it followed the curve of the wheel arch, rather than cut through it. Otherwise, it’s a lovely piece of work. There is, of course, a saloon version which is rather more conventional but still very handsome. However, it’s likely to be as rare as hens teeth, within these shores at least.

    1. “In any event, parking sensors and/or a camera should deal with the rear visibility issue.”

      This is the problem. People are willing to put up with this stuff, and live with cameras, sonar, and radar as a substitute for proper windows.

      If someone built a house, and deliberately designed the windows so he couldn’t see out, then set up cameras so he could see the view on screen, he would be assessed as insane.

      Yet this sort of thinking is widely accepted when it comes to vehicle design !

  5. Here’s the saloon:

    Another contender for my “Now, that’s a 3-Series I would buy!” award.

    Hi Simon, I didn’t see your comment before posting mine. “One man’s meat…”, I guess!

    1. Never seen the saloon before and find it even more appealing than the hatch. Certainly one of the best current efforts.

    2. I prefer the notchback. The hatchback’s large area of unstructured metal bulge atop the rear wheel makes the rear look heavy and the saloon’s crease gives the lines some urgently needed tension.
      Both versions look as if they’ve been T-boned because of the strange wavy door skins (do they call this ‘flame surfacing’?).
      Sorry, I’d take our Golf Mk IV any time instead.

    3. The saloon clearly isn’t for me, either – no hatch and even more fake RWD proportions…

    4. I wouldn’t buy either of them because of the Banglified S-bend in the lateral surfaces.
      The hatchback’s Quasimodo hump back is something I could never accept.

    5. Simon´s yearning for practicality is respectable; not all cars have to have the same prioritisation. For the practically minded person there is always a Jetta. This 3 is aiming at the emotions; it is both a better 3-series as a saloon and a better Giulietta as a three-door. And…. ta da… it has a rear centre arm-rest.

  6. It’s a nice car.
    The transgressing rear-door shut line’s a puzzle. Is it so oldies can enter/exit more easily?

    The rear-lamp cluster tells you immediately that it’s a Mazda, which is brilliant.

    Can you always show us the front 3/4 view first, please?

    1. Certainly:

      Regarding the children, child seats, followed by boarding school. Simples!

    2. Oh, sorry Vic, I missed the “first” in your question. Anyway, here’s the alternative for families, the new CX-30 crossover:

    3. Thanks, Daniel.
      It’s too much like others of the ugly ilk today.

  7. I saw one of these in metal the other day, and it looks really nice. Some of the awkwardness from some angles in photos seems to soften in the flesh.

    As for visibility, it’s a problem with most modern cars, whether big blind spots towards the rear or the thick A pillars obstructing vision, especially on corners. I recall a study a year or so ago looking into car-hits-bike accidents where they determined that the thick A pillars created a blind spot that could cause the car driver to not see the bike for a second or more.

    Jumping from the Passat to the Dyane is stark reminder of the reduced visibility of modern designs. But, if something more substantial than a bee were to hit me, I think I’d rather be in the Passat 😉

    1. You’d think the EU would rule on visibility dangers, but then realise the VAG lobby is all-powerful.

    2. A-pillars is another visibility issue. In that case there is a partial explanation that the pillar has to be bigger for front collision and rollover strength. Also, the pillar contains a roof/curtain airbag, which also makes it bigger.

      Pillar thickness is one thing, location is another. The near horizontal front windshields are pushing the base of the pillar forward and blocking an important visibility area.

      But we can’t have more vertical pillars because that would interfere with “cool” styling.

      Instead of form following function, we have function as the slave to form.

  8. Drove a Mazda3 sedan AWD last month. Don’t really like the hatchback’s looks in anthing but Machine Grey – certainly the details of the design look good in isolation but the back of the hatchback is just too big and bustly compared to the svelte part ahead of it and it comes off looking awkward. Would not want to be transported in the cave-like backseat. I’d say it just doesn’t really work overall despite all the obvious surfacing effort expended. Inside the interior quality is, however, superb – that’s its main drawing point.

    The sedan drives nicely if not thrillingly – excessively pleasant sums it up, so it’s a bit of a yawn with nothing much to draw one in. You start the engine and it moves, is quiet and rides well, goes around bends nicely, and leaves no impression. It’s sort of over-refined, like most cars these days. Bland, not spritely because the engine is short of the low end torque that turbos provide and seems dull evn in the 2.5 litre version I drove. The new SkyActiv-X engine is unlikely to set its trousers on fire either when it finally arrives. The car needs a punchier engine to give it a bit of zest.

    As others have said, sales of Mazdas in general in North America are off about 15% so far this calendar year. In the US, I can see why because the prices are high, but in Canada using direct currency conversion, the prices are reasonable coming in about 15 to 20% less. Yet the cars aren’t selling in Canada either. Poor old Mazda seems to be stuck with a line-up that people are managing to successfully ignore. Meanwhile Subaru keeps setting sales records for cars that I find even more bland, that look chunky and are just as slow – I just don’t get why their sales success should be.

    Few of the older Mazda3 hatches were sold compared to the sedan – it cost(s) $1,000 more for the five door and its rear wiper, a price most people couldn’t be bothered to ante up. I suspect it’ll be the same for this new one because most people would rather pay for the AWD at $1700 instead because winter is a reality that cannot be ignored here.

    The latest Mazda3? A swing and a miss as they say in baseball.

  9. The Soul Red colour at this time of night lends itself a velvet quality and depth I’ve not seen on any other car. Beats anything “premium “ hands down. I’m tempted for a test drive in the new 3. But not just now, the Rioja has obscured most things…

    1. Lancia have often have a Rioja colour in their range. Usually called Bordeaux, and continued right through to the Ypsilon.

  10. 26 comments, and not one saying the new 3 is just ok-ish. It even brought the esteemed Mr Herriott out of retirement and into the fray! If Mazda wanted to produce a car that excited emotions, that’s job done, I’d say.

  11. Rather famously, the original Renault Twingo fared badly at customer clinics, back in the day.

    25% of the respondents adored the car and another 25% quite liked it, but admitted they wouldn’t like to be first to own one in the street. However, a shocking 50% just hated it.

    The majority of Renault’s executives hence pushed for the car’s font end design to be changed, which Patrick le Quément staunchly opposed, highlighting that the quarter of people asked who appreciated the looks did so passionately and hence ‘had to own it’. Renault’s then-CEO, Raymond Lévy, eventually agreed, and the rest is truly history.

    My understanding is that Mazda’s reasoning is quite similar, particularly as they finally want break out of the ‘also-ran’ mould – alienating some potential customers while appealing to others to a very high degree is more sound a concept than trying to please everybody, against this backdrop.

    Like it or not (and I personally certainly don’t), but the previous generation A-class successfully pursued a similar strategy. It alienated a fair few existing customers, but made the car the darling of an altogether new clientele. That the successor model turned out far more timid suggests that MB grew fearful of their own courage at some point later on, suggesting overall levels of conviction weren’t quite as high as Herr Wagener would like to make believe.

    Still: a focused product that doesn’t try and please all and sundry is a worthwhile pursuit. I personally hope the new Mazda 3 proves this.

    1. I really do wonder about the effectiveness of focus groups in this context. Do participants really say what they think, or merely what they think the researchers want to hear? If not the latter, than how can one explain the latest BMW 3 Series, to cite a particularly egregious example? On the other hand, do genuinely innovative and ground-breaking designs risk being strangled or neutered before birth, like the original Twingo mentioned by Christopher above.

      My sense is that the vast majority of potential buyers (and, consequently, focus group members) can recognise a palpably poor design, but do not have the skills to “read” a design well enough to distinguish between ok and excellent. Apologies if that sounds pretentious or elitist, but virtually all of my acquaintances buy cars on the basis of brand image, type, size, equipment, and the deal on offer. Aesthetics, and in particular whether details are resolved well or badly, are either very low or simply absent from their list of priorities. I have seen bemusement on the faces of friends when I’ve tried to draw their attention to a particularly well drawn shut line or neatly handled A-pillar to front wing intersection on their new car!

    2. You’re right, of course, Andrew, but imagine the fun we might have if we were to be invited to a BMW customer clinic, at least up to the point when we get thrown out!

    3. Trying to sell a mass product where a significant fraction of the public hates it is an economically dangerous strategy.

      The danger is that the unpopular product becomes an object of ridicule, like the Edsel.

      Then, even the minority who like it may become embarrassed to be seen in it – and the vehicle fails.

      Of course, in some cases, the fact that there is a huge hostile response to a vehicle is part of the appeal.

      Eg. some prosperous blue collar types in North America are delighted that the urban liberal woke elite hates their huge pickup trucks.

    4. Angel says; “Trying to sell a mass product where a significant fraction of the public hates it is an economically dangerous strategy.”

      I might be minded to suggest that producing a product that at best is everybody’s third or fourth choice is perhaps an even quicker route to oblivion. This is the central conundrum for the majority of mainstream non-American carmakers – even more so in the C-segment, where the Golf bestrides the sector with an iron dominance. Mazda are rolling the dice on this one and I applaud them for trying to do something (slightly) different.

      In my view, continuing as they were would have been a far riskier strategy.

    5. You’re absolute right, Eóin. Recent history is littered with “me too”Golf clones from other manufacturers that, in Europe at least, sank without trace or tears. Two of the more blatant were the:

      Fiat Stilo

      and Toyota Auris

      The Stilo was a nice piece of rational, industrial design, but the car underneath was rubbish and it absolutely bombed. The Auris really was Toyota’s attempt to build a Golf. It was an ok car, but nobody cared much.

      VW even poked fun at the doppelgangers in a UK Golf TV ad a few years ago. The tag-line was “Why have something like a Golf, when you can have a Golf?”

  12. Oh Daniel, that is why we have DTW. The great unwashed have no time for specific nuances like designer, shut-lines or aesthetics. We need this haven of pragmatism to allow opinions to flow on what WE cherish, the car

  13. I’d strongly oppose Daniel’s view that the Stilo “was rubbish underneath”. Both for a Fiat, and in a view that’s independant
    of expectations-driven prejudice, the Stilo was (and still is, they
    appear to last and are built teutonically), a very underrated
    and technically mature car. Its fall from grace was exactly
    due to it being too good, too devoid of humour & character,
    too bulky, too safe, too tank-like (too un-Fiat…?).

    As to the main article (a sensational one!), I find it so amusing that the word “polarising” is actually misused in the case of Kodo Arrigato’s latest sensation. The 3 Hatch is not actually polarising, it’s just a tremendously game-changing, brave and sensational automotive event. “Polarising” is used as the principal verbal tool by those hellbent on demoting the inevitable reality of it being already in the showrooms and on the streets – that makes many big names trembling with unease. The unease, mind, does not come from any palpable sales threats (as obviously Mazda aims at a different, margins driven approach this time), but for the sheer threat of brand re-positioning and the shiny diamond in the crown it represents for Mazda.

    The very fact that most of us see an actual and relevant “Alfa 149” in this design, reinforces the impression that this is the pinnacle of the design goal that many have strived towards: to deliver a 5 door C-segm.hatch that doesn’t only look striking as a 3dr, but ‘outlooks’ even a Coupe. Mazda nailed it. In style.

    With a healthy, 6 months distance from my February comments on the same event ( ), after seeing the subject on the streets in several distinct surroundings, and especially after reading this eye-opening article by Eoin – that revealed additional, valuable layers of decoding for the Hatch’s tantalising looks – I am inclined to conclude that the C-segment styling has never ever received a design that’s so plentiful with street presence and so exuberant with automotive joy (the “Drive Me” message, as Eoin summed it up surgically).

    To my eyes, if a car is C-segment, it doesn’t necessarily mean
    it should be boringly uber-practical. Actually, those of the current (or relatively recent) C-segm. offerings that are still offered in an utterly impractical 3dr.format (and especially the Ethalon – Golf 7!), are perhaps the best real-world cars out there, for the discernible, styling-conscious drivers. Many drivers need the modicum of size-induced safety that an A- or B- cannot physically provide, but don’t condition their purchase on obsessive practicality.

    Mazda has achieved (and exceeded) those, 3dr-modern-hatch levels of “beltline drama”, whilst retaining genuine 5 doors, with an end-result of having a street cred exceeding those of
    a good Coupe. And that, in itself, is an industry milestone that’s a first, with a magnitude of game-changing that’s seen once every 15-20 years, perhaps even less often.

    Hat off.

    P.S. Bill Malcolm’s comment about recent cars being more and more over-refined (read: b a d, as we all know NVH presence defines much of the character of a car), goes to show that it’s
    mainly the modern, ignorantly-steered automotive media
    outlets that lead manufacturers to tend to make the cars
    more and more refined. It’s just epochally wrong. Premium segment cars should be more and more able to deliver a larger NVH-scope of character (and not be just more refined, losing the unrefined, characterful side of the drive in the process…).
    It’s a completely lost case, as if all customers, in all segments, would like hairdryer-like sounding/feeling drivetrains/cabin isolation. No. A devastating number of drivers actually require a good, drivetrain-connected cabin, that can deliver a quiter, more detached driving experience, when so needed. But, apart from Zuffenhausen, where adaptive engine mounts were developed fastidiously (and for somewhat different reasons, admittedly…), noone even bothers to change this drive-numbing tendencies that became the ‘unfortunate mainstream’.

    The “state of NVH affairs” is, frankly, horrible – threatening
    a total and utter demise of the joy of motoring.

    Only comforting sign is the success of the PSA Triplets C1/107/Aygo, and, later, of the VAG ones (Upmiigo) – whose major common USP is the buzzy 3-cyl.drivetrain, which, faced with the rather “cost-cutting” defined cabin isolation, delivers an ‘archaic’, rorty drive experience. Which ultimately sells those cars like hot cakes.

    This is a surefire sign that people demand motoring – just let those NVH engineers work on an entirely different area, eg.
    ashtray / cupholder design (badly needed!).

    Visibility is a long lost battlefield – we can only lament the days of
    Fiat Ritmo, Audi 80 and Citroen BX.

  14. Good morning Alex. I should apologise for my careless use of language with regard to the Stilo, a car of which I have no personal experience, other than to admire its good looks. What I should have said was that it was, at launch, described by the UK automotive press as an average to mediocre car. CAR Magazine, in its Good, Bad and Ugly section, remarked that Fiat “should have paid more attention to the car underneath” (or words to that effect).

    As you say, it may simply have been not the sort of car that was expected from Fiat. I remember thinking at the time that, in design terms at least, it would have made a good C-segment Volvo, and may have been much better regarded as such. Fiat had previous form in confounding the market’s expectations: I remember the bemusement of some reviewers when the Ritmo was launched, a softly sprung car that was described as more French than Italian in character, and providing a very different driving experience to its predecessor, the “sporty” 128.

    As to the new Mazda3 being “polarising”, well, it very clearly is, exciting both admiration and strong dislike amongst DTW’s commentariat, but not indifference. (Like you, I’m very much an admirer.) “Polarising” is not at all a derogatory term, although can be used as such by those seeking sneakily to undermine the object to which it is applied. It is like the word “brave” when applied to a politician’s stance or decision on a particular issue, a weasel word that can equally be interpreted as meaning foolish.

    I absolutely agree with your point about NVH obsession neutering the character of many modern day cars. My flat-six Boxster has a unique and delightful engine note, a pleasure to experience, roof up or down. Even my partner’s Mini Cooper has a characterful heavy growl from its three-cylinder turbo when accelerating.

    1. The Stilo fully embodied Paolo Cantarella’s ambition to turn Fiat into purveyors of automotive white goods. If it had boasted Toyota levels of quality, the plan might’ve worked out.

      The parents of a friend of mine ran a Stilo, back in the day. It was, by a considerable margin, the worst car they ever owned in terms of quality and reliability – an experience that culminated in its brakes catching fire, after they’d (supposedly) been serviced at a main dealership. They never bought a Fiat, or any Italian car, again.

  15. Dictionary definition of polarising: to cause people or opinions to be divided into two opposing groups.
    Like above.

    In photography terms, can make a blue sky deeper or red car more rich – dependant on light levels and can easily be overdone and ruin results. A little like above.

    Thank goodness we can be assured to agree to disagree. I’m firmly in the Like It camp of the Mazda 3 to clarify my polarity

  16. Sorry for being late to this discussion – been away with my family. I’m a well known Mazda-phile (I think) in these pages and have already stated my admiration for this new 3. I visited our local showroom recently to have a decent inspection of the new hatch (the saloon has yet to be introduced to the UK). The car I saw was in that Red and there was another in the new Grey. I agree with Eóin’s commentary entirely as to the exterior styling. A couple of extra points: on the hatch, the grille only comes in that dark grey, which I don’t think sets the front off to best effect; the saloon gets chrome and is much better for it. Also, the car overall manages to look smaller than it is, although I can’t work out why?

    Inside, the 3 is more spacious than it feels – the claustrophobic effect in the rear is even more pronounced than on my old 3 Fastback. Interior design and quality is, though, much better than before.

    The limited engine choice, compromised interior packaging and ambience and pricing starts to make the 3 an even more niche choice than before. I admire the fact that Mazda has stuck it’s neck out and done this, and it’s only been an option given the incoming CX-30. The 3 is what I think Richard would describe as an ’emotional’ design, and one of great integrity at that.

  17. BTW, the dark grey grille thing seems to be a trending thing; every new 3 Series I see has the same curse.

  18. There’s a guy on YouTube called The Sketch Monkey that uses Photoshop expertly to improve automotive designs, with varying degrees of success. He’s a big fan of the new Mazda3 and argues that the reason it looks so unusual and somewhat disconcerting is that it lacks a shoulder line across the C-pillar. To illustrate his point, he adds the “missing” shoulder line. Here’s the car in original form, and with the shoulder line:

    He opines that the shoulder line is unnecessary and merely serves to make it look rather ordinary. I’m inclined to agree with him. What do others think?

    1. The added shoulder line makes the rear track appear significantly wider because everything else is exactly the same. This isn’t really fair is it?

    2. Not only would the addition of a shoulder line be unnecessary, it would simply be a reflection of what everyone else appears to be doing. On a FWD hatch, such an addition (see Ford Forcus) is there to suggest a cab-rearward stance. In the case of the Mazdasud (bravo Christopher!), this is not required as the car already has a RWD bias in the manner in which it’s styled. In addition, Mazda’s design team (wisely in my view) have opted to go their own way, irrespective of contemporary fashion.

      Can I get an Amen on that, brothers?

    3. Please don’t compare this taut and clean design to the Mazda’s hump backed balistraria.

      Instead of photoshopping a shoulder line the hollow in the door skin should have been ironed out and the notchback’s DLO transplanted.

  19. Then again there is plenty of precedent for such modifications:

    Mazda are you listening?

    1. That Lancia has something of the Matra Rancho about it….

  20. Upon seeing the latest Mazda 3 sedan I thought the Aston Martin Lagonda Taraf had a great influence over the Japanese manufacturer… only then, in my ignorance, I discovered the Vision concept and that obvious inspiration was indeed confirmed.

    1. Stelian, thanks for stopping by. Indeed, giving this some thought I can see why you might see a resemblance. But allowing for the possibility of influence or indeed coincidence, it was perhaps astute of Mazda’s designers to imbibe from a car which few (if anyone) has seen (in the flesh) or I would imagine is likely to, and by consequence well outside the public consciousness.

      Around these parts, we might be minded to describe this phenomenon as the ‘My Lovely Horse‘ defence, which fans of the well-loved UK Channel 4 situation comedy, Father Ted might recognise, if not anyone else…

      Hope you’re enjoying the site.

    2. To say I’m enjoying the site is such an understatement, I’ve been devouring every article and its coments for the last week since I discovered it.

      My personal saying is that a good, standing automotive design could be resonably reproduced on paper by a schoolchild off the top of his head. I see very few (general consumer) cars that could adhere to this nowadays, so this site’s general opinions go straight to my heart.

      Relevant to this article: I drive a Honda Civic X sedan whose design I saw as my favourite from its class three years ago, until the above mentioned Mazda arrived and completely blew it away.

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