By on January 18, 2011

Having abandoned its unloved Nagare design language, Mazda has offered only two hints at its new stylistic direction so far, the Shinari concept and a design study on a forthcoming iteration of the Mazda3. And though both hint at how Mazda will express its “Japanese Alfa Romeo” ambitions, neither is obviously a near-production design. But with these just-released renderings of the Mingai Concept, Mazda is bringing its new design language ever closer to reality, as we’re looking at a future CX-5 compact crossover aimed directly at Hyundai’s hot Tucson (ix35 in Europe). It’s a sleek, Shinari-influenced design that proves that the brand’s cleaner, classier design direction can impart any segment with an upscale vibe. In fact, with mild alterations to the grille, this could almost be the rumored Italian-built Alfa compact CUV. For a brand that wins as many accolades for its fun-to-drive performance as it does ridicule for its “deranged Pokemon” styling, this is clearly a good direction to be headed in.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!


26 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Mazda’s Mr Minagi Edition...”

  • avatar

    Another new Karate Kid?
    So is it Mr. Minagi or Mingai?

    • 0 avatar

      Isn’t it Mr. Miyagi?

      Anyway, this looks pretty good. A little too much of a riff on current Infiniti styling trends, but even if not totally original, it certainly looks attractive. As stated, if they can add such attractive design to their other current positive attributes, Mazda’s sales can only go upward. I’m shocked at the decent sales their current vehicles have garnered, in spite of the horrid styling (3, 6, CX-7, CX-9). I fear the new styling will kill the 5 in the US, as even the attractive (to my eyes) last generation was barely on the sales radar. I think the 2 is glitz-free and cheap enough that it won’t matter too much for it, even as it’s just coming out with Nagare styling.

      One question: if this is the CX-5, where does that leave the CX-7? Is this less expensive and augmenting it? Is this replacing it? Doesn’t the CX-7 already compete with the Tucson pretty much head on in features and price (excluding Hyundai’s decreasing up front discount versus longer-established brands)? If this is less expensive, wouldn’t it compete more directly with the Nissan Juke?

      Does the US market really need a CUV for every purse and purpose? The mind reels…

    • 0 avatar

      The CX-5 (though it could turn out to be a CX-3) is supposed to be based on the Mazda3 platform, so that would suggest it would fell under the CX-7 to compete with the Sportage, Tuscon, CRV and so on (as indicated in the article).
      I just hope they don’t try to turn it into yet another 4-door coupe with useless rear headroom. I would like to see improved headroom in the front as well, as I find the 3 and the 6 to be a little tight myself.

    • 0 avatar

      wax on…wax off

  • avatar

    Are any stupid, function compromising trends missing from that sketch? It has the roofline that exorcises rear seat headroom and ruins driver visibility to the rear. It has the oversized wheels that ruin ride quality, fuel efficiency, cause hydroplaning, and cost a fortune at tire replacement time. It even has Bangle’s tired surface chintziness like an old Z4. On top of all that, the ride height and architecture take the Mazda compact a giant step further away from being the drivers car it was back in the days of the Protege. I would fire everyone who has been in the same room with those sketches and start over.

    • 0 avatar

      Totally agree. The automotive “stylists” surely have gone from A to Z on ideas, haven’t they? And there’s nothing missing or overlooked in automotive design history now. Time to drop their salaries; there’s no demand, no advantage, since it’s just: copy-each-other’s-designs-time.  I don’t see the need for another Nissan Juke, or a CUV bent another way. I wonder if they have pictures of people cut out of magazines to make a kindergarten-collage to show who’s lifestyle may fit with this vehicle and have decorated their cubicle with it? Maybe not. Maybe it’s in a Powerpoint presentation. Silly me.

    • 0 avatar

      This is an obvious copy of a toy car that used to be free in Cap’n Crunch cereal back around 1970. I remember it well. It attaches to a balloon, the escaping air from which powers the thing across the floor.

  • avatar

    This “Shinari” design direction clearly has a lot more production potential than Mazda’s previous “Nagare” non-sense that looked great in concept but not in actual cars.
    Last time I remember when Subaru also wanted to become the “Japanese Alpa Romeo” they hired Alpha Romeo designer Andreas Zapatinas.  What Subaru got out of that was an inverted Alpha Romeo triangle, or more distastefully known as the ‘flying vajayjay’.
    This “Shinari” design definitely does a lot of things right, its unique, looks upscale, and isn’t offensive.  Now that Mazda seem to have the design right, they need to find a new long-term platform partner being that their Ford relationship seems to be unwinding.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s too bad that Franz Von Holzhausen’s tenure at Mazda was too short to have any real influence. Shinari is attractive but Franz’ Furai concept was a stunner.

    • 0 avatar

      The Furai was beautiful, and its a shame that Mazda didn’t produce it even in incredibly low-volumes, it would have been a wonderful halo car that would have helped Mazda with their premium brand image that they are seeking so hard to achieve.  Franz Von Holzhausen is at Tesla now, and in reality his designs are probably better suited for low-volume cars than the mass produced cars that Mazda produces.
      The Mazda 5 with his Nagare design language is plain awkward, with the whimsical gills along the door.  The Mazda 3 has been a sort of love/hate phenomenon that really doesn’t suit a large volume vehicle, this Shinari design in comparison does seem to have the right design elements to be both understated and handsome.

  • avatar

    Thank God! No more smiley face front ends!

  • avatar

    I realize this is a smaller scale, but it doesn’t leave Alfa much room for their proposed SUV to stand out from the crowd. There’s a lot of Alfa in this, which isn’t a bad thing. Narrow the grille to a triangle, for instance, and it’ll fit right in with the MiTos and Giuliettas.

  • avatar

    The last time I saw a car with a wheel-to-body size ratio like that, it was hanging on a metal rod, in a blister-pack marked “$.99”.

    Seriously – what the hell? I think my Saab looks a ton better with 7.5″ wide 17s vs 6.5″ wide 16s, but when you’ve got something that looks like a 1930s tractor rim with a rubber band around it, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider things…

    • 0 avatar

      @PeriSoft: OK, good, it’s not just me that had that same thought. I was starting to believe I had been starting at the screen too long today already…

    • 0 avatar

      This rig looks like it’s actually designed around the o-ring tire/wagon wheel combination, which is too bad; if it had normal-sized wheels/tires it would look a lot better. I’m not too impressed with the current styling of alloy wheels, which have so many open spaces that you have to wash the backs of the damn wheels to get the car to look clean.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that the wheels are terrible; oversized and overwrought.  I don’t mind the rest of it though.

  • avatar

    What’s Wrong?  Nothing.
    Removing the smiley face is a great leap forward!

  • avatar

    Fine start for a Hot Wheels car.

  • avatar

    To: Mazda
    From: Nissan / Infiniti
    Please stop. You have been warned. Thank you.
    cc: lots of lawyers

  • avatar

    I know I am the only person out there who loved the Nagare styling and even liked the Mazda 3 – the grin never bothered me at all.
    The new styling direction is definitely headed towards more blandness, but at least Mazda tries.

  • avatar

    I think I like it except for the Conestoga wheels. What’s up with making everything look like something out of Suprefly? The old Monte Carlos were bad enough, now the OEMs think they have to put wagon wheels on everything. Who thinks that is cool? The car itself – I’ll wait to see one in person. Photos can be very deceiving. Grin be gone! Finally.

  • avatar

    I guess I’m the intended audience, as I think this looks terrific!  That’s trouble for Mazda, as I drive a manual transmission wagon.  Not too many of us one eyed cats out there.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, what’s wrong with this picture is that it should be lowered 5 inches and be the next Mazda3.  I agree that manual wagons are awesome and endangered.  If Mazda would have just sold a manual CX-7, I might have got that instead of a Saab 9-3 wagon.  Asking for the JDM 6 wagon would have been asking for a double rainbow.

    • 0 avatar

      “Yeah, what’s wrong with this picture is that it should be lowered 5 inches and be the next Mazda3”

      Mazda has shown what this ‘Shinari’ design would look like as the Mazda 3.  And it looks pretty good.  This design language translates pretty well into different automotive form factors.

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • TonyJZX: Just after the Equinox article I wondered why this 2.0 turbo is so different to that 2.0 turbo. One is a...
  • TOTitan: I owned three Q45’s from 1995 to 2013….a 91, 95, and 03. The 91 was amazing to drive but had...
  • golden2husky: arach – I agree with you but I think a huge part of older low mileage cars having more problems...
  • golden2husky: You don’t like KYB struts? For a reasonably low price they are quite nice. Not KONI level to be...
  • APaGttH: Your Kia Soul came from the Scion xB, which came from this.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote


  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States